In all of sports, teams often times will witness a under-the-radar team come out from nowhere and take their respective league by storm. This often times lead to other teams using a “copycat” strategy with the hopes of emulating “said” paradigm to achieve the same success. Baseball isn’t any different. And in the New York Yankees case, they have followed the blueprint left by the World Series champions, Kansas City Royals, this offseason, in hopes of bringing a World Series title back to the Bronx.
While the Royals haven’t been exactly “under-the-radar,” Kansas City has put together two consecutive years of World Series appearances and now, fellow MLB teams have taken notice.
Via ESPN/Jayson Stark:
The team that just won the World Series — your Kansas City Royals — finished 24th in the major leagues in starting-pitcher ERA last season. And 26th in innings eaten by starting pitchers. So how many other champs in the expansion era ever ended up that close to the bottom in both categories? Only one — the 1976 Big Red Machine. Led by a manager (Sparky Anderson) known as “Captain Hook.”
But this just in too: It isn’t only the champs who are hammering away as hard on the back of their house as the front. Are you familiar with the New York Yankees’ work lately?
They led the American League in save percentage last year. They already had a two-headed bullpen monster, the much-feared Dellin/Andrew/Betances/Miller-zilla beast. Then they did something last month that no team ever would have even thought about doing five or 10 or 20 years ago: They added a third fire-breather to the monster pod, in Aroldis Chapman.
“It’s been the wave. Let’s face it,” said Boston’s president of baseball operations, Dave Dombrowski, a man who waited like 15 minutes into his offseason to pull off a stunning trade for Craig Kimbrel. “A lot of clubs have improved the depth in their bullpen. And it has paid off.”
That’s right. The new wave of success in baseball is now tied to teams having a shutdown bullpen. And after this winter’s deal that saw the Yanks bring in dominating closer Aroldis Chapman, New York might have the most dominating bullpen the MLB has seen in years — some say ever.
I hate when teams, players, rotations or fill in the blank, is called the best ever before ever taking the field or court. There is a huge difference between putting a dominating team down on paper and seeing them actually perform.
Remember, Chapman is pitching in the American League this year so there could be an adjusting period — just saying. In addition, I don’t care how great the bullpen is, if the Yanks batters can’t put together a few runs on the board, then it won’t matter who’s pitching on the back end.
I’ll stop being a Debby Downer here for a moment and say that if the Yanks hitting can remain average along with a relatively healthy season from the starting pitching rotation, the Yankees might be in for a big year.
Health for any MLB team is a concern, but the Yanks have all the pieces in place to make a deep run this coming season. If the Yanks can get good and healthy seasons out of some of their injury plagued players, the AL East could belong to the Yankees again.
Check back in, in about eight-nine months.