Just call them the “Baby Bombers.” The excitement is real. The potential is real. Are they still prospects? Absolutely.
Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge have made quite the impact on the Yankees thus far in their brief careers as major leaguers.
There has not been this much excitement around the Yankees in quite some time and that is what makes the Yankees so much more readily watchable. Certainly, they are selling us all on hope and potential. They also represent the potential of future October baseball and the potential for future World Series appearances.
As I have written about before in this very column, there is a difference between being a playoff contender and a championship contender. With the decision to trade off veterans like Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran and Ivan Nova around the MLB trade deadline, the Yankees added upper echelon prospects as GM Brian Cashman tries to build the Yankees’ next “uber team.”
It is great and exciting to see what the potential of these players is and what that could mean for Bronx baseball. With that being said, we need to temper the expectations as well and not put the cart before the horse.
As a Yankees fan, just go back to 1990 and the splash that Kevin Maas made in 79 games and 300 at-bats when he hit 21 homeruns. He hit 44 homers the rest of his career and he was out of baseball at 31. I was 14-years-old in the “Summer of Maas” and I remember the excitement that he generated and I am sure that I could still find his rookie card that I bought in the attic of my dad’s house. I thought, as did many, that he was going to be a long-term answer for the Yankees and he proved not to be. He is not the first, nor will he be the last example of a player whose potential was never realized.
I bring up the Maas example as a cautionary tale. You have to be careful of placing stardom on players this early in their respective careers. Yes, it is great to hear that Yankees catcher Brian McCann has called Sanchez a “stud.” McCann added that he “consider[s] him one of the better, if not best, young catchers since I’ve been in the big leagues.”
That is certainly a glowing review and Sanchez has lived up the expectations defensively and offensively. He is hitting .379 with six HR and 12 RBI in 15 games and is now the Yankees everyday starting catcher. The early returns have been off the charts and he has been a blast to watch. For Aaron Judge, the 6-foor-7 right-handed power bat is hitting .308 with two HR and six RBI in his first seven games. Judge is an imposing presence at the plate and his approach as a young hitter is very impressive and his power is off the charts.
There is no question the Yankees mishandled Alex Rodriguez on the way out. There is no doubt that you should be happy the baseball people and not the business people are making the baseball decisions for the Yankees. Sanchez and Judge represent what the potential can be for this organization in the not so distant future, but it is still potential and they need to do it consistently moving forward. It is exciting to see each and every at bat. The potential in these two players is special. The question remains about the potential being realized. It is too early to say the answer is definitively yes.