Expectations could not have been much higher for the New York Yankees heading into the 2018 season.
After trading for Miami Marlins slugger and reigning National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton, were on the cusp of seeing the new generation of Bash Brothers alongside Aaron Judge, though this edition would be in the Bronx instead of Oakland. Home run records were expected to quake and collapse under the Yankees might as the two 50-home-run hitters from 2017 along with Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius were going to make regular-season games look like batting practice.
Stanton mashed 38, an injury-riddled Judge along with Gregorius added 27, too. Not prolific, but powerful nonetheless.
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But there was so much that came from unlikely sources. Rookies Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar added 24 and 27 respectively while Aaron Hicks tied Andujar, too. Sanchez, in a heinous offensive season, still put up 18 dingers while batting .186.
Then there was Luke Voit, who was acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals in August and mashed 14 home runs in just 39 games.
In total, the Yankees belted 267 round-trippers in 2018, setting a new MLB record that was held by the 1997 Seattle Mariners (264). That's a terrifying offense to face in the postseason as the Yankees put up their first 100-win season in nine years.
Yet, New York's season is over in the ALDS after falling to the Boston Red Sox in four games, which further suggests that this team was built incorrectly.
2 simple reasons why the Yankees weren't built correctly
1. Home runs don't win championships
Everyone digs the long ball. It brings excitement to a game that is trying to resonate with a younger generation while putting buts in the seats. However, it is historically proven that it doesn't necessarily equate to winning championships.
Including the 2018 Yankees, the 10 teams which hit the most home runs during a single season in MLB history have not won a championship. In fact, none of those teams even made it to a World Series.
We've heard this saying a million times: "You live by the home run, you die by the home run."
And that's just how the Yankees met their end. Analytics has taken over as the Yankees formed a team built for optimal power rather than clutchness, which can't be quantified. On numerous occasions during the ALDS, Bronx Bombers came to the plate in big situations just needing singles or productive outs and it could not be done. The Yankees didn't have a single qualifying player rank within the league's top-25 in on-base percentage, a stat that should be valued far more than power if you want to build a complete team.
Look what happened when the home runs dried up. Only Judge and Stanton hit home runs in the ALDS and the Yankees scored just four runs in their final two games.
Round-trippers are nice, but they're even nicer when they're not the entire foundation of an offense.
2. But pitching does...
The Achilles heel of the Yankees was starting pitching in 2018. We knew that coming in, but it wasn't expected to be this bad.
After a solid first half where he was gaining Cy Young consideration, Luis Severino imploded as a 5.67 ERA in his final 14 starts catapulted his ERA from 1.98 to 3.39. He came up empty in Game 3 of the ALDS where he was tagged for six runs on seven hits in three-plus innings of work, though Boone mismanaged the entire situation.
Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia were inconsistent while Sonny Gray was deemed unfit to even make the playoff roster after unsuccessful stints in the rotation and the bullpen.
It forced general manager Brian Cashman to trade for J.A. Happ, who went 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA in 11 starts with the Yankees and was considered their postseason ace as he was given the ball for Game 1 of the division series. He came up empty when it mattered most as he gave up five runs in two innings.
Even with that big-time offense, you're playing a dangerous game when you think you can simply outscore your opponents every night. Obviously, it backfired this October.
Don't expect to see Sabathia or Gray in New York next season. So if Cashman can come up with an ace or two this winter to round out the rotation, the Yankees will be in much better shape considering they already have the league's best bullpen.