Early season hot streak propels Yankees to top, ignites strong post-season buzz

Anthony Rizzo and Giancarlo Stanton celebrate following the Yankees' 8-3 win over the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium on April 7, 2024.
Michael Bennington
Monday April 8, 2024

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Despite the small sample size that comes with the beginning of the season, the New York Yankees’ performance through their first three series is impossible to ignore.

Following an impressive 8-3 victory over the Blue Jays on Sunday, showcasing their offensive depth, the Yankees now boast an 8-2 record, tied with the Pittsburgh Pirates for the best record in Major League Baseball. This strong start has certainly exceeded expectations.

For the Yankees, an 8-2 record is historically significant. It marks only the second time in the past 21 years that the team has begun a season with such a strong showing, the last time being in 2004. Looking back even further, throughout franchise history, the Yankees have only managed to win at least eight of their first ten games on nine other occasions. Interestingly, in three of those seasons, they even went on to reach the World Series!

Of course, it’s important to acknowledge the small sample size at this point in the season. Imagine the contrasting scenario: a sluggish start like the Miami Marlins, who are set to visit New York for a three-game series starting Monday, with a record of 1-9. Given the Yankees’ disappointing finish to last season, such a start would undoubtedly have fans worried.

New York Yankees' players at Yankee Stadium
IPU

However, the Yankees deserve credit for their early success. Sweeping the Astros in Houston, taking two out of three against the reigning National League champion Diamondbacks in Arizona, and coming back to win the final two games against their division rivals, the Blue Jays, are all impressive feats. This hot streak has propelled the Yankees to the top of the MLB standings and injected a sense of optimism into the Bronx faithful. With a key divisional series against the Blue Jays just concluded, fans will be eager to see if the Yankees can continue their winning ways throughout the season.

Despite Yankees’ strong start, Boone sees room for improvement

While the Yankees are off to a strong start, manager Aaron Boone isn’t ready to declare them an offensive juggernaut.

“We’re finding ways to win, that’s the key,” Boone said. “But I don’t think we’ve quite clicked on all cylinders offensively yet.”

Despite not reaching their full potential at the plate, the Yankees have managed to pull off victories with different approaches. Boone acknowledges the team’s ability to adapt and make crucial plays when it matters. He also praised the solid performances from the starting pitchers and the bullpen.

Keeping a long-term perspective, Boone emphasizes that every win counts in the marathon of a baseball season, even at this early juncture (10 games in). He’s particularly happy with the team’s overall ability to win, highlighting the contributions from various players, especially in the early going. This versatility has been key to their success, preventing overreliance on any single player.

new-york-yankees
AP

Boone’s assessment of the offense aligns with the statistics. While there have been some explosive games, like the nine-run outburst on Saturday, the Yankees’ offensive numbers aren’t yet top-tier. Only four hitters have a batting average above .223, and just five boast an OPS above .666 heading into Monday’s game.

There’s room for improvement at the plate, but the Yankees are clearly demonstrating their ability to win games even without a fully-functioning offense. This combination of strong pitching, timely hitting, and overall team effort has them sitting atop the standings and has Boone optimistic about their future potential.

Yankees show early signs of postseason contention

giancarlo stanton player of the new york yankees
Yankees

While the offensive statistics may not yet indicate a dominant performance, a clear contrast exists between this year’s Yankees team and the struggles they faced last season. The current lineup is demonstrably more consistent, wearing down opposing pitchers with high-quality at-bats. They have shown improvement in their ability to reach base, and their scoring is more versatile.

The team has moved away from its previous overreliance on the home run. This year’s Yankees are generating runs through a combination of approaches, including drawing walks, making consistent contact, and stringing together well-crafted at-bats.

This newfound depth has been crucial to their success. The Yankees have managed an impressive 8-2 record against playoff contenders, even with minimal contributions from key players like Alex Verdugo, Austin Wells, Gleyber Torres, Anthony Rizzo, and Giancarlo Stanton (until recently). Additionally, injuries to stars like Gerrit Cole, DJ LeMahieu, and Jonathan Loáisiga have not derailed their success.

Looking ahead, the possibilities for the Yankees are exciting. When these key players return and the team is firing on all cylinders, their potential seems limitless.

Shortstop Anthony Volpe, currently performing at an All-Star level, echoed this sentiment. He described the Yankees as “super well-rounded,” highlighting the team’s overall balance. While the season is young, the formula they have established – strong pitching, a deeper offense, and a supportive team environment – appears to be a winning one.

Volpe emphasized the team’s strong sense of camaraderie, where players lift each other up across the lineup and between positions. They approach each game with confidence, knowing they have various ways to secure victories. This collective spirit, coupled with their newfound offensive depth, is propelling the Yankees to the top of the standings and has fans optimistic about their chances come October.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

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