It’s that time of year ladies and gentlemen!
While the weather may not feel like it, spring is here and that means that baseball season is underway.
Considering that a large majority of students here at Rowan are either Phillies or Yankees fans, let’s take a look at expectations for both teams and how they will fare in the 2018 campaign.
Phillies: The Phils have endured a long rebuild over the past five years. They finished with the worst record in baseball in 2015, 71 wins in 2016 and then regressed to 66 wins last season. This year, the Phillies hired former player Gabe Kapler to replace Pete Mackanin as the team’s manager. Kapler, 42, was formerly the Director of Player Development for the Dodgers and takes pride on health and nutrition, as well as the use of analytics in the game.
Call it “Chip Kelly-esque,” but Kapler’s ideologies, along with the call-ups of the organization’s top prospects has Phillies fans believing this is the turn towards competitive baseball returning to South Philly. Along with the call-ups, the Phillies made noise in the offseason by acquiring former NL Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta, as well as relievers Tommy Hunter and Pat Neshek. With Rhys Hoskins, who hit 18 home runs in 34 games last year, the fastest in MLB history, set to start his first full season, this could be what the Phillies need.
Vegas set the Phillies over/under for wins at about 74 and a half, and this was before the signing of Arrieta. The expectation is that Philly will improve and flirt with the .500 mark (81 wins). I believe the bolstering of the bullpen, along with Arrieta’s arrival, will lead to not only more wins, but make the Phillies a dark horse in the NL Wild Card chase come September.
Yankees: The Yankees were one game away from going to the World Series but couldn’t put the Astros away in ALCS. The Baby Bombers, led by Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, got even scarier with the addition of superstar slugger Giancarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins that was much in part due to Yankee legend Derek Jeter becoming the owner of the Marlins. Stanton now anchors the most stacked lineup in all of baseball and playing in a small, hitters-park like Yankee Stadium has baseball fans clamoring at the power numbers he is due to put up.
The Yankees will be good this season. We all know this. They are, in my mind, the clear-cut favorites to win the World Series. They will reach that expectation. The question here isn’t the expectation of the team but of the players. Here’s the real expectation: Can Judge and Stanton combine to break the teammate home run record set by Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris back in 1961? The M&M Boys combined for 115 home runs that year. Last season, Stanton and Judge combined for 111 home runs. Will the small field advantage for Stanton help garner those four more homers? Can Judge replicate what he did last season?
My thoughts: Yes. They will break Mantle and Maris’ records and as much as I hate to say it, will most likely bring the 28th World Series title to the Bronx this fall.
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