Extra recovery time makes the Yankees extra scary
The final week of March is usually a time when Major Leaguers are rounding into form and managers are finalizing their opening day rosters. However, there's been nothing usual about MLB's preseason this year, as spring training facilities from Tempe to Tampa have been shut down amid fears over the spread of COVID-19. Clubhouses are empty, weight rooms are collecting dust, and players are going squirrely as they try to stay in shape while practicing social distancing.
Although baseball’s postponement has been a crushing blow to most fans of America’s national pastime, it’s been curiously good news for the New York Yankees, who could benefit from extra recovery time prior to the start of the 2020 season.
Odds to win the American League Pennant in 2020
|Team||AL Pennant Odds|
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays
The Bronx Bombers, who are favored to win the American League Pennant, are once again dealing with serious injuries to some of their top personnel.
Former NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton is recovering from a strained right calf and isn’t expected to be 100% until April. Fellow heavy hitter, Aaron Judge, is still experiencing discomfort from a stress fracture to his right rib, and could use another month to fully recover. Center fielder Aaron Hicks is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and could be back by late June, if everything goes according to plan. Left-hander James Paxton underwent surgery in early February to remove a peridiscal cyst and is expected to be back on the mound at some point in June. It’s getting to the point where you can’t follow the Yankees unless you have a medical degree.
New York was plagues by injuries in 2019
Injuries are nothing new to the Yankees, who set a new record in 2019 by sending 30 different players to the injured list. Among the casualties were Greg Bird, who missed 152 games, Stanton, who missed 144 games, Luis Severino, who made just three starts, and Jacoby Ellsbury, who sat out the entire season. Overall, New York led the Majors with 2,776 man games lost to injury. For those of you keeping track at home, that’s 642 more contests than the San Diego Padres, who finished second in that less-than-desirable category.
The Yankees would have been forgiven for waving the white flag and falling into the fetal position given the staggering number of setbacks they endured in 2019, but they did just the opposite. New York won 103 games in the regular season and captured its first AL East divisional title since 2012. Aaron Boone’s crew went on to sweep the Minnesota Twins in the ALDS before eventually falling to the Astros in six games in the ALCS.
The future looks bright for the Yankees
In many ways, 2019 was more like an episode of Grey’s Anatomy than a typical baseball season. If the Yankees are healthy when baseball finally returns, they should be capable of capturing the AL Pennant and winning their first World Series championship since 2009.