Published On: Fri, May 4th, 2018

Sorry Boston. Yankees are the best team in baseball, and getting better

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Start spreading the news, the New York Yankees are the best team in baseball and are showing no signs of slowing down.

Following a rocky first couple of weeks that saw the club hover around .500 and fall a season-worst 7 1/2 games back of the Boston Red Sox in the American League East on April 20, the Yankees have turned things around in a big way. They’ve now won 12 of their last 13, and enter Friday’s series opener with the Cleveland Indians with a shot at moving into a tie with their suddenly slumping rivals for the division lead.

Yes, there’s certainly been an exhale across the Bronx as the Yankees have looked the part of World Series contender after a statement road trip.

In what was considered an early litmus test – a seven-game slate through Los Angeles and Houston to play against two of the top teams in the AL – the Yankees sent a message.

New York dominated the Angels, sweeping the three-game set while outscoring them 17-5. They followed that up by taking three of four against the reigning World Series champion Astros, outscoring them 15-7.

Just how have the Yankees turned things around?

The kids have provided a spark

It didn’t take long for Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres to make an impact. After both started the season in the minors, a slew of injuries opened the door for the two top prospects and both have made their presence felt during the Yankees’ hot streak.

Andujar is hitting .284/.296/.526 with three home runs, 12 doubles, and 12 RBIs in 24 games since taking over at third base after Brandon Drury hit the disabled list on April 24. And in the 12 games Torres has played second base, he’s slashing .317/.356/.390 with three doubles and five RBIs while providing strong defense.

Not only have the two helped cover the Yankees at two important positions, but they’ve also helped manager Aaron Boone lengthen the lineup. With Andujar and Torres hitting near the bottom of the order, there’s no breathing room for opposing pitchers. Boone has hit Torres ninth in nine games this season, with the 21-year-old producing a .382 on-base percentage in the spot.

The moment also hasn’t been too big for the kids either. With the Yankees trailing Houston 5-3 in the top of the ninth Thursday, Torres delivered a game-tying, two-RBI single during the eventual 6-5 win.

The pitching staff is locked in

Yankees pitchers have allowed 25 runs over their last 13 games and held the Angels and Astros – two of the league’s offensive juggernauts to just 12 runs over seven games. At one point during the series with Houston, Yankees pitchers held the Astros scoreless for 28 consecutive innings. Incredible.

Over the last two weeks, New York’s rotation owns an MLB-best 2.57 ERA, with CC Sabathia, Luis Severino, and Masahiro Tanaka all posting sub-2.50 ERAs. In addition to the starters being as close to locked in as possible, the bullpen has been as dominant as expected in recent weeks following a slow start.

Ten relievers have combined to allow just seven earned runs over the last 45 1/3, while striking out 57. The trio of Dellin Betances, David Robertson, and Aroldis Chapman have thrown 14 straight scoreless innings, allowing just seven hits and striking out 24. The Yankees bullpen is becoming as terrifying as projected, and this is with Tommy Kahnle and Adam Warren on the DL.

Chapman put an exclamation on the road trip Thursday. With two outs and the tying run in scoring position, the flamethrower punched out the reigning AL MVP Jose Altuve with a 100-mph fastball.

And … just wait until Stanton gets going

Didi Gregorius and Aaron Judge have done a lot of the heavy lifting early on in the middle of the order, which makes the thought of what damage will be done when Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez really start hitting truly scary.

Slow starts are nothing new for Stanton so don’t be shocked when he starts to put up jaw-dropping offensive production. Throughout his career, Stanton has put up his worst numbers in April, only to significantly heat up as the season progresses.

April 184 40 .251/.340/.485
May 165 51 .277/.362/.592
June 190 44 .268/.346/.513
July 158 44 .262/.369/.573
Aug. 168 56 .283/.381/.620
Sept. 152 39 .263/.358/.539

Stanton slashed .230/.313/.425 with five home runs and 43 strikeouts over 28 games in March/April this season, and while the sample size is extremely small, he’s hitting .273/.333/.909 with two homers (both off Dallas Keuchel) and a double in three games in May.

For Sanchez, the power has been there – hitting eight homers in 28 games. But he’s produced just a .204 average and .283 OBP, significantly lower than his career numbers. Once these four get going at the same time, and combined with the young stars at the bottom of the order, the Yankees will be the most difficult team to keep off the scoreboard.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)
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