Back in March 2017, the New York Yankees’ expectations were fairly low. A competitive, wild-card game season was to be a success for the 2017 Yankees. Fast forward to October of 2017, and the Yankees fell one game short of the World Series, surpassing any and all expectations that people had for them prior to the season. Now, in March of 2018, the expectations are a completely different story.
It seems that anything shy of a World Series Championship would be a failure for the Yankees this season. These expectations are not just from the fans, either. The players, especially Didi Gregorius, seem to think that it is championship or bust as well. Earlier in Spring Training, Didi Gregorius said that anything short of a championship is a failure.
The Yankees and their fans need to pump the brakes on this championship-or-bust attitude for 2018. Why? It’s simple. The odds of Aaron Judge having the same season he had last year are extremely low. After all, he blasted 52 home runs and won AL Rookie of the Year, and maybe should have won MVP. He also came into the season feeling nothing short of 100%, whereas this season he is coming off of surgery on his left shoulder. We saw how good the Yankees were when Judge was arguably the best player in the league, they couldn’t win the division. Now, what if Judge has a down year? What if the Aaron Judge we see this year is the one that hits .240 with thirty home runs and not .284 with 52 home runs? People seem to be assuming that Judge is going to pick up where he left off, and that just may not be the case.
Other question marks remain on this team that should maybe worry some Yankee fans. For instance, Giancarlo Stanton has only played more than 150 games twice in his eight-year career, with one of those years being last year. History shows that Stanton usually gets hurt every year, so are the Yankees prepared to maybe lose Stanton for 50 games in 2018? Moreover, what about Greb Bird? Bird has not been able to stay healthy at all throughout his MLB career, yet people are assuming that he’s going to be a reliable everyday player. From a pitching standpoint, what if Severino can’t replicate what he did last season, what if Masahiro Tanaka looks like the horrible pitcher that he looked like at points last season, what if C.C Sabathia can’t stay healthy, and what if Sonny Gray continues to struggle with his curveball, a pitch that used to be one of his best?
It should go without saying that the World Series or bust expectations are a little concerning for any and all Yankees fans. This is a young team with a first-year manager that has never experienced expectations such as these. By being the underdog last season, the Yankees played loose, fun, and exciting baseball. In 2018, if things start to not go as planned, players may tighten up a bit if losses begin piling up at any point of the season.