The 2018 World Series is approaching quickly. Every year, 30 teams in the United States of America and Canada compete in 162 games to decide who will play in the World Series. Ten teams can advance to the World Series and the favorites have already started to emerge before we even reach the All-Star break. Let’s take a look at the mental health of these teams to see which one has the mental edge.
The New York Yankees have won 27 World Series championships, which is an average one championship every 4 seasons since 1903. In North American professional sports, this is an outstanding run of success for any club or sports team. Baseball is a game that revels in its history and playing for the Yankees means that you will always be measured up to the team’s legends.
The 2018 New York Yankees handle the pressure very well since they are first in the American League East division. They boast a powerful offence and their pitching staff is formidable, especially their relief pitchers. It’s no wonder they are « the Baby Bombers ».
The offense is relentless and the proof lies in comparative statistics with other American League teams. One important note is the acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton during the off-season, which solidified the team’s well-earned nickname of the « Baby Bombers ». It reminds me of the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays and their addition of Josh Donaldson to an already powerful lineup spearheaded by Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. These moves made each team bona-fide offensive juggernauts that all pitchers take seriously.
This brings us to our next point. Offense can certainly carry you through the regular season where an offensive lineup will match up against pitching that ranges from Cy Young contenders to AAA call-ups. In the World Series, pitchers are almost always Cy Young contenders meaning that an offensive lineup can struggle for a couple of games or experience a performance slump and their season is completely over.
The Baby Bombers are candidates to slump in the playoffs. They must always contend with the Yankee teams of the past where the expectation is to win the World Series. This expectation places undue pressure on the players that can affect their concentration and the timing of their swing, two necessities when you are in the batter’s box. Adding further pressure is the recent history where they exceeded all expectations in 2017 by reaching the seventh game of the American League Championship series before losing to the eventual World Series Champions – Houston Astros. Another distraction for this team is the unusual number of young players that do not have veteran MLB contracts. Normally, professional athletes prioritize team accomplishments after they have signed their first veteran contract. On the 2018 roster, Gary Sanchez, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius, and Gleyber Torres are playing with pre-arbitration and arbitration-eligible deals. Playing for the veteran contract is a sign of external motivation while winning together with a special group of players is largely is a sign of internal motivation, which makes players assertive even when faced with great adversaries. There are signs of these players developing a special bond with Didi Gregorius’ twitter posts.
One way to allow these players to struggle at the plate is through an excellent pitching staff. For some time, the Yankees have had arguably the strongest bullpen in baseball, which means that they can give the offense a chance for a comeback or to pull away in a tight game. The major concern is the starting pitchers. Luis Severino, also on a pre-arbitration deal, is the staff ace and he will feast on opposing batters that do not belong to the Boston Red Sox or Houston Astros. For Severino, he must figure out these two playoff-bound teams if the Yankees are going to have any confidence in his abilities in the 2018 playoffs. That said, the remaining members of the pitching staff have had injury issues or they are settling into major league baseball after decent minor league careers. Sonny Gray is perhaps the exception but he has also struggled against these two playoff-bound teams.
In all, the Baby Bombers are in great shape and they will take a run at the 2018 World Series if the offense have a chance to struggle in the playoffs. It means that they had to acquire a starting pitcher at the trade deadline like J.A. Happ. No matter the outcome of this postseason, the New York Yankees will still contend for the next decade.