It’s almost here. Opening Day. Yankees, Red Sox. We’ve waited a long time plus a week for this. Plus another day thanks to the weather. There are a lot of familiar faces on this year’s team compared to last year, but there are also noticeable differences. Josh Donaldson will make his Yankees debut with his good buddy Gerrit Cole on the mound. Isiah Kiner-Falefa has a chance to make his mark as the starting shortstop. And having full seasons from Joey Gallo, Anthony Rizzo, Clay Holmes, and Luis Severino will help tremendously. And it appears Kyle Higashioka is Barry Bonds now? That’s fun.
While there are certainly improvements that have been made to the 2021 team, there’s still a lot of uncertainty surrounding this team. It seems as if they have the capability to finish first in the division or fourth. Can Gleyber Torres bounce back to his 2018-2019 self now that he’s back at second? Will a fully-healthy DJ LeMahieu be an MVP candidate again? Will Gallo give the fans a reason to love him? There’s all of that and more.
Was the offseason a success? It certainly was a crazy one. From a lockout that saw the sport go dark for three months to the Yankees missing out on a stack free-agent class, it wasn’t what most fans were hoping for or expecting. But as we all know, the game is not played on paper, it’s played between the lines.
With the addition of the third Wild Card spot, the road to playoffs may be easier. But we play in the toughest division in baseball. FanGraphs’ ZiPS projections have the Yankees, Blue Jays, Red Sox, and Rays all finishing with 88 wins. That would be chaos. But have any of the teams in the division gotten significantly better? You could argue none have. But many people are picking the Yankees to finish third or fourth in the AL East. Are they the easy favorites? No, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they won the division. Dare I say the Yankees are being underrated?
The team had a nice four-game Opening Day winning streak before falling to the Blue Jays last season. Overall, the Yankees are 80-40-1 on Opening Day. Regardless of what transpired over the 185 days between Yankees games, I think what we can all agree on is that it will be nice to have a full, normal season this year (fingers crossed). Even with the lockout, we will get a 162-game regular season and full-capacity crowds. That in itself is a win. So let’s play ball (when the weather would be kind enough to cooperate).