Four Pre-Pre-Season Predictions (That I Hope Come True)
by Paul Semendinger
February 10, 2021
Spring Training begins in a week. Oh, that is music to my ears!
I have had enough of winter. I have had enough of no baseball.
Bring me spring. Bring me baseball.
Bring me the Yankees!
I figured that it might be fun, as others have done, to make some predictions about the 2021 Yankees. When I do exercises like this, I usually look at things optimistically. Maybe, rather than predictions, these should be called “hopes.”
In my articles, I write honestly. I share my perspectives on how I see things. I try to (as they used to say) “tell it like it is” (or, at least how I see it). This is a different exercise. No one knows how the season will turn out. These are just guesses, or, as I stated, hopes. For this exercise, I do not need to look at things as critically. Instead, I can look more at the Yankees as a fan (which, of course, at my core, I am.)
As such, here are four predictions that could come true and that I absolutely hope do come true:
1) Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge Stay Healthy – If this happens, one need not even speculate on how many home runs they’ll hit. If these two sluggers are healthy, there is little doubt that they will blast a ton of homers between them. Even with the new baseballs, Stanton and Judge should hit at least 70 home runs together. But that’s not even the point. Their presence in the daily lineup will make all the other players better. No team or pitcher will want to face these two great sluggers. Stanton and Judge will help lead the Yankees to at least 100 wins. If they are playing, they’ll have big years. 2021 will finally be the year they live up to their promise as the two giants of Major League Baseball.
2) Gleyber Torres Joins The Fun – It is easy to forget that baseball players, like all of us, are people with very real human emotions. I imagine it’s been a long off-season for Gleyber Torres. He had a disappointing 2020 season both defensively and offensively. People have said for months, “He just wasn’t in shape last year.” Torres’ stock is at its lowest point since he arrived with the big club. Many are very concerned about him as the team’s shortstop. I would imagine that Torres spent the off-season with renewed focus and energy. Gleyber Torres knows that he can be a superstar. He can be every bit as good, or better, than the great shortstops in the game right now. I predict, he will ascend to that level by playing better than solid defense and crushing the ball. Gleyber Torres will bat over .300 this year with more than 30 home runs. He’s going to say, “I am the reason why the Yankees didn’t need to get Francisco Lindor and why they don’t need to make a trade for a shortstop next winter.” (And he’ll be right.)
3) Corey Kluber Pitches His Way To A Two-Year Deal (Or Three-Year Deal) – The first part about this, I will love. 2021 is going to be great for Corey Kluber. This year he is going to do so well (his ERA and WHIP will go down month-by-month until September) that the Yankees reward him with a two-year contract after the season. In the playoffs, he’ll be lights out. Not only will Kluber easily win the Comeback Player of the Year Award, he’ll be a Top-5 candidate for the American League Cy Young Award.
4) Aaron Boone Manages With Intensity And Focus – It’s no secret that I did not like the Yankees decision to go with a novice manager all those years ago. The Yankees have done well under Aaron Boone, but the final results have not been there. Since Aaron Boone’s hiring, it’s been obvious to all that the Yankees have not been a fundamentally sound baseball team. That all changes in 2021. Aaron Boone has proven that he can manage a team. He knows how to handle a clubhouse. He does well with the media, Boone has mastered those (very important) aspects of managing. But Aaron Boone also knows he’s on the hot seat. A disappointing season or a poor finish will leave fans (and maybe even the Yankees’ brass) very (very) frustrated. Aaron Boone knows the time to win is now. He knows he must win now. He also knows that winning is in the details. In 2021, he runs a tighter ship in Spring Training. Fundamentals are stressed. He impresses on the team that this is their year. 2021 becomes the year that Aaron Boone becomes the manager the Yankees hoped he would be. Often times the Manager of the Year is seen holding the World Series trophy. In October, we will all see Aaron Boone holding that trophy.