Embed from Getty ImagesOpening day is just over 24 hours away – finally! 2018 is easily the most anticipated Yankees season in recent years, as all but two seasons from 2013 through 2017 ended up with the Yankees missing the playoffs. Plus, none of those teams had high expectations entering those respective years. This year is different for the Yankees thanks to young stars like Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, and Gary Sanchez along with the high profile addition of Giancarlo Stanton. Last year’s playoff run came as somewhat of a surprise, while this year a deep run is the expectation.
The old Yankees mantra is World Series or bust. Any season that doesn’t result in the Yankees hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy has usually been deemed a failure. In some years, it’s understandable to call such a result no good. In other years, 2017 being a prime example, the all or nothing approach isn’t a good barometer. 2017 was unequivocally a success for the Yankees thanks to the development of young stars and an unexpected championship push. 2018 has higher expectations, but does that mean a World Series victory is all that matters?
Depending on where you look, the Yankees are one of the World Series favorites. Fangraphs gives the Bombers an 11.0% chance to take home the title and Baseball Prospectus checks in at 11.5%, both similarly high marks. The Vegas Westgate sports book had odds as high as 6/1 last month, though 9/1 odds to win the World Series elsewhere seem more in line with Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus.
The biggest impediment to the Yankees chances of making the World Series, let alone winning it, will be the Astros. Last year’s champs knocked off the Yankees in an epic seven game American League Championship series and are the consensus favorite to repeat. They’re not alone, however, as the Indians and Red Sox will be tough opponents in the American League. If the Yankees manage to get through the top heavy American League, it’ll be tough to snuff out a team like the Dodgers, the National League favorite.
In other words, even though the Yankees have strong odds doesn’t mean we should be disappointed if they fall short of a championship. Obviously, it would be disappointing not to win it all, but if they make the playoffs and get knocked out in a competitive series, it would be hard not to consider the season a step in the right direction, especially considering the stiff competition they’re likely to face.
If the Yankees don’t take home at least one title by, let’s say 2020, I think we can talk about failure. With the core the team has in place, a deep farm system, and a stacked upcoming free agent class, it’s fair to expect the Yankees to break through and win it all in one of the next few years. That doesn’t mean this year has to be a championship year, as awesome as that would be. Is the goal to win the World Series? Of course. If at the season’s end that doesn’t happen, in all likelihood we should still be able to appreciate a pretty excellent Yankees team.