The New York Yankees were truly Bronx Bombers last year, but Aaron Judge and sees potential for more in 2019.
Last year, the New York Yankees had 12 players hit double-digit home runs, including six guys who topped 20, on their way to the major league record with 267 home runs as a team. Arguably no Yankee team has fit the label “Bronx Bombers” better.
After hitting 52 home runs as a rookie in 2017, Aaron Judge hit 27 last year as injuries limited him to 112 games. Catcher Gary Sanchez also dropped off, from 33 homers in 2017 to 18 in 89 games last year, and even Giancarlo Stanton’s team-leading 38 home runs could be seen as an underachievement for him.
Judge hit two home runs on Sunday against the Detroit Tigers, as did fellow outfielder Brett Gardner. Gardner also had a power drop-off last year, to 12 home runs after hitting 21 in 2017.
Speaking to reporters after Sunday’s game, Judge and Gardner offered predictions for how many home runs the Yankees will hit this year. “We’re going to hit more this year,” Gardner said Sunday.
Judge elaborated a little more, albeit without putting a number on his prediction.
You get this whole team healthy, we’re going to crush the record that we set last year,” Judge said. “We’ve got a good team, a lot of guys that could make a lot of solid contact, and a lot of big boys that when they make contact, man, it goes. We’re a team that’s primed and ready to do that.
Stanton hit 59 home runs for the Miami Marlins in 2017, while Judge, Sanchez and Gardner combined for 106 for the Yankees that year. The four of them totaled 95 home runs in 2018.
Along with Judge, shortstop Didi Gregorius, third baseman Miguel Andujar and center fielder Aaron Hicks hit 27 home runs last year. Gregorius won’t be repeating, as he will miss the start of the season while working his way back from Tommy John surgery and Troy Tulowitzki fills in. So even if Andujar and Hicks repeat their 2018 output, there is a gap to fill.
Let’s do a quick projection:
Stanton: 45 home runs
Judge: 40 home runs
Sanchez: 25 home runs
Andujar and Hicks: 50 home runs combined
Gardner: 20 home runs
That’s 180 home runs, without Stanton or Judge reaching 50 on their own and perhaps with a conservative estimate for Sanchez. But if Gleyber Torres (24 home runs last year), D.J. LeMahieu, Tulowitzki, Greg Bird, Luke Voit, etc., combine for more than 87 home runs in that scenario, which seems attainable, then there’s the new record for team home runs in a season.
The Seattle Mariners set the previous record for home runs in a season, 264, in 1997. The Yankees’ power depth helped them set the record last year, but Judge’s prediction has a chance to come true by a fair margin in 2019 if the top-end home run producers round back into form.