Baseball may be locked out, but with the new year ringing, t's never too early for some bold predictions. I am not going to be one that proclaims that the Yanks win it all this season, let alone predict we will even have baseball at this point (thanks Manfred).
Heading into to 2022, the pressure is at the highest it could be for this team. They brought back Boone and still have moves to made, but players futures will be heavily relied on their play this season. Here are some of my bold predications for guys like Judge, Cole, and Sanchez.
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Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton battle it out for 50 home runs a piece
With Stanton gaining his much due respect and Judge entering an extension year, I feel a storm is brewing with these two hammering homeruns. Judge (52) and Stanton (59) each haven't hit the milestone since 2017, but last season was a glimpse of what Yankee fans hoped for in terms of the dynamic duo smashing the ball. Their time is due.
Gerrit Cole wins the American League CY Young
His performance in the Wild Card was disheartening, but clearly Cole was injured for majority of September and in the playoffs game. Cole received a lot of backlash, and that is sure to be fuel to his fire going into 2022. Don't get it twisted, Cole is one of the best pitchers in the AL. He has now finished in the top five in Cy Young voting in each of the last four seasons and five times in his career.
Gary Sanchez has a bounce back season
From top prospect to one of the most criticized Yankees in recent times, this season, Gary Sanchez needs to outperform. Between inconsistencies on offense, "lack of hustle", and defensive struggles, Gary needs to prove to the team to fans that he is a top tier catcher in the league. On offense, when he is hot, he is HOT. His defense has improved, but his framing is poor. In both 2020 and 2021, he saw Kyle Higashioka replacing him in many games, including being the personal catcher for ace Gerrit Cole. If he isn't traded this offseason, I am hoping that he can provide a campaign worthy of praise. People forget he is a 2x All Star and Silver Slugger winner.
Jonathan Loáisiga will step in as the closer, and earn an All-Star nod
Last season, Johnny Lasagna shined for the Yankees, and became one of the most reliable bullpen options. He sat in the 93rd percentile or better in nearly every meaningful pitching metric. Chapman is starting to regress, but will probably remain the closer. Don't sleep on Loáisiga earning a all-star honor.