Yankees Single-Season Offensive Records That Could Have Been Broken This Year in a Full Season
Imagine, for just one moment, that the novel coronavirus pandemic never happened.
As of this weekend, a tad over one week of the 2020 regular season would be in the books. The Yankees would be midway through their first home stand of the year, settling in for a campaign featuring championship expectations.
In a full 162-game season, what exactly would this current Yankees roster be capable of? And not just in terms of a World Series title. With this group of players, what franchise records could have been broken had the season been played as originally scheduled?
It's futile to consider the following for this season. After all, Opening Day has been suspended for at least eight weeks and no clear-cut date has been set for when the season will begin. But in the spirit of self-quarantine and working from home, we'll have some fun.
Most home runs hit as a team
Previous record: 306 (2019)
If it wasn't for the Minnesota Twins, who crushed 307 long balls last season, New York would have hit the most home runs by one team in a single season in baseball history. They may have fallen one homer shy of the league-wide record, but in the Bombers' history books and from a power standpoint, 2019 was one of the best campaigns in franchise history.
306 is not an easy number to beat – that's an average of almost two homers every game – but think about who the Yankees didn't have last year that would've been at their disposal this season.
Giancarlo Stanton and Miguel Andújar – who played in a total of just 30 games between the two courtesy of injuries in 2019 – hit a combined three home runs last season.
Plus, Kyle Higashioka – the backstop expected to take on a larger role as the backup catcher this season – only accounted for three big flies last year as well. He played in only 18 contests in 2019 and has had his power stroke on full display this spring, leading the team with three homers in a dozen Grapefruit League games.
Without Didi Gregorius, Edwin Encarnacion, Cameron Maybin, Austin Romine, Kendrys Morales, Greg Bird and Troy Tulowitzki on the roster this season – listed in descending order of homers in a Yankees uniform last season – New York subtracts 51 home runs from last year's total.
You have to figure, however, had the Bombers gotten a resurgent season from Stanton and Andújar this year, combined with increased power numbers from stars Gleyber Torres and Aaron Judge, the net loss of those departures would have easily been filled (and then some).
Health would, of course, be a huge factor in this department. Judge, Stanton, Gary Sánchez and other injury-prone Yankees would need to stay on the field to hit more homers. It's a simple equation. If New York limits trips to the injured list, the sky is the limit when it comes to the long ball.
Other single-season franchise records – when it comes to home runs – on the table had this year included a full schedule: most players with double digit home runs (14 in 2019), and Roger Maris' 61-homer season in 1961.
Previous record: 53 (Don Mattingly in 1986)
Beyond Don Mattingly's spectacular season in 1986 – one year removed from his American League Most Valuable Player Award – only two other Yankees have hit more than 50 doubles in a single season. Lou Gehrig did it way back in 1927 (52) and Alfonso Soriano laced 51 two-baggers in 2002.
In his rookie season, in 2018, Miguel Andújar was just six doubles away from tying Mattingly's record. His 47 two-base hits – tied for fourth in the big leagues that season – are knotted up at seventh-most in Yankees history for a single season.
As mentioned, Andújar arrived at Spring Training in February poised to bounce back from an injury-plagued campaign in 2019 (when he only saw the field in 12 contests). In response to the fact that his starting spot at the hot corner was taken over by Gio Urshela while he was on the shelf last season, Andújar showcased his defensive versatility in practices and Grapefruit League play this spring.
Reps in the outfield and at first base – combined with potential at designated hitter – were the 25-year-old's ticket to more playing time and more at-bats.
In a shortened campaign, there's no way Andújar (or anyone for that matter) can hit 50-plus doubles. It took him 149 games played during his rookie season to reach 47. Had this season featured a full 162-game slate – and Andújar was able to avoid injury – Mattingly's record would have been in jeopardy.
Previous record: 114 (1998)
Across more than a century of history, for the most storied franchise the game of baseball has ever seen, it doesn't get much better than 1998. In fact, you could argue that the 1998 season featured the best team in Bombers franchise history – there were certainly quite a few legendary individual performances.
Could New York have matched the 1998 Yankees' win total with 114 or more victories this season? It would've taken a herculean effort but these factors could have made it happen.
Slotting Gerrit Cole in at the top of the Bombers rotation, first and foremost, was an invaluable addition. Cole won 20 games last year, nearly won an AL Cy Young Award and finished with a 6.6 WAR. No Yankees pitcher has posted a WAR north of six since CC Sabathia in 2011 (6.4) when the lefty had 19 wins.
The loss of Luis Severino for the season due to Tommy John surgery is a major blow, but had New York's young hurlers like Jonathan Loaisiga and Jordan Montgomery had a chance to pitch in the rotation for a good chunk of the season, the void Severino left behind would have been filled. That's before diving into how potent the Yankees' bullpen is.
Finally, there's no question New York boasts a high-octane offense, MLB delay aside. The Bombers won 103 games last season while also experiencing the most trips to the injured list in Major League history. With an opportunity to play a full season, it doesn't seem too far-fetched to imagine this roster adding 11 wins to their end of the season tally.
Instead, it appears 114 games played would be considered a solid amount in 2020. It's even possible that zero will take place due to COVID-19. As cities like Toronto begin to ban city-led events, only time will tell how much longer until sporting events are postponed even further than mid-May.
To keep up with all of Inside The Pinstripe’s coverage, click the "follow" button at the top right-hand corner of this page.