One week into the 2018 season, it feels as though The Evil Empire has begun its invasion of the rebel base on the snow swept plans of Hoth. The Rebels are frantically making their escape, running about and scattering, while the structure which has housed them shakes violently. Snow falls from the rafters. It’s all very ominous. Doom is impending.

This scene, essentially, is analogous to every American League* team’s feeling towards the New York Yankees this year. The Evil Empire is back, and boy, are they are looking villainous.

*Except the Houston Astros, the road to the pennant leads through Houston.

The Yankees obtained the reigning NL MVP in the offseason. The man who hit one homer shy of sixty last year. This has been dissected in every conceivable way like a frog on a bio lab table left to only skin. I’ll save the words.

Concisely, the two best sluggers in baseball, Aaron Judge and Mike Stanton, now bomb in the middle of the Bronx order. Well and great. It’s an entire control room that steers the Death Star though, meaning- wait, there’s more.

Hitting behind the aforementioned duo of prodigious home runs blast producers is Gary Sanchez, the best offensive catcher in baseball. He takes the title from longtime incumbent Buster Posey.

This was no small task.

The Yankee catcher burst onto the scene in 2016 when he crushed 20 homers in 53 games. Over a (near) full season last year, the Dominican native led all catchers in homers with 30 and ribbies with 90. He tied for second in batting average with a .278 clip. The 25-year-old also finished second among backstops in OBP and OPS. Sanchez also amassed a 130 wRC+ if the traditional stats don’t suffice. Furthermore, he’s improving his glove work behind the plate on the hot trail to filling the void behind the Yankee plate that Jorge Posada left. He’s going to be a way better hitter though.

Perusing further among the Imperial fleet that is the Yankee line up you’ll find their hottest hitter of the young campaign. Short-stop Didi Gregorius. He’s been making New York fans nothing short of euphorias this year, batting .393 through Friday. New manager Aaron Boone has been slotting him in the heart of the order thus far, and for good reason. Just in case Stanton goes for the Golden Sombrero, and receives the boo-birds, again- Gregorius might be there to crush two homers and drive in 8, again. See last blustery Tuesday at Yankee Stadium.

If this lineup isn’t Murder’s Row, it’ll get you wounded at the very least. The bats don’t stop, and neither, seemingly, does the depth. How deep it goes is a fair question and one that is being asked early of New York. First baseman, and forecasted superstar, Greg Bird, as well as Outfielder Aaron Hicks, begin the season on the Disabled List.

Hicks is expected back soon, furthering the Yankees fortuitous conundrum of having too many productive players in an outfield. Bird on the other hand with be out 6-8 weeks as he rehabs from ankle surgery. In the meantime, late offseason addition Neil Walker holds down first base.

Walker, a career .272 hitter, signed for the bargain rate of 4 million. You don’t often find New York digging through the rummage bins of free agency in March. History has shown them to be more of a top tier guy in December kind of signer. However, they might have come away with a steal with the 32-year-old Walker, thanks to the unprecedented market, and of course, their ever-ceaseless cash flow.

By now you can probably surmise that the Yankees can hit. Did I mention they can pitch too? Pinstripes breed depth these days as the rotation is nothing short of stout, one through 5. Luis Severino is the headliner, he got the Opening Day nod after dominating last season. He struck out 10.71 per 9, won 14 games, and sported a 2.98 ERA. It’s been more of the same to begin this season as well, Severino, through 2 starts, has allowed 2 ER in 13 innings while winning both.

It’s hard to find a weakness with this club and the bullpen certainly is not it. They throw hard. Very hard. If one were to throw out the phrase, say, greatest bullpen of all time, just to choose one- otherwise known as G.O.A.T., with this group. You would not be alone in speculating what could be. They’ve faced some hiccups in the early going, but this pen is as unpleasantly good as the lineup.

The Yankees have always been hated, but now they may be feared just as much.

Que the imperial march, the Death Star is readying the attack system.

Nick Leo

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