After a dreadful 2023 season that saw the Yankees go 82-80 and miss the postseason, they went out and made big additions to the lineup and starting rotation.

But before we get into the 2024 roster, let’s review what went wrong in 2023.

The first place to start is on the injury front. Captain Aaron Judge only played in 106 games after crashing into the wall in Dodger Stadium, tearing a ligament in his right big toe. Hard to find more of a freak injury than that.

First baseman Anthony Rizzo was off to a fantastic start (.304/.376/.505 with 11 home runs) before Fernando Tatis Jr. banged into his head and unknowingly at the time concussed him. 

After that incident, Rizzo was literally one of the worst hitters in baseball for two months (.174/.272/.227 with one home run) before being put on the injured list for post-concussion syndrome. 

Big money free agent addition Carlos Rodón dealt with forearm tightness in spring training, back tightness that delayed his first start until July 7 and then also a hamstring injury that sent him back on the injured list after his season debut. 

All in all, Rodón’s first season in pinstripes could have gone much worse. When he was on the field, he pitched to a 6.85 ERA in 64.1 innings. In his final start against the Royals Rodón failed to record one out while allowing eight runs and turning his back to pitching coach Matt Blake during a mound visit. 

After a season in which Nestor Cortes was an All-Star in 2022, he battled injury and ineffectiveness. Cortes started 12 games and pitched to a 4.97 ERA. 

Frankie Montas made one appearance all season, and it was in the final series of the year against Kansas City; Montas signed a deal with the Reds hoping to rebuild his value on a shorter-term deal. 

Luis Severino also struggled last season, pitching to a 6.65 ERA in 89.1 innings pitched before signing the Mets this offseason on a short-term deal to rebuild his value. 

Harrison Bader missed a chunk of time and Jose Trevino played through a wrist injury before being shut down and missing the back half of the season.

The Yankees were riddled by injuries, but not something uncommon to these recent Yankees teams.

Ace Gerrit Cole said this year in spring training that the Yankees as a team get injured too much and need to improve on it. He is spot-on, but a lot of Yankees did not perform to the back of their baseball cards in 2023.

Giancarlo Stanton battled injuries and had the worst season of his career. In 101 games he hit .191/.275/.420 with 24 home runs. In the offseason general manager Brian Cashman said that getting injured appears to be a part of Stanton’s game.

DJ LeMahieu from opening day through July 4 hit a paltry .221/.287/.363 with seven home runs. At the end of the season, Cashman said he thinks LeMahieu’s slow start may have been due to having to rehab his toe injury from 2022.

From July 5th to the end of the season LeMahieu stepped up his production in a big way hitting .268/.372/.421 with eight home runs. 

The lack of actionable depth crushed the Yankees, making the injuries and underperformance too much to overcome. 

The Yankees were forced to rely on Franchy Cordero, Billy McKinney, Jake Bauers and Willie Calhoun, and their record reflected that.

All those factors contributed to the Yankees’ worst season since 1992.

It is why Cashman’s hand was forced to make a big move (or moves) this offseason. 

For 2024 in comes Juan Soto, Alex Verdugo, Trent Grisham, Marcus Stroman

Anthony Volpe should take a leap in year two. Aaron Judge posted a .284/.452/.614 line with eight home runs in September following his toe injury.

There have been multiple reports of LeMahieu being more ‘explosive’ as he did not have to rehab his toe injury this offseason. 

Rizzo says the concussion issue is behind him. Stanton showed up to camp looking noticeably trimmer with a stance change.

Rodón has reportedly touched 97 MPH in his bullpens already, whereas this time last year he was around 92-93 MPH. Rodón also looks trimmer compared to where he was last season. 

Gleyber Torres posted a .800 OPS last season and was the Yankees’ best hitter outside of Judge last year.

The lineup is going to feature two of the top five hitters in the sport in Soto and Judge, a major upgrade in the outfield with the addition of Verdugo.

There is much stronger depth when the injuries inevitably come with Grisham in the outfield, and Oswaldo Cabrera and Oswald Peraza in the infield. 

Let’s not forget, Gerrit Cole was the unanimous AL Cy Young Award winner last season. 

The Yankees have without question improved their roster by adding Soto, Grisham, Verdugo, and Stroman. Coupled with that is the fact that it is hard for the Yankees to follow up what they did last year on the injury front.

Judge and Rizzo’s injuries are the definition of what you call ‘freak’ injuries. Rodón’s 2023 season was an outlier for what has been a very strong major league career. Cortes is coming into the spring healthier than he did last season when he showed up to 2023 spring training with a hamstring injury.

The projection systems are higher on the Yankees than a lot of fans are because everyone is looking at their 82-80 record from last season and writing them off. Understandably so, last year was nowhere close to what the standards are for baseball in New York.

Look under the hood of the wreck and you realize there are a lot of pieces that are very valuable for the racecar the Yankees are trying to build for 2024. 

Everyone is looking at the up-and-coming Orioles who just acquired 2021 Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes. You can never count out the Rays. The Blue Jays despite an underwhelming offseason are still a good team. 

The Yankees may be falling through the cracks, and even most of their own fans are not believers after last season. 

These Yankees, however, have a chance to do something special. And no one seems to be paying them any mind. 

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