Every year for the New York Yankees is “World Series or bust,” making it a painful 13-season stretch for MLB's most-storied franchise. The Yankees haven't even been back to the Fall Classic since they won the 2009 World Series. New York is a perennial playoff contender, but the team has come up short in every season for more than a decade. Will things be different in 2023?
Let's take a look at three reasons why the Yankees will win the 2023 World Series.
Yankees' front-end starters
Aaron Judge's nine-year, $360 million contract received most of the offseason headlines, but New York's addition of Carlos Rodon could truly put the Yankees over the top. Judge, of course, was the Yankees' best player last season. Rodon was New York's sole marquee addition in free agency. By shelling out $162 million over six years for Rodon, the Yankees gave themselves a rotation that can go toe-to-toe with any team in the playoffs.
The Yankees' top-three starters were all top-nine Cy Young finishers a season ago. Gerrit Cole is in the AL Cy Young conversation every year. New York's ace almost singlehandedly beat the Cleveland Guardians in the 2022 ALDS, going 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA. Nestor Cortes won Game 5 of the ALDS after pitching to a 2.44 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP in the regular season. Rodon is the only pitcher in baseball who has finished in the top six in Cy Young voting in each of the last two years. When Luis Severino is healthy, he can be one of the most effective starters in the AL.
New York's rotation depth could be an issue during the regular season. Severino and Rodon are hurt to start the year. The Yankees don't know if or when Frankie Montas will return. New York has made six straight playoff appearances, and the team has too much talent to miss the postseason completely.
If Cole, Rodon and Cortes are healthy come October, no one is going to want to face the Yankees in a playoff series.
Aaron Judge and an improved infield
The Bronx Bombers should live up to their nickname in the 2023 season. The Yankees led the AL in runs and all of MLB with 254 home runs a season ago. Ultimately, New York failed to win the pennant because the lineup came up short in the ALCS. The Yankees' offense could avoid a similar failure on their way to winning the 2023 World Series.
Even if Judge doesn't come close to matching his record-setting 62 home run season, the 2022 AL MVP is a force in the middle of the lineup like few other hitters in baseball. Just as Judge almost certainly won't be as good as he was last season, he will undoubtedly be better in his next postseason. Judge followed up his .311/.425/.686 slash line in the regular season by hitting .139/.184/.490 in nine playoff games. Judge is too good to have a second straight disastrous postseason. It won't hurt that his free agency and pursuit of a monster contract are now out of the way.
Along with Judge, the infield was responsible for being swept by the Houston Astros in yet another ALCS. Third baseman Josh Donaldson hit .172 without a single playoff RBI. Shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa was benched when his struggles were no longer confined to only the batter's box.
The return of infielder DJ LeMahieu and the addition of rookie shortstop Anthony Volpe should alleviate many of the team's infield woes. LeMahieu appears to finally be healthy. Before battling injuries for much of 2021 and 2022, LeMahieu was a top-four MVP candidate in 2019 and 2020. There are high expectations for Volpe. A top-five prospect in baseball, Volpe posted a 1.035 OPS in spring training.
Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres and Anthony Rizzo also help make up arguably the most dangerous lineup in the AL.
Not the same Astros
If it wasn't for the Astros, the Yankees would probably have at least one championship over the last decade. Maybe New York would've won a pair of World Series titles within the last few seasons. Whenever it looked like the Yankees were on their way to winning their elusive 28th World Series championship, the Astros sent New York home.
The 2022 season marked the third time since 2017 that the Astros eliminated the Yankees in the ALCS. New York closed the gap in the offseason, and Houston's run of dominance in the AL might finally be coming to an end. After Justin Verlander won the 2022 AL Cy Young award and Game 5 of the World Series, he signed a record contract with the New York Mets. Not only was Verlander Houton's best pitcher, but he was responsible for many of the Yankees' postseason disappointments.
Houston has survived plenty of free-agent departures. The Astros won a championship without George Springer or Carlos Correa. Luring Cole away from Houston didn't help New York overtake its rivals. Amid all of their roster changes, the Astros are eventually going to see their streak of consecutive ALCS appearances end.
Jose Altuve could miss at least two months with a fractured thumb. The Seattle Mariners might be the biggest competition in the AL West that Houston has faced in the last half-decade. If the Astros take a step back, the Yankees will be the biggest beneficiaries.