The last time the New York Yankees won the World Series was back in 2009. 14 years has been a long time to wait for the winningest franchise in baseball history.

Last year, the Yankees got swept in the American League Championship Series (ALCS) by the eventual champion, the Houston Astros, who have gotten the better of them in recent years during the postseason.

The Yankees’ 2022 offseason was highlighted by the re-signing of their newly-named captain, Aaron Judge, as well as the youth talents at shortstop, Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza. The signing of pitcher Carlos Rodón, another high-profile acquisition, is expected to have an immediate impact. 

To consider my “X factor,” the reason for the Yankees’ anticipated success this season, let’s flash back to 2019. On January 14, 2019, the Yankees signed DJ LeMahieu to a two-year deal worth twenty-four million dollars. Some fans, including me, were skeptical of what DJ could do, but boy did he prove all of the doubters wrong! 

DJ quickly became a leadoff hitter upon whom the Yankees could consistently rely. He ended the 2019 season batting .327 with 102 RBIs and a career-high twenty-six home runs. He also finished fourth in MVP voting while leading the Yankees to the ALCS, where they lost to the Astros in six games. Unfortunately for DJ, the 2020 season was shortened to just sixty games due to COVID-19. 

In the last year of his two-year deal, DJ slashed an unprecedented .364 batting average. This placed him in third place in the MVP voting in another season where the Yankees fell short in the playoffs.

Jumping back to 2023, the Yankees have a legitimate case for being named the best team in baseball. However, their starting pitching has been thinned by the loss of Frankie Montas to injury, as well as management’s decision to let starter Jameson Taillon go. If you know baseball, you know that pitching wins championships; you can never have enough pitching.

If DJ can return to his 2019-20 form, the Yankees could finally grasp that elusive title. His dip in numbers over the last two seasons was due to injury including a nagging toe injury, from which he has finally recovered.

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