New York Yankees: Keys to winning the ALCS

New York Yankees (Photo by Leila Navidi/Star Tribune via Getty Images)
New York Yankees (Photo by Leila Navidi/Star Tribune via Getty Images) /

The New York Yankees are in the ALCS again for a rematch of 2017 against Houston. Find out what they’ll need to do to slay the Houston Astros.

If the New York Yankees are going to capture their 41st American League Pennant in the franchises storied history, they will need to beat the best team in baseball to do it.

After the Houston Astros beat the Tampa Bay Rays 6-1 in Game 5 of the ALDS Thursday, the Yankees will head to Houston to battle the 107-win Astros in what has been a much-expected matchup for the 2019 American League Championship Series.

Many factors go into the outcome of each game and series, and with the amount of analytics in the game now it’d be easy to get lost trying to dig deep to find the keys to winning. But the name of the game is the same as it’s ever been, score more runs than your opponent.

Here is a basic rundown of what the Yankees must accomplish if they want the chance to play for their 28th World Series title.

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Play for the big inning: As John Smoltz repeatedly mentioned on MLB Network and FS1, putting up a crooked number during an inning is paramount to a teams’ chances of winning. The Yankees scored in six innings over the first two games of the ALDS; in only one of those innings did they score just one run.

‘Hitting is contagious’ is a saying the Yankees need to live by in this series, and after leading the MLB in runs scored (943), finding ways to string together big innings against the Astros’ pitching is going to be one of the most important things they do.

Keep stranded runners to a minimum: This is an obvious goal for any team trying to win any game, but it hasn’t always come easy for past Yankees teams.

One way the 2019 New York Yankees differ from recent Bronx Bombers squads, however, is hitting with runners in scoring position. After hovering around the middle of the pack in team AVG w/ RISP in 2017 and 2018, the Yankees led the MLB with a .294 average this season, according to ESPN. The two teams to lead the league in 2017 and 2018, the Astros and Boston Red Sox, respectively, both went on to win the World Series.

Baseball-reference shows the three full-time Yankees with the best averages w/ RISP for 2019 were offseason steal DJ LeMahieu (.389), budding superstar Gleyber Torres (.344) and unsung hero Gio Urshela (.333).

Get Gleyber Torres involved: Another obvious key to the Yankees’ winning, but no hitter may be more important to this team than Torres. According to baseball-reference, in the 142 games that Torres started this season, the Yankees were 88-54. During the 88 wins, Torres hit .316/.379/.655 with 33 of his 38 home runs. Compare that to his .216/.264/.333 line in Yankees’ losses and you can see why Torres’ bat needs to stay hot for the Bombers to have a chance at knocking off the ‘Stros.

If the Yankees can win the ALCS, Torres will have played a big part and possibly be the MVP of the series.

Take a page from the rival Red Sox: This is mostly about Yankees manager Aaron Boone. In the ALDS last year Boone got out-managed by Alex Cora from Boston. Cora then went on to lead his team to victory over one of the most well-regarded managers in the league in A.J. Hinch before the Red Sox defeated the Dodgers in the World Series.

Cora knew when to make the call to the bullpen, how to maximize his potent lineups potential, and even when to be aggressive on the basepaths, with five steals in the four games against the Yankees. The Yankees’ analytics department is one of the best in the game and Boone has seemed to figure out his weaknesses as a manager as he works with the organization to put his team in the best position to win.

Be savages: Boone was involved in one of the most memorable moments of the MLB season when he got into an argument with home plate umpire Brennan Miller during the Yankees’ July 18 game. After being ejected, Boone got into the face of Miller and repeatedly called his players “savages”. He wasn’t wrong and Boone earned the praise of his players and outside media afterward.

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If the Yankees are going to come away victorious, they need to be aggressive in the box, on the mound, running the bases and in the field. They have the talent, the resources, and the confidence. If they can package that all together, and be savages, the New York Yankees will be on their way to another AL Pennant.