KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Think of the 2009 World Series champion Yankees and a couple of things come to mind regarding their offense.
Power and production, throughout the lineup.
Acknowledging how long there is to go in 2017, CC Sabathia, who was in his first year in pinstripes in 2009, said he sees some similarities between this year’s offense and that ’09 unit that led all of baseball with 915 runs, 244 homers, a .478 slugging percentage and a .362 on-base percentage. The Yankees won an MLB-best 103 games en route to a World Series title.
“I know it’s early but just top to the bottom, the way this lineup is constructed, we can score runs at any point and can have big innings at any point,” he said. “That’s how [’09] was.”
Entering Wednesday night, the AL-East leading Yankees led the AL in runs per game (5.78), homers (58), OBP (.353) and slugging (.457). The Yankees led all of baseball with a plus-59 run differential (Houston, entering Wednesday, was next at plus-58).
Joe Girardi, the manager since 2008, said he sees parallels to 2009 as well.
“I think there was maybe more power on that team, it was more mature, that offense,” Girardi said of a group that featured Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui, Nick Swisher, Robinson Cano and Johnny Damon, each of whom hit at least 18 homers. “But there’s a lot of similarities. We were able to run, we were athletic. We were able to hit home runs. This club has the ability to hit a lot of home runs. I don’t know if we’ll hit as many as that team [but] you know I feel like, which I did then, that we’re never out of a game. No matter what the score is.”
So far this season Aaron Judge is leading the way. The 25-year-old rightfielder entered Wednesday hitting .320/.420/.730, with an MLB-leading 14 homers. Matt Holliday, Starlin Castro and Brett Gardner were next on the club with seven homers, followed by Aaron Hicks’ six.
“It’s just power all throughout the lineup,” Sabathia said. “Kind of like the old days.”
The power-surge is particularly surprising, at least from the outside, given that two players many thought would need big seasons for the Yankees to put up significant offensive numbers, Greg Bird and Gary Sanchez, haven’t done so yet.
Bird, of course, has been injured much of the year (he has one homer) and Sanchez, though he’s hitting 353/.476/.559 (12-for-34) with two home runs and eight RBIs since coming off the DL, brought just three homers into Wednesday.
Sabathia, however, disagreed with that premise.
“There’s some good players in here,” Sabathia said. “I don’t think anybody in here was just counting on Bird and Sanchez. It doesn’t surprise me just because of the caliber of the players that we have in here.”
Speaking earlier in the day at the owners’ meetings in Manhattan, managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner mentioned, like Sabathia, some of the veteran players who have contributed to the fast start offensively.
“I think the guys that maybe weren’t talked about as much,” Steinbrenner said, referencing Chase Headley, Jacoby Ellsbury and Castro. “Clearly Castro, and Headley, they both had a great April. They were really contributing. And Ellsbury’s been good. It just seems like up and down the lineup, I mean, Gardy was struggling at first, but now he’s come on. Up and down the lineup we’re hitting.”
With David Lennon in New York