Three weeks and to be determined. Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, or Yoenis Cespedes and who will be the premiere ballplayer in New York during a 162-game stretch of baseball at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field. And that will be determined for sure because all three if healthy are projected to hit a record number of home runs out of the ballpark.
And this is a good debate for fans to consider. New York baseball teams over the years have had their share of premiere players on the roster and this year all three are categorized as such with expectations to hit for power. Where they hit in the lineup will be determined with two rookie managers Aaron Boone of the Yankees and Mickey Callaway with the Mets.
Providing there are no long term injuries this could be a home run derby in New York and the task to produce those expectations are always that more difficult playing in the tough media market of New York. So when Judge, Stanton, or Cespedes fail to produce the fans won’t be happy and the media will begin to question.
But this is New York City, and expectations that sometimes lead to disappointment do lead to questions. Hey, this can be expected and you can ask Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Doc Gooden, Darryl Strawberry and many more about the pressure of producing as a premiere ballplayer in New York.
So in three weeks the pressure of producing begins and so will the questions. Will Judge and Stanton produce a record number of home runs at Yankee Stadium and be a nightmare for the opposing managers? Will Cespedes when healthy, catapult the Mets back to the postseason and all contingent on being consistent and avoiding the disabled list?
Which brings to mind a column in the New York Post that Joel Sherman presents about Yoenis Cespedes and the antics of wearing a hat backwards or throwing the ball behind his back. A distraction or lack of story lines during the long rigors of spring training, though Cespedes the personality on more than one occasion becomes the headline when we should be reporting about his production at the plate.
And not talking with reporters, or requesting his time is a major distinction in that comparison of Cespedes to Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, the latter two who hardly duck a question. The Yankees of course will have no tolerance with hats on backwards or lackadaisical approach running to first on a ground ball to the infield, and they always have their premiere players accessible to the media though A-Rod many times would have us waiting before ducking out the back door.
In New York, and as the players say the toughest town to play, the media is extensive and can be difficult when things are going bad.
Judge got a taste of that in the spotlight last season in his Rookie Of The Year season. Stanton, in that small market down in Miami. off a NL MVP season with 59 home runs and 132 RBI, will see the reality in three weeks of a vast media market in New York and pressure of performing in a ballpark that is made for his home run power.
So the debate will be ongoing who is the premiere player and will be a reality if indeed Judge, Stanton, and Cespedes do what they are capable of doing. Let’s face the reality that Yoenis Cespedes was the premiere player before the injuries set in, but there is a different perspective now with a powerful Judge in town and the arrival of Giancarlo Stanton in the Bronx.
And Mets fans have to remember, a healthy Yoenis Cespedes is a key to the lineup. Recall the World Series year of 2015, not too long ago when Cespedes delivered. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton will have their share of strikeouts and at the same time the home run threat and you can put another Yankee in the lineup, Gary Sanchez, perhaps their best hitter as another force.
However, Sanchez does not have the persona of Judge or Stanton. He doesn’t carry the headlines because the Yankees have that new “Murderer’s Row that is built to win another World Series.
New York has always been the center of attention on both sides of town. And again this will be the situation for the next six months as the season unfolds up in the Bronx and across the bridge in Queens.
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