Yankees’ New Dynamic Duo Demanding Respect From Rivals: ‘It’s thunder and lightning’

MLB: Spring Training-Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees
Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

Having one player that is capable of winning an MVP is a luxury, but the New York Yankees have two this upcoming season with Aaron Judge and Juan Soto prowling the outfield.

Judge is one year removed from his first MVP performance, playing 157 games in 2022, hitting 62 homers with 131 RBIs. He slashed .311/.425/.686, hosting a 209 wRC+, indicating he was 109% better than the average MLB hitter. Every at-bat seemed as though Judge was going to hit a homer, but adding Soto to the mix takes his upside to another level.

Before, Judge was the key cog in the Yankees’ offensive game plan, but they don’t necessarily need to rely on him as much anymore, taking a bit of pressure off and spreading the wealth.

The Yankees Have Two Elite Hitters at the Top of the Order

Soto is coming off another tremendous season, hitting .275/.410/.519, including 35 homers and 109 RBIs over 162 games. He has played a minimum of 151 games over the past three years, showcasing not only health but also production during that time.

In fact, he hasn’t had a strikeout rate higher than his walk rate since 2019 with the Washington Nationals, when he was only 20 years old. This is one of the most disciplined hitters the game has seen in generations, and the Yankees Munn secured him for one year before free agency.

Even the Yankees’ top rivals are well aware of the dynamic duo forming in the Bronx. In fact, Houston Astros general manager Dana Brown said “it’s thunder and lightning.”

Offense Will be Paramount in 2024

To compete with the Los Angeles Dodgers and potentially supplement the loss of Gerrit Cole for a nice chunk of the 2024 season, the Yankees need to have one of the best teams in the game, and these two superstar sluggers take them to that tier-one level.

However, it’s not just about the production of those two; the Yankees have a rather balanced batting order with Gleyber Torres, Anthony Rizzo, and several youngsters taking steps forward.

Anthony Volpe has had a solid spring. He has changed his swing slightly and is enjoying the results. Over 11 games, Volpe is hitting .310/.375/.414 with two RBIs and three stolen bases.

After a rookie season that certainly had its fair share of ups and downs, the Yankees are hoping that Volpe will develop his plate discipline and eventually graduate to the lead-off hitter spot. For now, he will hit number nine in the order, allowing the Yankees to wrap around to the top and giving Soto and Judge one of the best base runners on the team to work with.

There’s a lot to like about the Yankees’ new additions, which also include Alex Verdugo and Trent Grisham. However, Soto’s qualities with runners in scoring position make him truly elite. Over 144 at-bats with RISP in 2023, Soto hit .299/.439/.576, recording nine homers, 71 RBIs, 39 walks, and 30 strikeouts.

The combination of clutch hitting between Soto and Judge is something of urban legend, but the Yankees have turned it into reality. The hope is that general manager Brian Cashman will be given the green light next season to extend Soto on a long-term contract.

Considering he’s only 25 years old, he could be one of the team’s faces for the next decade, if not much longer. As long as the pitching can hold up, the Yankees should have an exciting 2024 season. However, they are still trying to figure out how to supplement losing Cole for a few months, and the San Diego Padres swept in on Wednesday to acquire Dylan Cease from the Chicago White Sox, taking one good option off the board.

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