The New York Yankees are in the middle of the pack in the American League East, toward the top in the Wild Card race, and have reached a point in the season where every game and series matters. Based on the current odds, the Yankees would have to be considered longshots to win the AL East.

The Bronx Bombers have had their highs and lows. Captain Aaron Judge is in the middle of his second stint on the Injured List with no clear timetable for his return. Newly signed Carlos Rodon has not suited up for a start yet, and Giancarlo Stanton is hitting around .200.

On the bright side, Isiah Kiner-Falefa has emerged as a key player along with rookie Anthony Volpe. Outfielder Billy McKinney had a stretch in June where he found himself hitting over .300, and Harrison Bader looks as healthy as ever. Furthermore, the Yankees statistically have one of the best bullpens in baseball.

New York currently sits around nine games back from the first place Tampa Bay Rays, and while the season has been relatively inconsistent, there are still reasons for and against betting on the Yankees to claim the AL East crown. On FanDuel, the odds for the Yankees to win the division sit at +1700. Here are the pros and cons to placing that bet. 

Why the Yankees Will Beat the Odds and Win the AL East

At their core, the Yankees have a roster that has been underperforming. There have been tons of injuries to marquee players. Judge, the Yankees lone All-Star, sits with a toe injury that nobody within the organization has publicly given an indication of exactly when he will return. When Judge was sidelined, he played in 49 games and had 19 home runs while hitting .291. His return would boost the offense, but the question is when will that take place.

The bullpen for New York has been nothing short of spectacular. The Yankees lead Major League Baseball in bullpen ERA at 2.83. Plus, the starting rotation is getting healthier–Rodon is expected to make his first start this week. He’s coming off two All-Star years with the Chicago White Sox (2021) and San Francisco (2022).

The lineup, even in Judge’s absence, has stepped up recently. Bader is healthy and just hit a clutch home run against the Orioles in game one of the midweek series. On top of that, Volpe has been on a tear recently with six multi-hit games in the last week.

The +1700 odds are low stakes, and if you bet on the Yankees to win the division, you are betting on a few things. The first being that the Bronx Bombers get healthier and everyone plays to their expectations. The second is that New York has a July and August similar to May, where they went 19-10. Lastly, it’s betting against the second-place Baltimore Orioles and the leader in the Tampa Bay Rays, both of whom would have to struggle for the Yankees to get back into the race.

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Why the Yankees Will Not Win the AL East

Simply put, the Yankees have had too many players in the lineup not live up to expectations. Furthermore, these hitters were significantly better last season when New York won the division. Not having Judge’s production has exposed that.

Stanton had a stint on the injured list. He has looked like a different player since returning. The five-time All-Star is hitting a career-worst .275 and his OPS is a career-low .680. In nearly 40 games, the 33-year-old has just seven home runs.

DJ LeMahieu and Josh Donaldson have also not been playing well in 2023. LeMahieu has won a batting title in both the AL and NL, but this year is hitting a career-worst .221. Plus, last year the infielder had 71 strikeouts in 541 plate appearances. This season, LeMahieu is already at the 70 mark in just 289 plate appearances.

Donaldson has looked even worse than LeMahieu. The third baseman had a long stint on the injured list, but in 26 games he has 11 hits, and eight of them have been home runs. The 37-year-old is hitting a career-low .131 and is getting the boos from the fans in the Bronx.

The pitching has been strong, but it’s going to take an exceptional effort on offense as well to catch the Orioles and especially the Rays. Even if the Yankees are active at the trade deadline later this month, there are too many question marks at the plate. Until there’s more certainty about Judge’s return, the Yanks may have to settle for the Wild Card race this year.

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