The 2017 #new york yankees began last season as a third from the bottom non-playoff contender pick. No one in the sports world had the fresh, young team making it to the playoffs last year, amidst a team building season. In fact, most forecasters didn't expect last year's #Bronx Bombers to contend for two more seasons if that.

Meet your 2018 World Championship contenders

In a blog article I wrote during the last pre-season, I predicted, against the odds, that the New York Yankees would take their 28th #World Championship. I was wrong about that prediction but was one of only a few writers who correctly stated the teams' ability to contend for the playoffs.

This pre-season, I believe just about everyone in the sports world is going to agree in their predictions, that the New York Yankees are the team to beat, and will have number one Vegas odds of winning it all next fall. Led by a new manager, ex-Yankee playoff hero, Aaron Boone, the team has looked primed during the 2018 spring training Grapefruit League season to do just that.

The Yankees will begin their 2018 campaign for their 28th World Championship by throwing out last year's star pitcher Luis Severino. Severino came on as the team's ace in the second half of the season, leading them to the 2017 American League Championship versus the Houston Astros, in which they held a 3-2 advantage, only to fall in the final two games to Houston's powerful and crafty young team, in the end, 4-3.

Last season, Luis Severino placed third with his Cy Young award candidacy and is currently ranked sixth in his position for 2018.

He finished 2017 with the eighth best first pitch strike rate at 65.1 percent, and the number one average fastball velocity of 97.5 MPH. Despite his lights out pitching in 31 games played, and 193.1 innings pitched, with 150 hits, 64 earned runs, 21 home runs, 51 walks, 230 strikeouts, 1.04 WHIP, and a 14-6 record, he struggled slightly in the playoffs. This year he returns with the hope and goal to do better in the coming playoff season.

New Yankee Manager, Aaron Boone, has announced his 2018 starting rotation to be Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Sonny Gray, and Jordan Montgomery. Chances are, with four games in Toronto and a day off on the following Monday, the Yankees home opening day pitcher will also be Severino, with Montgomery waiting for a full rotation before his first start, as is the custom at the beginning of each season.

The opening day lineup is hardly ever announced until a day or two ahead. My prediction of the lineup the Blue Jays will face in Toronto on Thursday, March 29 will be, Brent Gardner, LF, Giancarlo Stanton, DH, Aaron Judge [VIDEO], RF, Gary Sanchez, C, Didi Gregorius, SS, Aaron Hicks, CF, Adam Lind, 1B, Miguel Andujar 3B, and Ronald Torreyes, 2B.

With two Aaron's in the lineup, and an Aaron as the manager, how can they go wrong? Seriously, this is a lineup that I believe will match up to, if not outdo any lineup in Yankee history. Considering the first five hitters can account for approximately 200 home runs this season, you can easily call the 2018 New York Yankees the Bronx Bombers. However, we may just have a whole new name for this terrorizing lineup. What pitcher in their right mind is going to want to face these guys? I almost feel bad for the rest of the Major Leagues, but maybe that's because I've rooted for the Yankees heading into my 44th season as a die-hard fan.

What might we expect from individual stars?

Of course, we must start with the two bats everyone is talking about. Maris and Mantle — oops, I mean Stanton and Judge. These two Freedom Tower giants led the major leagues in home runs last season with 59 and 52 dingers, respectively. Yes, that's 111 between the two. Could we possibly see a renewed contest for home run champ that brings to mind the rivalry of Maris and Mantle again? I predict they will both charge towards 60 home runs each, and may possibly outdo the two Bronx Bomber greats of the past.

We surely can't forget that Brett Gardner turned up his power last season, and was backed by the strength of Gary Sanchez, and the shocking Didi Gregorius who made us all realize that replacing the incredible Derek Jeter wasn't such a difficult feat after all. Didi, who is already mastering his play at shortstop, brings us a much more powerful bat than Jeter, but time will tell if his consistency and timely hitting of last season wasn't just an enigma. Aaron Hicks ads a powerful, yet consistent and very timely bat to the everyday lineup this season, with Torreyes, hopefully taking on full-time duty at second, and the fine addition of Miguel Andujar's glove at third.

What's my prediction for the 2018 New York Yankees?

If the 2018 New York Yankees [VIDEO] lineup and pitching staff can stay fairly healthy this season, I doubt highly anyone will choose anyone other than the Yankees to finish with the best record in baseball and a 28th World Championship. Unfortunately, we have already seen Greg Bird temporarily ousted from the lineup for a foot issue, and just may make the opening day lineup in place of Adam Lind, but that's really the only major injury we've seen this preseason, and this is turning out to be one of the healthiest starts to a Yankee season in a long time.

Could it be the new coaching style of Aaron Boone? Could it be that these young Yankees already feel the excitement in the clubhouse prior to opening day? Whatever the case may be, we are all in for what may possibly be one of most incredible and impressive New York Yankee seasons since the last dynasty of the late-90's, or of all time.

Let it rain baseballs in Monument Park!