It's tough to argue the fact: until somebody, like the New York Yankees, knock off the Houston Astros, the reigning champion still holds the crown. However, this looks to be the year that American League representative in the fall classic will come from New York for the first time since 2009.

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Will Aaron Judge have to hit 60 home runs to get them there? No. How about Gerrit Cole? Does he have to win 20 games for New York to reach the World Series? No. Here are 5 reasons why it will happen in 2023.

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#5 Anthony Volpe Will Bring Needed Energy

Shortstop Anthony Volpe is a rookie with a giant spotlight on him. Volpe will be taking his first major league at-bats on Thursday. However, during spring training, the young New Jersey native has proved that he belongs in Pinstripes. Volpe plays the game with a quiet confidence and an expectation to win. Volpe will be a be a huge factor in the Yankees' success in 2023.

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#4 Carlos Rodón Gives Aaron Boone's Rotation A True #2 Starter

Though Carlos Rodón is starting the season on the Injured List, the expectation is that he will be ready to go in the week or so. Bryan Hoch of mlb.com reported that Rodón threw a 30 pitch bullpen Wednesday and felt great afterwards. The left-hander started 31 games for San Francisco in 2022, going 14-8 with a 2.88 ERA. When healthy, Rodón owns a 16.6 WAR (wins/above/replacement). Those are serious numbers that can really help boost the Yankees in the post-season.

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#3 The Positive Effects Of A Healthy Big Toe

DJ LeMahieu has won a batting title in each league. Last season, the versatile infielder was hampered by an injured toe for most of the second half. LeMahieu's consistent contact-bat was just the thing that the Yankees' line-up desperately needed down the stretch. A healthy DJ LeMahieu can make up for a bunch of slumping bats, especially when you just need to put the ball in play to win.

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#2 Stanton Will Power DH Position

Giancarlo Stanton hit 31 home runs for New York in 2022. The 33-year-old stormed out to a strong first half, hitting 24 dingers and driving in 64. That performance earned Stanton his first All Star nomination since 2017, as a member of the Miami Marlins. However, the injury-bug slowed the powerful DH in the second half, mustering only 7 more HR's and 17 RBI's. Look for a healthy season out of Stanton. The slugger knows that there may not be many more shots at a World Series for him.

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#1 The "C" Is For "Cool"

Even when it looked like New York Yankees fans would be saying good-bye to their favorite star of the 2020's, Aaron Judge played his cards close to the vest, never giving away an advantage. Judge is ready to lead this Yankees team. With this new contract and the Captain "C" on his chest, Judge now owns the tools to proclaim that the locker-room is his. In order to get past the Astros and into the World Series, the Yankees need a legacy leader. Judge fills those shoes. Yankees win 98 games. Toronto wins 101. Yankees outlast Blue Jays in the playoffs and go on to beat the Astros in six games. Yankees beat the Braves in the World Series.

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