THE BIG IFS:
In '54 Indians split 22-22 with Yankees and White Sox, were an incredible 89-21 against rest of league. The Indians must dominate the weak clubs again.
Indians seem stronger but so does rest of league (which could not have gotten worse). Still, Indians have the big pitching they pay off on in pennants.
NEW YORK YANKEES
THIS YEAR'S PROSPECTS:
As always, depth, meaning a long bench well filled with good players for Stengel to work in and out of games as he sees fit. Plus Yogi Berra, best catcher in baseball, Mickey Mantle, who again threatens to grow from good to great, and a flock of pretty fair pitchers, most prominent among them Whitey Ford, Bob Grim and Bob Turley.
Phil Rizzuto, of all people (the once-great Yankee shortstop hit only .195 last year and appears near the end of his career). The void in the pitching staff left by the retirement of nonpareil Allie Reynolds.
Elston Howard, catcher-outfielder, who showed well in spring training. Two young pitchers: Kucks and Sturdivant.
THE BIG IFS:
Turley and others must provide sufficient pitching depth for Yankees to match Cleveland's awesome domination of the weak teams in the league. And if Rizzuto can't play short like the Rizzuto of old, then Gerry Coleman must.
Yanks won 103 games last year, held the Indians even, 11-11, and still finished second, eight games behind. Where they finish in '55 depends largely on how close the Indians come to winning 111 games again.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX