Any Yankee fan will tell you, the goal is World Series or bust. Under that ruling, this season was a bust. However, this is still a team that won 100 games this year and could easily be right back in the mix next year. Let’s break it all down.
Starting Pitching: C+
Luis Severino looked like a Cy Young candidate the first half. The problem then was the other four pitchers, except maybe C.C. Sabathia all appeared to have no clue what they were doing. Yes Masahiro Tanaka found his groove in the latter half, but he struggled in the first. Sabathia seemed to wear down as one would expect from an 18 year veteran. Sonny Gray was banished to the bullpen. Jordan Montgomery was lost before the year began. And while J.A. Happ was fantastic until the ALDS, he, Lance Lynn and Sabathia are all impending free agents. Undoubtedly addressing this is Brain Cashman’s number one offseason priority.
Gary Sanchez came into the year lauded as possibly the team’s best overall hitter. He hit .186 with a .291 On-Base Percentage and 18 home runs. He also only played 89 games due to nagging groin injuries, which caused his hustle to be called into question. And if that wasn’t enough, Sanchez once again set the standard with a whopping 18 passed balls, giving him 34 total the last two seasons. Austin Romine was much better defensively and offensively, hitting .244 with 10 homers. He can also be credited with somewhat saving Sonny Gray from being eaten alive by the Bronx faithful. Higashioka showed flashes in his first opportunities, but is clearly a ways away from being called upon regularly.
Luke Voit seemed to do no wrong after being called back up from Scranton-Wilkes Barre, hitting .333 with 14 homers, including a few which were critical in deciding games, in only 39 games with the club. His defense also clearly improved as the stretch came to a close. Gleyber Torres would have been Rookie of the Year if not for a slump down the stretch, though he still hit .271 with 24 dingers. He’ll have to work on the errors though. If Brian Cashman doesn’t extend Didi Gregorius he’s a mad man. Gregorius had the best statistical year for a Yankee shortstop in a long time. Even with multiple slumps, including perhaps the worst month of May in baseball history, Didi still hit .268 with a record 27 homers . Miguel Andujar deserves the Rookie of the Year, leading all rookies in a whole slew of categories, including a .297 batting average and tying Joe Dimaggio’s rookie record of 47 doubles. Again though, the defense needs work.
Greg Bird has likely played his last game as a starter, perhaps even his last as a Yankee. The emergence of Voit coupled with Bird’s putrid .199 average and 78 strikeouts in 82 games may mean Cashman chooses to move the oft-injured first-baseman despite having three more years of club control. Neil Walker proved an excellent defensive replacement, and had a few big hits over the season, though it’s difficult to imagine the impending free agent will be back next year. Ronald Torreyes was his usually productive self when available. Adeiny Hechavarria’s tenure will undoubtedly end given his free agent status, though his leaping grab in the Wild Card game will be remembered.
Aaron Judge once again reminded us why he is the face of the franchise. He missed over a month thanks to a broken wrist, but hit .278 with 27 home runs, hit .421 with 3 dingers in the postseason, and played Gold Glove caliber defense in Right Field. Aaron Hicks continued his outstanding defensive play, and quietly had a very good year at the plate, hitting .248 with a career high 27 home runs. Giancarlo Stanton undoubtedly failed to meet expectations in his first year in New York, but that was inevitable when you see how ridiculous his numbers were last year. He certainly struck out at the most inopportune times, none bigger than in the ninth inning of game four of the ALDS, and he was incapable of hitting in the months of April and May. But for any other player, .268 with 38 home runs and 100 RBIs would be a great year. He also proved he can be durable, playing in all but four games all year.
Brett Gardner’s elite defensive play will never die, but his .236 batting average left a lot to be desired. It was the worst average since the rookie campaign of his 11 year career, and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if Brian Cashman doesn’t pick up the option to hold on to Gardy for another year. Andrew McCutchen showed up very late in the game, and while he filled the space of Aaron Judge, his production wasn’t exactly all-worldy, though his defense was solid, and no one can knock his ridiculous .421 on base percentage.
Relief Pitching: A-
Aroldis Chapman looked the best he has in years so long as his knee tendinitis wasn’t acting up. David Robertson made a strong case to be resigned, often looking like the Robbie of old. Dellin Betances had another dominant season. Chad Green wasn’t quite as good but still one of the league’s best. Jonathan Holder began to look like the next one on the line. The only downside is Robertson and Zach Britton will be free agents and Betances has one year of club control remaining.
Manager: Aaron Boone: A-
Aaron Boone by no means did a bad job. A 100 win season doesn’t just happen without some managerial input. Boone had to navigate a laundry list of injuries, ineffective players, and a bloodthirsty media and fan base that wanted his head whenever the team stopped winning. Ultimately though, the question remains as to whether the laid back Boone can sufficiently light a fire under his players when they are under-performing, as they did many times this year.