Yankee fans know all too well the shortcomings of this decade’s Yankees teams. For the first time since the 1910’s, the Yankees went a full decade without making a World Series appearance. For all of the disappointment that the lack of a ring brings, the Yankees still shined throughout the 2010’s.
During the last decade, the Yankees ranked second in the MLB in terms of WAR (264.3), sitting just behind the Red Sox (265.7). They also rank second to the Red Sox in terms of runs scored (7,909), but were first in terms of average run differential (.7 runs). They slightly edge out Boston for the top spot in wRC+ as well with a mark of 105 (to Boston’s 104). Record wise, nobody was better than the Yankees during the 2010’s. The Bombers went 945-726, which is a winning percentage of 56.5%.
If you think that all of those decade long statistics are meaningless, and that the only things that matter are rings, I don’t blame you, but despite not making a World Series appearance, there were several important and memorable Yankee moments from the decade.
Here is how I think they stack up:
10) Next Man Up: 103 wins and AL East Champs in 2019
In a season where the Yankees had high expectations, injuries got the better of the club just weeks into the season. Losing Miguel Andújar early, who then elected for surgery on his torn labrum and missed the entire season, the Yankees began their 2019 campaign without Aaron Hicks, Didi Gregorius, Dellin Betances, and Luis Severino (also on the IL at this time were Jacoby Ellsbury and Ben Heller). Giancarlo Stanton went down soon after Andújar followed by Opening Day starting shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. CC Sabathia then went straight to the IL after serving his five game suspension to start the season. Only a week later, Gary Sánchez was placed on the IL as well. Then, on April 21, Aaron Judge hurt his oblique and went down too–it seemed like the Yankees just couldn’t catch a break. By the end of May, after coming back, CC Sabathia would serve another IL stint while James Paxton went down with a knee injury and Clint Frazier went down with a sprained ankle. Nine more Yankees would spend time on the IL in 2019. This lead to the call-ups of the likes of Gio Urshela, Mike Tauchman, Cameron Maybin, and other replacement players that shined in their new roles. Despite the adversity, the Yankees miraculously overcame these challenges, winning 103 games and capturing the AL East division title for the first time since 2012.
9) Aaron Judge breaks the rookie home run record
Aaron Judge’s Rookie-of-the-Year campaign in 2017 was a Yankee season to remember. Finishing with 52 home runs, a new rookie record at the time, Judge not only turned heads with his power numbers, but also with his budding clubhouse leadership and humility. Judge’s prowess at the plate lead the Yankees to their first ALCS appearance since 2012, where the Yankees fell in seven games to the Houston Astros.
8) 9-0 comeback win at Fenway Park on April 21st, 2012
On April 21st, 2012, on a mild early season day at Fenway Park, the Red Sox chased Yankees’ starter Freddy Garcia in the second. Through five frames, Boston lead by a score of nine to zero. The game seemed lost.
I actually remember watching this game with my mom back at home as a twelve-year-old, so I’ll take it from here from that angle. We had nothing to do on that Saturday afternoon, so we watched the Yankees get beat up by their arch rival. It was such a nice day, and we were getting antsy watching such a horrible game, so we left to go for a walk in the fourth inning. For whatever reason, my mom suggested that we leave the TV on for “good luck.” When we came back, Mark Teixeira hit a towering home run over the Green Monster to make the score 9-1.
The next inning, the Yankees broke out for seven runs, including a Nick Swisher grand-slam. Scoring seven more runs in the eighth, the Yankees handed the stunning 15-9 loss to former Yankee Domingo Acevedo, ballooning his ERA to 24.00.
This is maybe one of the most amazing comebacks I have ever seen. It was even better to do it at Fenway Park. I always keep the Yankees on for “good luck” when I go out during a game now.
7) Greg Bird’s solo HR in game 3 of the 2017 ALDS
In 2017, the Baby Bombers arrived early. After winning the Wild Card game against the Twins, the Yankees moved on to play the red-hot Cleveland team in the ALDS. Certainly the underdogs, the Yankees dropped the first two games in Cleveland before heading back to Yankee Stadium for a must-win Game 3. After a 9-8 loss in 13 innings the previous game, a pitcher’s duel ensued at the Stadium.
For the seventh inning, Cleveland called upon Andrew Miller, the tall lefty reliever that the Yankees had exchanged for young stud Clint Frazier a year prior. The leadoff hitter was Greg Bird, who was hitless in the game so far. On a 1-1 count, Miller dealt a high fastball over the heart of the plate to Bird who clocked the pitch into the upper deck in right field. The Stadium went nuts, and the Yankees in the dugout could barely contain themselves. That moment not only sealed a tight 1-0 victory for the Yankees that night, but it also shifted the momentum towards a Yankee team that would end up miraculously coming back in the series and advancing to the ALCS.
6) Mariano Rivera’s unanimous Hall of Fame induction
Put simply, no reliever has ever been better than Mariano Rivera. In a sport where relief pitching becomes more and more important with each season, and young, hard-throwing studs seem to come out of the woodwork to set up and close games, nobody has ever been better than the Sandman. The all-time saves leader was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this year unanimously, the first player ever to do so.
I will have more on the last man to ever wear #42 in Part 2…