Even though the 2016 postseason will officially exclude the New York Yankees, that shouldn’t shred up all the advancement the organization has made.
A year ago today, the New York Yankees were enjoying a spot as the Wild Card winner with a berth in major league baseball’s postseason.
This season, New York will fall short of that mark — as Baltimore mathematically eliminated them on Thursday night — but 2016 was unquestionably a lot more successful season than 2015.
Sure, the thought that not seeing the postseason for the third time in four years steers away from the notion that every year should end with the Yankees on top, but times have changed.
Throughout this century, New York was about buying superstars, outspending other teams, and filling the seats at the corporate Yankee Stadium.
Simply put, they were just pushing buttons and spinning a wheel that would inevitably come to a stop. The stop occurred this season.
The first half of 2016 could be best described as was an engine without its accelerator. The most exciting part of the team was a 39-year old and a back-end of the bullpen that featured the best trio of relievers for a team that wouldn’t win even with them a part of it.
By the trade deadline the organization, that refused anything less than a championship, found itself at an even .500 (52-52) and decision-making time came.
Were the Steinbrenners going to continue to throw money at the problem in order to get a mediocre Yankees’ team to the second Wild Card, or let general manager Brian Cashman steer the ship towards the better water, even if it meant waiting for a storm to pass?
Although they won’t receive a ring to prove it, the latter decision to sell is the reason why fans will look back and observe this season as the inception of great times in the Bronx featuring its own signature moments.
Following the sale of Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, and Carlos Beltran, the became farm system was stocked with seven prospects in MLB.com’s Top-100 List and 2016 became an opportunity to check out what the kids had to offer.
The spark started with the Baby Bombers going back-to-back in their first at-bats, but let’s start with Sanchez. After all, no one provided more hope to a crippled franchise blinded by a narrow-minded mentality than the 23-year old backstop.
Later that night, rookie Tyler Austin hammered go-ahead tw0-run homer to drive New York to a 6-4 win over the AL East-winning Red Sox.
Don’t forget about Luis Cessa’s solid audition, Aaron Judge’s — although he struggled — demonstration of raw power and young guns getting big outs in big situations in the bullpen during the pennant chase.
Face it, these kids have made Yankees’ baseball entertaining again by building a firm foundation that seems unlikely to be torn down.
Having Sanchez penciled in as the everyday catcher starting on Opening Day next year and experiencing a full season of him will pay off in the standings. Immensely.
Sure, a fall off from his 1.050 OPS and 20 home runs in 51 games is expected, but he’s proven he can thoroughly pulverize major league pitching and gun down the speediest runners.
Sanchez was one of the main reasons why New York was able to go on a 20-9 run after Aug. 10. In fact, there’s no chance they pull within one game of a Wild Card spot on Sept. 10.
He is legit and his ability to carry a team should not be neglected.
With Greg Bird — who hit 11 home runs in 46 games (39 per 162 games) in 2015 — expecting to return next season, Austin’s role is in question.
As much potential as Judge and Luis Severino contain, they have just as much proving to do as Judge maintained a dismal 44% strikeout rate and Severino posted an 8.59 ERA in 10 starts.
Despite that, the franchise conceivably has a player to serve as a cornerstone to the franchise’s future.
Throw in their minor league system, which is now arguably the best, the theme in the Bronx is hope. Hope that this core of young superstars will help bring about multiple titles while building the new era of Yankees’ baseball.
This year’s postseason will, again, exclude the 27-time World Champions. However, it’s time to take that statement with a grain of salt and realize that it doesn’t mean the 2016 season was an immense failure.
Though work must be done this offseason to get the Bombers into a legitimate position to contend, there is a wave of freshness in Yankee land.
Christian Kouroupakis covers the New York Yankees for ESNY. Interact with him and view his daily work by “liking” his facebook page and follow him on Twitter. All statistics are courtesy of Baseball Reference.com unless otherwise noted. Don’t hesitate to shoot him an email with any questions, criticisms, or concerns.