Joe Girardi recently compared this New York Yankees’ team to the 1996 squad but just how much are these two teams actually alike?
“We haven’t been this young in a long time, maybe since 1996,” Girardi said in his first appearance at spring training, as reported by the New York Post. “But in that movement, there were a lot of young players and a lot of success.”
Well, here comes the pressure. If these Yankees look like the team from 1996, they’ll be expected to win it all this season.
No two seasons will ever be the same. For the Yankees, this season could look like 1996 or it could look like 2014. There’s no way to even remotely predict it, and that’s why Girardi hopes to light some fire under the team.
While the obvious comparison regarding young players is true, beyond that, just how similar are these two teams? Let’s take a look.
The 1996 season resulted in a 92-70 record and a World Series championship, its first in 18 years. The biggest similarity between 1996 and today is that both teams took homegrown players and gave them a shot to develop.
We’ve seen the Yankees build upon their already stacked farm system these past few years and now the time has come where players are on the edge of pinstripes.
Yankees from 21 years ago ushered in stars named Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera, some of the best names in the business. These modern day Yankees will witness the star power of Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Tyler Austin lighting up the Bronx for a full season.
Another interesting similarity between the squads is the dominance of the back end of the bullpen. The 1996 squad had veteran John Wetteland closing out the games with youngster Rivera acting as the squad’s setup man. This year’s team has young Dellin Betances setting up for hard-throwing closer Aroldis Chapman.
The 1996 team had no problem handing the game off to Rivera and Wetteland and the 2017 team will be even more confident in calling on Betances and Chapman.
Even though they have a few things in common, there are also several differences that make this 2017 team unique. For example, the 1996 Yankees used their offseason to primarily obtain veteran starting pitchers to complete the rotation. The 2017 Yankees? No so much.
1996 found the Yankees signing veterans like David Cone and Dwight Gooden. The former New York Mets aces were able to secure the rotation, instead of relying heavily on a youth presence on the mound — and it seemed like it worked out for them.
The 2017 Yankees sought to sign veterans, just not ones that would benefit the starting rotation. The signings of Chris Carter, Matt Holliday and Chapman filled some holes but ultimately left the most important hole wide open.
Another stunning difference between these Yankees teams is the age of the rotation. While the 2017 Yankees have only one pitcher in their starting rotation over the age of 30. Of the first five pitchers in the 1996 rotation, four were above the age of 30.
Andy Pettite was the only starter in the first five under 30, coming in at 24 years old. In 2017, the Yankees are looking at Masahiro Tanaka (28), Michael Pineda (27) and potentially Bryan Mitchell (25), Luis Severino (22), Adam Warren (29) or Luis Cessa (24) to join the one aging starter in CC Sabathia (36).
Wow. What a difference. A big reason the Yankees got to the 1996 World Series was their starting pitching and the 2017 Yankees may have youth on their side, but maybe they need a veteran presence on the mound.
Lastly, the 1996 squad was brimming with leaders who took on the role of mentoring the young stars. The 2017 team does not have that same leadership.
They’ve got Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner to christen in the new generation of Yankees. The 1996 team had Wade Boggs, Gooden, Cone, Girardi and so many more. They were bursting with leadership, unlike today’s team.
While comparisons are easy to make with these two young teams, there are also several reasons why this 2017 team will be different. They may not be totally the same, but we’d love for the 2017 team to turn out just like the 1996 team did.
Guess we’ll have to just wait and see.