Giancarlo Stanton Aaron Judge
Bob DeChiara | USA TODAY Sports

The 2021 season was all bark and no bite for the New York Yankees

2021 was supposed to be great for the New York Yankees.

Instead, it was more reminiscent of the 2013 blockbuster Iron Man 3: Overhyped, underwhelming, and disappointingly average. The offense never got rolling except for one glorious stretch in the summer. Pitching exceeded expectations, but a tired bullpen could only support a nonexistent offense for so long. And the injuries, all the injuries.

Add an AL Wild Card exit and a quiet offseason thus far, and the New York Yankees have more questions than answers heading into 2022. The roster still has holes, but hopefully general manager Brian Cashman can make use of an extended budget.

2021 Best Moment(s)

corey kluber
Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Disappointing finish aside, the Yankees still won 92 games and had a handful of key highlights over the season. Adding Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo at the trade deadline, and thus balancing the lineup was a nice tough. So too was a subsequent 13-game winning streak.

Oh, and how about former captain and star shortstop Derek Jeter getting inducted into the Hall of Fame and talking about everyone and everything except himself?

But the real standout moments belonged to two pitchers, veteran Corey Kluber and ace Gerrit Cole. In May, Kluber no-hit the Texas Rangers in Arlington before a shoulder injury shut him down until September. But in July, Cole took the mound in Houston against his former team, the Astros, and tossed a three-hit gem in a 1-0 victory.

Pitching coach Matt Blake has proven a great hire, so watch the New York Yankees’ arms in the new year.

2021 Worst Moment(s)

Aaron Boone Yankees
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Oof, where do I begin? The New York Yankees suffered not one but two COVID-19 outbreaks, and third base coach Phil Nevin didn’t return for almost a month. Getting swept by the Tigers in Detroit. Losing the AL Wild Card Game, and wondering just where all that 2019 momentum went in two short years.

Needless to say, the New York Yankees owe it to themselves to view 2022 as wiping the slate clean before reminding the rest of MLB who’s boss.

2021 Most Valuable Player

Aaron Judge New York Yankees
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Who knew that load management was the key to Aaron Judge staying off of the injured list? The star outfielder played in 148 games and hit .287 with 39 home runs and 98 RBI. Judge also saw an increase in walks to go with a drop in strikeouts, and posted a 5.5 WAR for the year. Now entering his age-30 season, the New York Yankees need to give him the lengthy extension he deserves before Opening Day.

Least Valuable Player

Gleyber Torres New York Yankees
Mandatory Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

Gleyber Torres had a career year and hit .278 with 39 home runs and 90 RBI in 2019, and the 22-year-old seemed primed for New York Yankees stardom. Since then, Torres has hit .255 with just 12 home runs and 67 RBI, and his defense at shortstop became such a problem that he was switched back to second base late in 2021. A natural contact hitter, Torres has since admitted he was trying too hard to hit for power for the last two years and adjusted to hit .289 in the second half.

Even so, he has no excuses for not bouncing back in 2022.

Overall 2021 Grade: C+


As Grogu’s Jedi predecessor once said, “Do or do not. There is no try.”

All too often in 2021, the New York Yankees tried to be great and get the one big hit rather than just be great and string a good inning together. Maybe it was cockiness, maybe it was MLB messing with the balls. Either way, if not for fighting to 92 wins and/or the 13-game winning streak, this grade would be a C, and maybe even lower.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.