When people think of the New York Yankees, a lot of words come to mind. Legends. Hall of Famers. Unfortunately, another word that pops up is age. After the Yankees’ World Series title in 2009, things have not gone very smoothly for them. Sure, they made the playoffs for the next couple of years, but it was clear that these were not the same Yankees that captured the title just a couple seasons ago.
2013 was when people could really see how far the Yankees were falling, as they failed to make the postseason for the first time since 2008. The reason was simple: they relied on too many old players. While these players may have given them great results in the past, their bodies wore down as time went on and the Yankees were lost at sea without a paddle.
A couple years went by with the Yankees trying to win with washed up stars, but the fans got annoyed. To them, being mediocre was worse than being bad. Mediocrity is the constant teasing that your team might be good, but nobody can seem to figure out how to make that team good.
The Yankees fell down that path, but they’re starting to dig out of that hole this year. By following the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros models of rebuilding teams by dealing aging players and stockpiling young prospects, the future of the Yankees looks as bright as ever. Some fans, however, became angry as the rebuilding process started. People were furious that they would give up their best players, like Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller, just for some guys who might be good in the future.
With the way the Yankees are playing right now, it’s fair to say that those fans probably overreacted. The Yankees’ new infusion of young talent has sparked the clubhouse and the team, as they now sit 3.5 games back from a Wild Card position. Just a couple of weeks ago, the Yankees were an afterthought when it came to potential postseason teams. But now, with the way that they have been playing of late, it’s hard to ignore them.
The man who is leading the charge is Gary Sanchez, a solid catching prospect whose start to the season has been otherworldly. Through 23 games, Sanchez has hit for an outstanding .398 batting average while also clubbing 11 home runs, the most ever for this many games for a rookie in MLB history. Sanchez has been so good that Yankees first baseman Mark Teixiera said that you would walk Gary Sanchez to face Babe Ruth, according to a recent ESPN article. That means pitchers should be more afraid to face Sanchez now than one of the best baseball players of all time, Babe Ruth.
Even if the Yankees don’t make the postseason this year, fans can admit that this season actually inspired hope in the franchise–something that certainly has not happened in awhile.