In the game of baseball, anything can happen in the matter of a week. All-Stars can play like replacement-level players and scrubs can put up Hall of Fame numbers. Over the last few years the Yankees have seen plenty of both happen, most recently with Chris Young in 2014, however they have also seen big weeks from Alfonso Soriano in 2013 and DeWayne Wise in 2012. Let's take a look through the last three seasons:
Chris Young (2014)
By 2014, Chris Young had seen his stock tumble considerably over the years. He went from a promising young center fielder to a complimentary bench bat with the Diamondbacks. He struggled mightily in 2013 with the Oakland Athletics, so the $7.2 million deal the Mets gave him last year was more than anyone expected him to be worth. Unfortunately for everyone, it went exactly as expected and Young only managed to hit .205/.283/.346 before he was cut from the roster in mid-August. Suffering from Carlos Beltran's inability to play the outfield, the Yankees struggled to find a useful replacement with both Ichiro and Alfonso Soriano proving to be ineffective. They picked up Young in an effort to improve their game against left-handed hitters, but what they ended up getting was far more than anyone expected, at least for a little while.
After joining the team on September 2, Young hit a tremendous .367/.406/.833 with three home runs, five doubles and eight RBI in 32 plate appearances from September 9 to September 16. He managed to collect six hits and seven RBI in a three-game series with the Rays that was highlighted by a game-tying home run in game 2 of the series. He collected three hits and two RBI that night as he helped the Yankees win 8-5.
Perhaps his best game of that hot streak was his night against Alex Cobb and the Rays on the 11th. That night, the Yankees had been held hitless for eight innings before Young broke up the righty's no-hit bid and chased him from the game.
He wasn't done, though, as he also managed to cap a Yankee comeback win. Jake McGee hit Chase Headley with a pitch and surrendered a double to Ichiro before eventually giving up a walk-off three-run home run to the unstoppable Chris Young
The next day was the unfortunate doubleheader with the Orioles, but he still made his presence known that night too. Brandon McCarthy and Kevin Gausman traded zeroes for seven innings before turning things over to the bullpen for another three innings of scoreless baseball. The Yankees finally went ahead in the top of the 11th when Chris Young hit what seemed like a game-winning solo home run off Brad Bach.
Unfortunately, since the Yankees already used Dellin Betances and David Robertson over multiple innings that day, Joe Girardi had to rely on Adam Warren to get the final three outs. Warren lost the game on two walks and a hit, leaving the bullpen overworked for the night game that they also ended up losing.
While Chris Young dominated over those days, no one else really did and the Yankees ended up going 3-5, moving from 11 to 14.5 games out of first place and dropping a half game down to six games out of a wild card slot. After initially bursting onto the scene to much celebration and laughter at the expense of the Mets, reality set back in and Young finished the last two weeks of the season with a quiet .225/.326/.300 batting line that should have left no one surprised. Even after the way things finished out, the Yankees saw enough of him, and likely Ichiro as well, to lock him down to a $2.5 million contract for the 2015 season to serve as the fourth outfielder.
Alfonso Soriano (2013)
In 2013, Soriano was on a Cubs team that was in need of a serious makeover. He was owed $36 million over the next two years and with the Yankees desperately in need of a right-handed bat, they had no problem paying $10 million to bring him back to New York. At the time, Soriano was hitting .254/.287/.467 with 17 home runs in Chicago, so while he wasn't offering too much, the Yankees were hoping to cash in on some of that home run power he was showing. Over his first 10 games after the trade, Soriano only managed a .211/.231/.316 batting line with one home run and things weren't looking too great.
Luckily for everyone involved, Soriano has always been known as a streaky hitter over his career and just when things were looking bad, he came back to life in a big way. Over a nine-game span from August 7 to August 16, the Yankee slugger went on an offensive rampage by putting up a .432/.475/1.027 batting line with seven home runs. He got things started on August 7 when he clubbed a home run off Hector Santiago in a game that eventually featured Mariano Rivera and Adam Warren each giving up the lead over 12 innings.
Things really picked up for him on August 11 when he went yard off of Justin Verlander for his 2,000th career hit. That day the Yankees managed to score four runs on seven hits against Verlander while also managing to survive a start where Andy Pettitte only managed to go 4.1 innings.
He then had the first of two monster games in a row, collecting three hits, two home runs, and six RBI on the 13th as the Yankees trounced the Angels and demolished Jason Vargas and Joe Blanton for 14 runs total.
He collected another three hits and two home runs with seven RBI the next day as he helped the Yankees score 11 runs, nine runs on Jered Weaver alone, against LA. Check out that double point!
On the 15th, Soriano's four-hit game proved to be the brightest part of the day, as Phil Hughes and Boone Logan teamed up to surrender six runs in a losing effort.
Soriano capped off his hot streak on the 16th with a three-hit, four-RBI night as part of a 10-3 route of the Red Sox.
When it was all said and done, he had tied a major league record for collecting 18 RBI over a four-day span, but that wasn't all:
Via @eliassports - Alfonso Soriano is 1st player in MLB history with 12 H, 18 RBI in a 4-game span— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 17, 2013
Alfonso Soriano is 4th Yankees player to have 4 straight games w/ 3 H, RBI. Others: Lou Gehrig, Steve Kemp, Johnny Damon— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 17, 2013
Alfonso Soriano has hit 9 HR since the ASB. The rest of the Yankees combined have hit 11 (including tonight).— YCPB (@cantpredictball) August 17, 2013
Obviously what he had done was something very special and memorable. The idea that he would be a disappointing addition, especially since the team was already struggling and likely out of the playoff race at the time of his acquisition, was long gone at this point and the deal seemed like a steal. The Yankees went 6–3 over those nine days and went from being 11.5 games out of first place to 7.5, giving the Yankees and their fans a false sense of hope. Unfortunately, Soriano would go on to hit only .222/.311/.451 with nine home runs over the next 39 games, essentially proving that he would be exactly what he was with the Cubs–all power, nothing else.
With the team missing the playoffs in 2013, the trade seemed fruitless and they would be stuck with him for another year. In 2014, Soriano never seemed to find that hot streak that he always needed and instead limped to a .221/.244/.367 batting line with six home runs before the Yankees finally cut ties with him in July, already far too late to make any kind of impact on the roster. He sat out the remainder of the year and announced his retirement in the offseason. In retrospect, that amazing week in August of 2013 might have been the swan song to an impressive career.
DeWayne Wise (2012)
By the 2012 season DeWayne Wise had spent time with five organizations, including three different stints with the Toronto Blue Jays. He never really amounted to much, only managing a .219/.256/.373 batting line through nine MLB seasons, though he briefly made headlines with the White Sox in 2009 when he made an outstanding catch to rob Gabe Kapler of a home run and preserve Mark Buehrle's perfect game. When he finally made his way to the Yankees organization before his age-34 season, his brief fame had done nothing for his career on the field. After some time in Triple-A Scranton, Wise has the distinction of being the player to replace Mariano Rivera on the active roster after the closer tore his ACL on the fateful day in Kansas City. From May 4 to June 24, he hit a measly .133/.161/.167 over 31 plate appearances as a reserve outfielder, and was likely not staying with the team for too much longer before something remarkable happened.
Between June 25 and July 3, a span of eight days, DeWayne Wise turned into someone else, hitting an insane 500/.526/.1.167 with three home runs and six RBI in only 19 plate appearances. The fun started on the 25th with an RBI triple off Indians reliever Scott Barnes:
Maaaaaybe he was out, but he ended the night with a home run and three RBI.
Then he went on to have a big day against his old team on the 30th when he went 3-for-3 with a home run and two RBI against Jake Peavy and the White Sox. Peavy actually managed to go 8.0 innings while striking out 11 and walking zero, so getting an offensive boost that nearly proved to be the difference in the game from such an unlikely source made it that much more worthy of a highlight reel.
Along the way, he even found the time to do a little pitching when he was called upon to get the last two outs of a 14-7 blowout loss. He managed to get Paul Konerko and Alex Rios out in order to clean up Cory Wade's seven-hit, six-run mess.
He also probably made one of the best non-catches of the year when he dove over the wall to make a spectacular catch that replay proved he never actually made.
The catch made its way around the internet and TV in the days following, though it would have easily been overruled by extended replay if it happened today.
The Yankees went 5-3 over those eight days and increased their three-game lead on the division to five games in that time. Unfortunately, Wise's success wasn't fated to last. In the days that followed his amazing run, he only managed to hit .231/.231/.308 and ended up overturning whatever goodwill he had built up for himself. By that time, the Yankees decided to make an upgrade by trading for Ichiro Suzuki and it was all over for DeWayne Wise with the Yankees. They designated him for assignment and he caught back on with the White Sox for the end of the season. He played 30 games with Chicago in 2013, but never accomplished much. He hasn't been seen since.
While Wise's hot streak was certainly more impressive by the numbers and Soriano's approached the history books, Young changed the course of several games and could have effected even more if the Yankees were as good of a team as they were in years past. Still, Young's performance got him another contract, while Wise and Soriano got the boot. If there's anything we can learn from this exercise it's that you shouldn't be blinded by the excitement of a small sample in this sport. DeWayne Wise was a scrub who turned it on for a second, Soriano was a perennial All-Star doing what he did best, and Chris Young was a decent player locked in for a solid week. Scouts can tell the difference and hopefully that means Young won't end up as another forgettable backup outfielder who disappears in the middle of the season.