Whether a top prospect or someone totally unheralded, when a rookie comes up and makes an impact, it's pretty fun. Every new rookie has a chance to be the next superstar. Most won't be, but if they come up and play well, it's pretty easy to start dreaming.
Q: Greg Bird and Luis Severino have come up and made huge contributions in the major leagues this season. What is your all-time favorite performance from a Yankee rookie?
Joba Chamberlain in 2007 will always bring back bittersweet memories, but while things were going well it was a sight to behold. Seeing a young Joba hit 101 on the radar gun and blow hitters away with little difficulty was incredibly fun to watch, especially since the Yankees bullpen minus Mo was pretty shaky. Somehow, I don't see Joba's rise and fall getting a 30 for 30 documentary though.
Robinson Cano's 2005 campaign made him my favorite Yankee from the get-go, so I will always be partial to that in terms of full-season rookie performance. However, if I were to pick one moment, I would pick that June Yankees/Red Sox game in 2006 when a 21-year-old Melky Cabrera flat-out robbed Manny Ramirez of a game-tying homer in the eighth inning. Even though Melky's Yankees career was up-and-down, that will always stick out in my mind.
Oh yeah, and it bailed the crap out of Kyle Farnsworth, too. Shocker.
As much as I enjoyed the smaller rookie runs of the Shane Spencers and Kevin Maases of the world, I still have to say that the most memorable performance by a rookie in my lifetime as a Yankees fan has to be that of Derek Jeter. As soon as he took the reigns at SS in 1996, it's like we knew everything would be alright. He homered on opening day, and ended up hitting well over .300, and anchoring the middle of the infield through the franchise's first World Series title in 18 years. He contributed to the playoffs run as well, hitting over .400 in the ALDS and ALCS, and .250 against the Braves in the World Series. Not bad for a 22-year old, and he was just getting started.
Orlando Hernandez debuted in June, 1998 and was one of the best pitchers in the league for the rest of the season. Besides being great on the mound, he brought a certain swagger and style to the otherwise buttoned-up Yankees that was a lot of fun to watch. So much intrigue. Why does he pick his leg up so high in his wind-up? How old is he really? Why doesn't Coney have a dance?
I'm going to go a little recent with this one, but I really liked how the storyline with Masahiro Tanaka unfolded. One of the most talked about international rookies ever, I was really looking forward to watching the next big Yankees pitcher. I was worried when I saw how much the Yankees spent on Tanaka, but those worries went away when I saw him pitch. Tanaka's 2.77 ERA in 20 starts was awesome to watch, and it's a shame that he got hurt. Even if 2014 was an unsuccessful season as a team, it was great watching a rookie like Tanaka throw like he did.
This is probably recency bias, but I'm going with Dellin Betances last year. He had brief cups of coffee in 2011 and 2013, but after transitioning to the bullpen in Triple-A in 2013, he finally actually made the big league team in 2014. And my god, was he awesome. He threw 90 innings of nearly un-hittable pitching. He struck out 135 and had a 277 ERA+ on his way to a third-place finish in Rookie of the Year voting. Despite his recent hiccups, he's been as good this year too, all while being incredibly fun to watch.
Those are our answers and now we want to hear from you. What are your favorite Yankees' rookie seasons?