It’s been nearly 10 years since the Yankees last won the World Series. If they don’t find a way to stand atop the league this year, it will be the first time since 1988 that the Yankees went a decade without winning the Fall Classic. While the cast of characters has mostly changed since the 2009 championship, the 2019 club has similar title aspirations. As the postseason approaches, it makes sense to look at the strengths and weaknesses of these two teams as well as their similarities and differences.
To begin with, the 2009 Yankees consisted of a team of veterans. The Core Four were all playing in the latter halves of their careers, and the Yankees brought in a lot of experienced players hungry for a championship. That included a 28-year-old CC Sabathia, 28-year-old Nick Swisher, 29-year-old Mark Teixeira, and 32-year-old A.J. Burnett.
The Yankees of 2019, on the other hand, feature an electrifying young core. The storyline of the season, however, has been the roster’s incredible depth. The group, led by second-year manager Aaron Boone, has rallied around the “next man up” mentality and almost everyone on the 40-man roster has made a significant contribution to the team’s success.
The 2009 Yankees couldn’t be more different. Seven out of the nine players in their starting lineup played at least 140 games that year; Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada were the only two who fell under 140 games respectively due to injury and regular rest. From April to October, you knew what you were getting from that team. The same players trotted out onto the field every day.
While the identities of the two teams are vastly different, their offensive productions were rather similar. The 2009 Yankees scored 915 runs while the 2019 Yankees scored 943 runs. Both teams finished with the same regular-season record of 103-59 and both won the AL East.
The 2019 Yankees broke their own home-run record, hitting 306 homers. The rate of home runs being hit is much higher than it was 10 years ago, however, the 2009 Yankees still hit 244. This year’s Yankees had 14 players on the roster who had double-digit home runs, while the 2009 team had nine. On top of that, both teams had exactly seven players clear 20.
More specifically, the 2009 Yankees had two great hitters in Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano. They hit .334 and .320, respectively. The 2019 squad has had good hitters in DJ LeMahieu and Gio Urshela, but they have been on a different level than the rest of the team all year. The 2009 team had a .283 team batting average while this year’s team has a .267 team batting average
How about the pitching? To begin, they had very similar team earned run averages with the 2009 teams posting a 4.26 ERA and the 2019 team posting a 4.31 ERA. Adjusting for season averages, meanwhile, shows that the 2009 team had slight edge in the pitching department. The 2009 Bombers had a 93 ERA-, while the 2019 Yankees checked in at 94.
The biggest difference between these two pitching staffs is the bullpen the 2019 squad has. This is easily the best bullpen in baseball boasting three pitchers with under a 2.50 ERA. The only reliever from the 2009 team that could fit in that category was the closer Mariano Rivera.
In the last 10 seasons, the play style and overall strategy of winning in baseball have changed dramatically. These teams have incredibly different identities and have found success in different ways. Yet in the end, they were able to produce remarakbly similar seasons. On top of all this, just another weird coincidence is both of these teams met up with the Twins in the ALDS. The 2009 playoffs ended up with the Yankees on top. Will the 2019 Yankees have the same luck? We’ll soon find out.