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The legacy of the 2016 Yankees

Photo by Rich Pilling/MLB via Getty Images

Yankees fans don’t hold the 2016 season in high regard, and who can blame them? The club finished with an 84-78 record, missing the postseason for the third time in four years. The team performed so poorly that they sold off at the trade deadline—an act anathema to “the Yankees way.”

But, what if I told you that 2016 represented more than a failed season? Would you believe me? How about if I said that the 2016 Yankees were one of the most important teams in recent history?

Before you take away my blogger license, hear me out. I recruited a few of my colleagues to explore the 2016 Yankees from top-to-bottom, in nearly 10,000 words all together. Give us a week to change your mind. Let us make the case that we should flip our perspective of the 2016 Bombers on its head, and appreciate that summer for ushering in the Baby Bombers run.

And here’s how we’ll do it.

Five feature-length stories make up the series. Each one covers an individual topic, but when taken together, they trace the course of the 2016 season.

On Monday afternoon, we begin with a brief history, examining how the Yankees found themselves in the position to rebuild. Tuesday we dive into the fateful series against the Rays, in the 72 hours leading up to the 2016 trade deadline. Wednesday brings a comparison of the crown jewels of the tradeoff: Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier. Retracing the back-to-back home runs by Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge follows on Thursday. Then, on Friday, the series wraps up by looking at Gary Sanchez’s remarkable stretch run.

We included a full tracker of the posts here for easy access. As each story publishes, the link will go live.

Monday, May 18
How the Yankees fell from champions to also-rans

Tuesday, May 19
Sweep Surrender: Inside the three days leading to the Yankees’ selloff

Wednesday, May 20
Imperfect Science: The divergent paths of two Yankees top prospects

Thursday, May 21
Back to Back: The home runs that ignited the Yankees’ youth movement

Friday, May 22
Garymania: When Gary Sanchez re-energized the Yankees

For nearly two years I sought after a sequel to Home Run or Bust, one of the finest features PSA has published, if you ask me. Plenty of ideas surfaced, but none merited special treatment. We came close to pulling off a series last November, called Not Your Grandfather’s Yankees, but the Astros sign-stealing scandal, combined with a number of other outside factors, killed that project before it got off the ground.

Last month, I revisited the idea with Josh. I suggested a feature-length story on Clint Frazier, and he responded with this:

Y’know what would be interesting? Two big features, one on Torres and one on Frazier. Comparing and contrasting, since they were acquired at the same time, and were relatively-similar prospects. But obviously one has flourished, and the other hasn't. Part of it is injury but, Gleyber has missed time, too.

And then the lightbulb went off. Rebuilt was born.

I always say, that as authors, we enjoy bylines for our work; we get our credit at the top of each story. This project, however, was brought to its full potential thanks the hard work of a number of individuals who also deserve recognition.

Tanya Bondurant, former PSA site manager and current SB Nation MLB League Manager, energetically endorsed this series from day one. She provided the technical resources and support to make these posts stand out.

Dan Brink, PSA’s graphic designer, is the unsung hero of the site. He provided the artwork for the posts themselves, as well as the marketing. I told Dan about the project, and he translated my ideas into images. His ability to enhance our stories, to add energy and life to them, knows no limits.

Buster Olney, Michael Kay, and Ryan Ruocco have our continued gratitude. They each took time out of their busy schedules to answer our questions. Their expert insights added great depth to our stories. Not only do they represent some of the most plugged-in voices in the game, they also stand out for their kindness and helpfulness.

Lastly, you, the readers, deserve our many thanks. Without you, there would be no PSA. You illustrated that when the season was suspended; you continued to show up to read our stories. I hope that you enjoy our hard work, and that, like the Yankees in 2016, it makes you proud of the direction in which we’re heading.

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