Things haven’t been great for the Yankees in recent decades. Since winning the 1971 World Series, they’ve mostly been caught in the middle as a good but not great team. They’ve had a handful of playoff appearances but have yet to add another World Series crown.
However, now we’re into the 2010s, the Yankees have some intriguing players on their roster and in the minors. Could this be the decade the Yankees get back to the mountaintop?
2010: 87-75, 3rd in AL East, 19 GB, Team WAR Leader: SP Cliff Lee (8.7)
The Yankees start the new decade with a managerial change, hiring Gary Zagalow to lead them into the 2010s. He led the Yankees agonizingly close to a playoff berth, but they finished one game behind the Wild Card winner Red Sox after losing the final two games of the season to Boston. The final game of the season went 12 innings. Just a completely brutal way to miss the playoffs.
The Rays, led by Albert Pujols and Felix Hernandez win the World Series, sweeping Atlanta. The Yankees go on to add Rougned Odor in the draft.
2011: 67-95, 5th in AL East, 27 GB, Team WAR Leader: SP Cliff Lee (6.5)
Outside the team’s top three player of Lee, David Price, and Justin Upton, the Yankees are a mediocre team, leading them to fall back to last in the division.
The World Series ends with the exact same matchup and the same result as the year before: Rays beat Braves. The Yankees used their high pick in the draft to select Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.
2012: 74-88, 5th in AL East, 19 GB, Team WAR Leader: DH Eric Hosmer (6.5)
There’s a change in the MLB playoffs, with the advent of a Wild Card Game and a fifth playoff spot in each league.
In the offseason, Lee leaves and goes to Seattle in free agency, and the Yankees acquire young starter Michael Pineda to try and help in his absence. The Lee-less rotation takes a dip with only Price able to give the Yankees a good season.
The Red Sox beat the Dodgers in the World Series.
2013: 75-87, 4th in AL East, 27 GB, Team WAR Leader: SP Felix Hernandez (6.6)
The Yankees decide to make some moves to bolster their pitching staff. First, they acquire multi-time All-Star and 2002 Cy Young winner Andy Pettitte. Pettitte may be 40, but he still had put up some solid seasons in recent years. However, the big news was that they signed 2009 and ‘10 Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez for six years. He is excellent, but the offense lets him down, and the result is similar to the year before. The Angels, led by a 22-year old star Mike Trout, beat the Giants to win the title.
The 2013 draft is said to be one of the deepest, including the likes of Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, and Masahiro Tanaka, who go to the Cubs, Red Sox, and Indians respectively. The Yankees take outfielder Michael Conforto with their pick.
2014: 95-67, 2nd in AL East, 4 GB, Team WAR Leader: 1B Eric Hosmer (7.9)
The top two of Hernandez and Price and an offense led by an excellent season by Hosmer vault the Yankees way up the standings. They fall short of a good Blue Jays team for the division, but their 95 wins is enough for a wild card and the first playoff appearance since 2006.
However, the offense dried up in the Wild Card Game, as they lost 3-1 to the Orioles and their starting pitcher Adam Mills. Baltimore went all the way to the World Series, where they eventually fell to Marlins.
2015: 92-70, 2nd in AL East, 2 GB, Team WAR Leader: 2B Brian Dozer (7.8)
The Yankees make another big signing to try and get over the top when they sign Joey Votto for four years. He and a breakout season from Dozier help the Yankees to a really good season. Unfortunately, the Yankees are in a loaded American League, and 92 wins isn’t enough for even the second wild card.
A Giants team with a lineup containing Didi Gregorius and Brett Gardner beat the Tigers to win the crown.
2016: 84-78, 3rd in AL East, 5 GB, Team WAR Leader: SP David Price (6.8)
The Yankees make a managerial change and hire Robert Lesslie. In his first seaons, Conforto comes up and has an excellent rookie campaign, but the Yankees again come up short in a very competitive AL.
The Phillies and their second baseman DJ LeMahieu knock off the Angels to win the World Series.
2017: 64-98, 5th in AL East, 35 GB, Team WAR Leader: SP David Price (5.7)
Lesslie lasts just one year, as he is let go with Brent Gaff taking his place. In his first season, the offense is down and except for Price, this pitching is far from stellar. That leads to the Yankees falling all the way to last and one of the worst records in the league.
The World Series is the same as the year before with the Phillies knocking off the Angels once again. The Yankees use their high pick to select pitcher Casey Mize in the draft.
2018: 97-65, 2nd in AL East, 1 GB, Team WAR Leader: CF Mallex Smith (6.5)
Gaff also lasts one season, as he is replaced by Yankees’ bench coach Koichi Ikeue. He proceeds to take them right back up the standings. The Yankees come up just short in a battle with the Orioles for the division, but their 97 wins is more than enough for a wild card spot.
In the Wild Card Game, the Yankees beat the Astros fairly easily, thanks to eight strong innings from Price. Their ALDS opponents would be the Angels, who won 116 games thanks to a roster that features Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Corey Seager, Zack Greinke, and others. Unfortunately, the Yankees never stood a chance. The Angels swept through the Yankees.
However, the Orioles, led by their ace James Paxton, upset the Angels in the ALCS and went on to take down the Rockies in the World Series.
2019: 75-87, 5th in AL East, Team WAR Leader: Mallex Smith (6.1)
Despite signing Jose Altuve and Sonny Gray, the Yankees go in the wrong direction, slipping back to last place. It’s somewhat understandable considering that the east is a really good division where every other team finished at least .500.
After disappointing exits in the three prior postseasons, the Angels return to the top of the sport, beating the Brewers.
Yankee 2010s Award Winners
- Greg Maddux: Hall of Fame Class of 2014 (Inducted as a Blue Jay)
- Michael Conforto: 2016 AL Rookie of the Year