'Tis the season to show gratefulness. Although Thanksgiving was yesterday, it’s a good time to look back, a month or so after the Yankees season came to a discouraging end at the hands of the Houston Astros, and acknowledge the good things about this team —most importantly, the things we’re all thankful for.
With this article, we’ll look at the three reasons we’re thankful for the Yankees, and be sure to leave your own in the comment section. Specifically, what is it about this ballclub that leaves you in a grateful mood.
1: The surprise breakout of Nestor Cortes
It is hard to find a more heartwarming story in baseball in 2022 than the outstanding performance of this Cuban southpaw. Cortes made headlines and earned his way into the All-Star Game as the de facto ace of one of the best rotations in baseball, when he came into this year as a virtual unknown, at least to the rest of the league.
An added bonus in the clip above is Jose Trevino, whose own improbable ascent to the Yankees’ starting role behind the plate was its own awesome story.
Cortes was a 36th-round pick by the Yankees in 2013, and never really garnered a lot of hype as a prospect (or any for that matter). Entering his age-27 season, the southpaw didn’t have a lot of Major League experience, with only 16 starts under his belt, and no success whatsoever prior to the 2021 campaign.
However, the signs were there in the prior season that this starter was working on something special. Cortes had a 2.90 ERA over 93 innings and certainly flashed signs of dominance, but with what at first glance didn’t seem like overwhelming stuff, and a heavy reliance on deception, many assumed he’d get exposed over a larger sample size.
Instead, Cortes carried over on that success and rode a cutter-heavy arsenal into one of the best seasons by a starter in the AL. His performance completely changed the outlook of this whole team, which all of a sudden wouldn’t need to rely as much on Luis Severino coming off a significant injury, could get by with a Gerrit Cole who wasn’t at his best, and a Frankie Montas who basically never truly arrived.
How can you not be grateful to have Nestor Cortes on this roster for years to come?
2: The health of Luis Severino
Speaking of Sevy, it was a bit of a bumpy road with a significant IL stint in the second half, but how good was it to have the two-time All-Star back healthy after years of dealing with major issues? The longest-tenured Yankee in this rotation showed why he was one of the more highly-regarded hurlers in the sport in 2017 and 2018, tossing 112 innings to a 1.00 WHIP and 3.18 ERA in his return.
Sevy’s stuff can simply baffle hitters on any given night, as he particularly proved in a memorable start in Texas at the end of the regular season:
It is such a boost to have Severino back in this rotation, and healthy heading into 2023. With the entire off-season still to go, and plenty of things left undecided — most notably the future of Aaron Judge — one can be rest assured that this team will have a top three in the rotation capable of going toe-to-toe with anyone.
3: Aaron Judge’s historic 2022 season
It is a cruel exercise to imagine Judge in another uniform, but at this point, the reality of that possibility must be acknowledged. However, as we all remain at the edge of our seats, before finding out the future of the 2022 AL MVP, it’s nice to look back and see that we all witnessed history: an unbelievable 62 home runs during a year in which no one else came close to 50.
Judge posted a 207 wRC+, a WAR that’s video game-esque, and we’ve all heard the numbers a million times. The likelihood that anyone posts this level of performance over the next couple of decades is very small.
The Yankees’ superstar hitter transcended baseball, and he transcended any individual awards. Ten, fifteen years from now, will you be able to say which hitters won the MVP in 2020 or 2021, who knows? However, you’ll certainly remember that one ridiculous Aaron Judge season. Hopefully, the one that earned him the largest payday in New York Yankees history.
Let us know what you’re most thankful for.