The November 7th deal that sent Kenny Rogers away from New York and to the Oakland Athletics was seemingly just a salary dump to get rid of a free agent signing that very much did not work out. After two less than stellar years of a contracted four, the Yankees were ready to be done with Rogers, and sent him to Oakland for a player to be named later.
Most PTBNLs tend to be a player still in the minors who is a bit of a lottery ticket prospect, at best. In this case, 11 days later, the A’s sent someone back with some major league experience in Scott Brosius
Brosius had played seven major league seasons with Oakland, and had some pretty solid seasons. However, he was coming off a poor 1997 where he hit just .203/.259/.317. That being said, with Wade Boggs’ departure, the Yankees had an opening at third that Brosius had the potential to fill, if even just as a solid defensive option.
Not only would Brosius fill that opening, but he ended up being a a notable contributor to one of the most famous years in Yankees’ history.
1998 Statistics: 152 games, 603 plate appearances, .300/.371/.472, 19 home runs, 98 RBI, 123 wRC+, 5.0 fWAR, 5.3 bWAR
Brosius would get the starting nod at third base straight from Opening Day. It took him until his third game to record his first hit and struggled a bit in general during his first month in pinstripes, OPS’ing just .638 in April.
He started May with one-hit and two-hit games on May 1st and 2nd, and then went 3-for-4 on the 3rd. From there, Brosius was off to the races. Over the course of May, he hit .396/.466/.593, a 179 OPS+ compared to the league average for the 1998 season.
Brosius followed that up with a good June, and soon found himself selected to his first ever All-Star Game. He was named a reserve for the AL team in that year’s Midsummer Classic, which was held at Coors Field in Denver. He got to play the last couple innings and went 1-for-2, scoring a run in a 13-8 AL win.
After a brief slump in July, Brosius closed the year with OPS’es of .932 and .891 in August and September, helping the Yankees to a historic season. As a team, the Yankees racked up 114 wins, which is still the second most all-time in a single season. Brosius wasn’t just a lower order bat, defense-first passenger for that success. According to Baseball-Reference WAR he finished tied for third on the team leaderboard, and according to FanGraphs was fourth. He was a key cog as the Yankees just kept motoring along.
His year was far from over too. Brosius was good in both the ALDS and ALCS, OPSing 1.110 and .848 as the Yankees won those series and three and six games respectively. In the clinching Game 6 of the ALDS, he hit a three-run homer that took the Yankees lead from 3-0 to 6-0. However, he saved his best for the Fall Classic.
After going 1-for-4 in Game 1, Brosius had a three-hit performance in Game 2 against the Padres, helping the Yankees to a 9-3 win and a 2-0 series lead. In Game 3, it seemed like San Diego was poised to bounce back when they took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth. Leading off the top of the seventh, Brosius got a rally attempt started in a good way, homering off Sterling Hitchock.
The Yankees would add another run in the inning to get within one. After Paul O’Neill led off the eighth with a walk, the Padres went to their star and future Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman for a six-out save. After Hoffman got Bernie Williams to fly out, he walked Tino Martinez, which brought Brosius back to the plate. After getting the count to 2-2, Brosius took a Hoffman pitch just over the distance marker in dead center, flipping the score and giving the Yankees a 5-3 lead. While San Diego would get one run back, the Yankees won the game to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the series.
Brosius had one last hit — an RBI single — in Game 4 as the Yankees finished off the sweep. For hitting .471/.471/.824 in the series, Brosius was named World Series MVP.
Brosius was never quite that productive again, but he helped the Yankees to two further World Series titles. He retired after the 2001 World Series, which ended in a losing effort, but did include some more heroics by Brosius.
The 1998 Yankees would’ve been pretty good no matter what, but they were that much better thanks to a career year from Scott Brosius. Not bad for someone who was a player to be named later less than a year ago.