The 2017 New York Yankees season was one long thrill ride. Let's take a look at some of the top stories of the year:
1. Aaron Judge
Aaron Judge burst onto the scene in 2016 by homering in his first MLB at-bat. Expectations were quickly tempered, however, when the young right fielder completed that campaign by striking out 42 times in only 95 plate appearances. He was then forced to compete for a starting job in spring training.
He won that job, and went on to produce arguably the greatest debut season in baseball history. Judge was the unanimous choice for Rookie of the Year, while finishing second in the MVP balloting. Along the way, he set new rookie marks for both home runs (52) and walks (127).
Judge was a Triple Crown contender for most of the first half, before cooling considerably after the All-Star break. He rebounded to put up his best numbers in September, and he was the Bomber's top run-producer during the team's dramatic 13-game postseason run. All Rise was not only the Yankees' biggest story of the year; He was one of the most celebrated figures in all of baseball.
2. Giancarlo Stanton
Having a homegrown prospect produce a season for the ages is a very exciting thing to watch unfold. Witnessing your team acquire a defending MVP is quite another thrill. Yankees fans managed to enjoy both experiences this year.
New Marlins owner Derek Jeter dealt Giancarlo Stanton to New York for Starlin Castro and a pair of low-level prospects. The deal unites the two defending home run champs for the upcoming season.
Stanton clubbed 59 homers last year, becoming only the third player outside of the steroids era to reach that plateau. Fittingly, the other two sluggers (Babe Ruth and Roger Maris), were both Yankees when they did it.
The 28-year-old Stanton is now the veteran in the heart of the Yankees order. Surrounded by Baby Bombers like Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Greg Bird, Stanton's addition to the lineup is already causing Yankees fans to salivate over the possibility that New York might reclaim the single-season team home run record.
3. Luis Severino
Luis Severino spent a couple of years bouncing around. Last offseason, he received guidance from Pedro Martinez. By the end of the year, Severino had finished third in the Cy Young voting. He became the Yankees' new ace along the way.
4. Gary Sanchez
Gary Sanchez had a historic, albeit abbreviated rookie campaign in 2016. He belted 20 homers in less than two months and finished second in the ROY voting. Everyone wondered whether he could keep up that torrid pace in his sophomore season.
The Kraken responded by swatting 33 home runs, setting a new Yankees' team record for long balls by a catcher. Think of all the legendary Yankees' backstops immortalized in Monument Park: Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, Thurman Munson, and Jorge Posada. Yet, none hit more home runs in a year than Sanchez. And he missed a month due to injury.
5. Thirteen postseason games, 7 wins
The Bronx Bombers rode a Wild Card berth all the way to Game 7 of the LCS. They had to overcome a 3-0 deficit in that first game to advance, but they did. They were down two games to none versus Cleveland in the Division Series, but they came back to win three-in-a-row. And they were down 0-2 in games to Houston, before winning three straight to come within a single victory of the franchise's 41st World Series. Someone forgot to tell our pinstriped heroes that this was supposed to be a rebuilding year.
6. Mid-season trades
The mid-season trades that brought Todd Frazier, Tommy Kahnle, David Robertson, and Sonny Gray to the Bronx helped the Yankees lock up their playoff spot and advance once they got there. All but Frazier are under contract for next year.
7. Masahiro Tanaka
Masahiro Tanaka had a really rough first half. He had the worst ERA in the league at one point. But there were some brilliant starts mixed in. He threw probably the best game of his career in April, a complete game shutout at Fenway. Later in the season, he set his career high with 13 strikeouts in a game. He subsequently topped it with 14, and bested it again with 15 k's in his final regular season start.
But Tanaka was just getting started. He threw a pair of seven-inning shutouts in the playoffs, including the Game 3 elimination contest against the Tribe, which the Bombers won 1-0. Tanaka also outdueled Dallas Keuchel in their LCS rematch at Yankee Stadium, after having lost a 2-1 heartbreaker in Houston. In all, Tanaka gave up two runs in three postseason starts.
The biggest Tanaka headline came after the season, though, when he announced that he was not going to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract. And Tanaka stayed healthy all year for the first time since joining the club in 2014.
8. Jordan Montgomery
There was a long list of pitchers competing for rotation spots at the start of spring training, but Jordan Montgomery wasn't on it. Still, he came from nowhere to win the fifth slot. The left-hander threw over 150 innings, garnering a few down-ballot ROY votes for his efforts.
9. Chad Green
Chad Green was the runner-up for that final rotation spot. He joined the bullpen and became a trusted weapon. He had a historically great year for a reliever, in fact. The Yanks may not have won that Wild Card game if it were not for Green's relief effort.
10. Didi Gregorius
Didi Gregorius continued his development, setting the Yankees single-season record for home runs by a shortstop with 25. He was a trusted hitter, batting third of fourth throughout the playoffs.
- CC Sabathia continued his bounce-back in a big way. He became the Yankees' stopper, going 10-1 in games following a New York loss. The lone defeat came in ALCS Game 7.
- Greg Bird returned from a season-long injury to make a big impact in the playoffs.
- Aaron Hicks had a break-out year. He was second in the league in OPS (behind Judge) midway through the season before getting hurt.
What do you think were the top Yankees' stories of 2017? Let us know in the comments section below.