Without a 28th World Series title, it’s easy to say the 2016 Yankees season was not a success.
Despite the disappointment of failing to make the playoffs for the third time in four seasons, 2016 was, in fact, an immense success for the Bronx Bombers.
Recognizing their shortcomings in July and selling their best — Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller and Carlos Beltran — was an organizational culture change. The Yankees took advantage of high value and low risk and boosted their younger talent pool with players, including Gleyber Torres, Clint Frazier and Dillon Tate, who could make a significant impact as early as next year.
With the sell-off, the club had no choice but to call up some of its top prospects, whether ready or not, to the Big Leagues. And it worked.
Gary Sanchez, Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge headlined a group of double-digit prospects that suited up in Pinstripes for a Major League game in the final two months of the season.
With the youth movement and a newfound energy amongst the veteran core, the club nearly shocked the world with an improbable run to the postseason after selling at the deadline.
A 2-9 stretch over 11 games in mid-September doomed those hopes, but the final 60 games of the season saw this group in action everyday.
Sanchez leads all discussions during this period, slashing .299/.376/.657 and blasting 20 home runs with 42 RBI in just 53 games. It’s difficult to play yourself into Rookie of the Year consideration while playing less than half a season, but that’s exactly what happened for the two-time Futures Game selection.
While averages did not amaze, Austin and Judge combined for 9 homers and 22 RBIs, despite Judge missing the final 18 games.
Younger relievers, including Blake Parker and Richard Bleier, also earned valuable experience in what became meaningful games down the stretch.
But the 2016 season cannot be remembered without acknowledging the abrupt departure of Alex Rodriguez and retirement of Mark Teixeira. Say what you may about two of the game’s older players, but true Yankee fans should remember the duo’s career contributions to the Pinstripes, especially in the 2009 World Series.
Questions will remain. Were the greats forced out? Did big money start to mean less to the Yankees? Would the future be so bright if the Yankees didn’t make such drastic changes mid-season?
These are difficult questions, but the answers may become more clear as we move into the offseason.
Before you know it, the Yankees will be back out on the field, taking on the Rays on April 2, 2017.
The future is young and bright for the Pinstripe bunch — so bright that it might lead the franchise to 30 world championships.