2017 New York Yankees
2017 New York Yankees / Franchise: New York Yankees / BR Team Page
Clinched Wild Card: September 30, 2017, vs. Toronto Blue Jays
Managed by Joe Girardi
History, Comments, Contributions
The 2017 New York Yankees were continuing the youth kick started in the second half of the 2016 season, a move prompted by the retirement of 1B Mark Teixeira and DH Alex Rodriguez that season, and the trades of RF Carlos Beltran and C Brian McCann. In their place were 1B Greg Bird, back from missing a year to injury, RF Aaron Judge, and C Gary Sanchez, fresh off a tremendous last two months. Joining them were free agents DH Matt Holliday and DH/1B Chris Carter, and closer Aroldis Chapman, back from a short stint with the Chicago Cubs which had netted him a Championship ring.
The Yankees ran into some early injury problems, with SS Didi Gregorius, one of their most productive hitters the previous season, being hurt while playing for the Dutch national team during the 2017 World Baseball Classic and C Sanchez going on the disabled list a few days into the season. The Yankees lost to the Tampa Bay Rays, 7-3, on opening day, April 2nd after an uncharacteristically poor start by ace Masahiro Tanaka and were soon 1-4, but got hot all of a sudden after that, even though Sanchez went down with an injury after only a couple of games. They reeled off 8 straight wins, the most for the team since 2012, as Judge started the year red hot, and some of the other big boppers on the team all contributed key long balls. One of the surprise stars was rookie starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery who had impressed enough in spring training to earn an early call-up and pitched very well in his first two starts, the second of which on April 17th netted the Bronx Bombers - nicknamed the "Baby Bombers" by some observers - their eighth straight victory. The biggest young star was Judge, however, as he was named the AL's Rookie of the Month for April, when he hit .303 with 10 homers and 20 RBIs.
The Yankees finished April tied with the Baltimore Orioles atop the AL East standings at 15-8, and continued to play well in early May as Gregorius and Sanchez both returned from their injuries. Following a 10-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds on May 8th, they had the best record in the majors at 21-9 while Tanaka was on a streak of five consecutive winning starts to lead the pitching staff. They then hit a small bump as they lost four of their next five games, including three of four at home against the Houston Astros as they took over the mantle of the best record in the majors, but remained in first place nonetheless. They were still in first place at the end of May, however. On June 3rd, they hit four homers in an inning in a 7-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. All four long balls in the 8th came against Jason Grilli, and three of them were consecutive, by Holliday, Starlin Castro and Gregorius; Brett Gardner had begun the fireworks with a lead-off blast in the frame. On June 9-11th, they swept the Orioles at home by a composite score of 38-8, to increase their lead to 4 games. In the finale, Judge went 4-for-4 and blasted two more homers, one of them a 495-foot monster that was the longest hit in the majors so far this season. He was now leading the American League in all three triple crown categories with 21 homers, 47 RBIs and a .344 average.
The Yankees hit their next rough patch in mid-June when they lost six consecutive games on a west coast swing, losing three of four to the Los Angeles Angels and being swept by the Oakland Athletics. The stretch coincided with two more key blows on the injury front, as veteran SP CC Sabathia, who had been pitching like an ace of late, went on the disabled list for an extended stay with a serious hamstring injury. At the minor league level, top prospect Gleyber Torres, who was rumored to be close to being called up to take over at third base for the Yanks, injured his elbow in a AAA game on June 18th and was lost for the year. As a result of the losing streak, they were caught by the Boston Red Sox atop the division standings on June 18th. For his part, Tanaka was struggling badly, having lost 6 of 7 starts since May 14th. When the Yankees lost again to the Angels in their first game back home on June 20th, it was their longest losing streak since 2007. At the end of June, the Yankees suffered a rash of injuries that resulted in three position players making their debut in the span of a week - Tyler Wade, Miguel Andujar and Dustin Fowler. In Fowler's case, his debut came as a result of an injury to Tyler Austin, who was himself an injury replacement for Matt Holliday. In Moonlight Graham fashion, however, Fowler's debut on June 30th lasted less than an inning, as he crashed into a fence at U.S. Cellular Field in his first big league inning, suffering a season-ending knee injury on the play before even having had a chance to bat.
At the All-Star break, the Yankees were still in second place, 3 1/2 games back of Boston and just ahead of Tampa Bay, their lead having been decimated by going 5-10 in their last 15 games before the pause. They reacted by giving 1B Chris Carter his release, as he was hitting barely above the Mendoza line with a ton of strikeouts. Taking his place for the moment would be Korean journeyman Ji-Man Choi, with Bird and Austin still sidelined by injuries. Now precariously thin at the position, the Yankees traded reliever Tyler Webb to the Milwaukee Brewers in return for AAA 1B Garrett Cooper, who was immediately called up to New York. The second half started badly, as on July 14th, they had to place P Michael Pineda on the disabled list, lost for the rest of the season to an elbow injury, then they lost that evening's game to the Red Sox, 5-4, when Aroldis Chapman blew a 9th inning lead, allowing two runs without retiring a batter. On July 18th, the Yankees pulled off a big trade, sending RP Tyler Clippard, whjo had struggled of late, and three prospects to the Chicago White Sox in return for three major league players: 3B Todd Frazier and RPs Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson. Frazier took over for Chase Headley, who slipped over to 1B to address the team's curent biggest hole. They made two more trades before the deadline, acquiring SPs Jaime Garcia from the Minnesota Twins and Sonny Gray from the Athletics, giving up a total of five prospects - including the injured Dustin Fowler - in return. During that time, Judge was going through his first slump of the season, including a record stretch of 38 straight games with a strikeout in late July and early August. The Yankees only went 14-15 in August, falling to 5 1/2 games back of Boston after another loss on September 1st.
The Yankees played some of their best baseball of the season in September, with players like Judge, Sanchez, Sabathia and Severino carrying them, and they won 10 of 12 games starting on September 9th. That was enough to practically guarantee that they would host the Wild Card Game for the second time in three years, but they had only managed to gain a game and a half on the Red Sox in spite of all those wins, because their rivals were also playing lights out down the stretch. While they were unable to made much headway in catching the Red Sox, they did clinch a postseason slot on September 23rd, a significant accomplishment for hat was expected to be a rebuilding year.
Awards and Honors
- All-Stars: Dellin Betances, Starlin Castro, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Luis Severino
- AL Rookie of the Year Award: Aaron Judge
- AL Silver Slugger Award: Aaron Judge (OF) and Gary Sanchez (C)
- 2017 Topps All-Star Rookie Team: Aaron Judge (OF) and Jordan Montgomery (LhP)
- Associated Press: "Yankees get AL wild card; Judge hits 52nd HR, top Jays 2-1", ESPN.com, October 1, 2017
- Ted Berg: "The Yankees have the best record in baseball and will probably make the postseason", "For the Win!", USA Today Sports, May 11, 2017. 
- Ted Berg: "How the New York Yankees can win the World Series", "For the Win!", USA Today Sports, October 4, 2017. 
- Pete Caldera: "Amid sprays of champagne, the Yankees celebrate their postseason clincher", USA Today Sports, September 23, 2017. 
- Jim Callis: "How Yanks went from rebuilding to contending in 1 year", mlb.com, August 11, 2017. 
- Mark Feinsand: "Yanks a trending team as owners meet: Steinbrenner praises Judge; Sternberg talks ballpark progress", mlb.com, May 17, 2017. 
- Mark Feinsand: "Future bright for Yanks despite ALCS defeat: Cashman: New York 'will be one of the hunted, not one of the hunters'", mlb.com October 22, 2017. 
- Bryan Hoch: "Cashman eager to see position battles play out: Yankees have many young players vying for starting spots in 2017", mlb.com, February 16, 2017. 
- Bryan Hoch: "Yanks not hanging heads after memorable run: Club proud of what it accomplished, cites home-field advantage as big factor", mlb.com, October 22, 2017. 
- Bryan Hoch: The Baby Bombers: The Inside Story of the Next Yankees Dynasty, Diversion Books, New York, NY, 2018. ISBN 978-1635764192
- Bob Klapisch: "It's time to take the Yankees seriously", USA Today Sports, May 5, 2017. 
- Bob Klapisch: "Yankees season comes to bitter end", October 22, 2017. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Yankees are back to being the Evil Empire, and the Red Sox feel the pain", USA Today Sports, July 19, 2017.