2016 Yankees were a franchise in transition

The 2016 New York Yankees had their fair share of up and downs. Fresh off a Wild Card loss in 2015, the team filled a major hole in trading for second baseman Starlin Castro. They also added closer Aroldis Chapman to their already stacked back of the bullpen with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances. Keeping the core that placed second in runs scored the year before, the Yankees looked to compete for a playoff spot once again.

Despite somewhat high hopes, the Yankees didn’t look good early on. Finishing with an 8-14 record to conclude April, it was clear that the team had it problems. The starting pitching, which was a question going into the season, was beginning to give people doubt. Besides Masahiro Tanaka everyone desperately struggled. In the first month the pitching combined for an ERA of 4.26 and an opponents batting average of .283. Not only that, but the offense was subpar as well. The team that finished second in runs scored, was dead last in that category with only 74.

Things continued to be mediocre for the Yankees, as the team came into All Star weekend with a 44-44 record, just a measly fourth place in the AL East division. Being 7.5 games back, the team’s front office decided to be sellers, a thing they haven’t done in over 20 years. Having useful assets like power hitting outfielder Carlos Beltran, as well as a great bullpen, they certainly had some great offers. In the end Beltran, Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, as well as Ivan Nova were shipped away for a total of 13 prospects. In the course of a few weeks, the team went from having a top 15 farm system to having arguably the best in the league.

As a result of those deals, the major league roster looked different. Most notably the team brought up catching prospect Gary Sanchez. Who knew that the 23-year-old would end up being their best offensive player on roster. Making his season debut on August 3rd, Sanchez in just 53 games hit 20 home runs, being the fastest to this mark in major league history. Not only that, but he finished the year with 42 RBIs and a .299 batting average. With potential trade talks involving Brian McCann, Sanchez is the clear favorite to be the starting catcher next season and hopefully many seasons to come.

Despite getting rid of some of their best players, the team played some of their best baseball. Expected to be bottom feeders, the Yankees became the hottest team in baseball and ended up becoming playoff contenders. It was even to the point where the Yankees were as close as a game out of a Wild Card spot. However, mid-September struggles got to them, as after going on a seven game win streak, the team only won one out of their next eight, dropping them to 5 games back. All in all, it took until game 159 for the Yankees to be eliminated from postseason contention.

What we saw, as fans, from the New York Yankees this season was two different teams. We went from a team with a bunch of veterans trying to get a last shot at a title to an exciting young team that almost defied all odds. We’ve gone from having No Run DMC, to just having Dellin Betances, but we still ended up with a better win percentage in the second half (.540). It was a great transition year for the team, as we saw a glimpse of what our future is like with Gary Sanchez. The future should look brighter from here with our newly rebuilt farm system with players such as Gleyber Torres, Clint Frazier, and Justus Sheffield. Saying goodbye to Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira was tough, but this is just the beginning to a new era of Yankees baseball.
The weekly New York Yankees report by David Bieber for FingerLakes1.com
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