Last Updated on November 21, 2023 at 4:11 am by Sara Molnick
Ex-Yankees reliever Zack Britton, with a career spanning 12 seasons and 154 saves, has announced his retirement from baseball, as disclosed in a story published by The Athletic on Monday. However, his retirement made more news following his comments about his former team.
The southpaw, as he bids farewell to baseball, conveyed a message to the New York Yankees, the team where he concluded his career. The advice aimed to guide the Yankees in rediscovering their winning form after finishing the season at 82-80, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2016, and not securing a World Series title since 2009.
Britton’s stern message to the Yankees
Zack Britton reflected on the Yankees, stating that there was once an intimidation factor when facing them due to their abundant talent. He mentioned that the way they carried themselves made players hesitant to go to New York because of their imposing presence. The ex-New York arm felt that the Yankees had lost some of that quality during his time there.
Britton then raised the question of how to regain that intimidating aura, suggesting that, in his opinion, with the Yankees’ budget, they should aim to acquire the best players. While acknowledging that the team has done so to some extent, he emphasized the importance of building powerhouses to create a desirable playing environment. Britton recalled hearing people say, ‘Oh, I don’t want to go to New York,’ and he found it surprising.
“How do you get back to that? For me, with the Yankees’ budget, they should get the best players. They have, to some extent, but really building powerhouses to make it a place people want to play. I remember hearing people say, ‘Oh, I don’t want to go to New York,’ and it blew my mind.”
An eye opener for the Yankees
Britton expressed that the most eye-opening aspect for him was hearing opposing players say, “It’s not the same coming in there; it’s not as intimidating as a place.” He reflected on his early days as a player, noting that playing for the Yankees was considered the pinnacle because of their exceptional performance. Although he admitted not knowing the specific solution to restore the team’s intimidating presence, he highlighted that the older Yankees teams excelled in various aspects, beating opponents in multiple ways and being well-rounded. Instead of focusing solely on keeping the game within the ballpark, those teams could win through singles, stolen bases, walks, and other strategies. Britton suggested that finding a way to return to that multifaceted approach is crucial for the Yankees’ success.
Selected in the third round of the 2006 draft by the Orioles, Britton dedicated the initial seven-plus seasons of his career to the team, evolving into a formidable presence in the late innings. In July 2018, the Yankees secured his services in exchange for three pitching prospects. While the initial season and a half with the Yankees proved successful, subsequent injuries took a toll on Britton, affecting both his playing time and performance.
|Pitching career with New York Yankees|
Britton reflected on his last outing, stating, “My last outing was against the Orioles. I threw a ball to the backstop as my last pitch; I think about that and it sucks.” He acknowledged that it might not have been a perfect way to end his career from a career standpoint or on a high note, but he emphasized that one doesn’t always have the luxury of choosing the circumstances. Britton mentioned that his gut feeling was telling him it was time to explore what life was like on the other side.
Britton spent his initial three seasons as a starting pitcher before making a full-time transition to the bullpen in 2014. In this role, at the age of 26, he achieved a remarkable 1.65 ERA and garnered 37 saves. During his tenure with the Orioles, he accumulated a 3.22 ERA and 139 saves across 516 2/3 innings. Upon joining the Yankees, he secured 21 saves with a 2.75 ERA, albeit pitching only 43 1/3 innings, including postseason play, from 2020 to 2022.
|Postseason Pitching with New York Yankees|
From his first save in the 2014 season to his final pitch in 2022, Britton’s tally of 154 saves ranked him 10th among all major league players.
Despite receiving offers from multiple teams last spring to prolong his career, Britton, as reported by The Athletic, found that his heart wasn’t fully invested in continuing at that time.
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