Yankees 2022 season: The best, the worst, and the lost

Aaron Judge celebrating with his Yankees teammates after a walk off home run against the Blue Jays
Michael Bennington
Saturday December 31, 2022

Table of Contents

Even though the 2022 Yankees season ended in a way that was all too familiar, it was full of drama, glorious moments, lows, and a lot more. Most of the hard work for 2023 has already been done, but before the new year starts, it’s time to look back on 2022 again and use it as a springboard for what’s to come next season.

The Yankees’ game of the year

Between April end and the middle of May, the Yankees went 20-3. However, their win against Toronto at Yankee Stadium on May 10 was something fans can’t forget. Three Blue Jays were thrown out of the game and the Yankees were down 3-0 when Giancarlo Stanton hit a three-run homer in the sixth inning to tie the game. But Toronto edged past by two runs in the eighth inning. Then came Aaron Judge and he had the last word with his first walk-off home run. The Yankees scripted a 6-5 win.

Aaron Judge’s first walk-off home run shocked the Blue Jays and helped the Yankees become the clear favorite in the AL East.

The worst slump

The Yankees’ had their worst slump in 31 years in August and early September. A 9-0 loss to Toronto on September 2 at Tropicana Field, which manager Aaron Boone called “embarrassing,” was the high point of that ignominious slump. Even though their lineup was mostly healthy, they only managed to get five hits, left 10 runners on base, and made three mistakes. Boone said he hoped it was the end of the line when their lead in the AL East went down to five games, which was the lowest it had been since June 1.

The rise of a star

Aaron Judge became the 2022 AL MVP. But it was Nestor Cortes, who proved to be the biggest breakout for the team in 2022. Before spring training, people were wondering if the lefty’s good finish to 2021 was just a fluke. He answered those questions by taking his game to a whole other level. He was an All-Star and had a 2.44 ERA, which made him even more of a fan and team favorite. And a legend of Nasty Nestor was born.

The headache for the Yankees

Joey Gallo, Aaron Hicks, and Aroldis Chapman brought tough moments for the Yankees. Gallo and Montas only spent part of the season in The Bronx and the former had to leave. Chapman, who has a 4.46 ERA, went on the injured list because he got an infection from a new tattoo and then quit the team when it became clear that he might not be on the postseason roster. Hicks was benched and booed for his performance. He also “cried” over the lack of playing time.

The Yankees’ unexpected hero

Three days before the end of spring training, the Yankees got Jose Trevino from the Rangers for Albert Abreu and a minor leaguer named Robby Ahlstrom. Ben Rortvedt, the Yankees’ backup catcher, was still hurt. Trevino became an All-Star, a mainstay behind the plate, and the Yankees got Abreu back through waivers later in the season.

The questionable trade became the most promising

The Yankees gave up Jordan Montgomery to land an injured Harrison Bader and it drew lots of criticism. When Bader joined the Yankees, he had to wear a walking boot, but when Montgomery joined the Cardinals, he was suddenly untouchable on the mound. But once Bader got healthy, he was one of the Yankees’ best players in the playoffs, and he now looks like a key piece for the Yankees in center field in 2023. After getting Carlos Rodon in the offseason, Montgomery would have been at best the Yankees’ fifth starter.

The decision of the year

Aaron Judge took a chance on himself and turned down a seven-year, $213.5 million contract extension offer before the season started. But he went on to hit 62 home runs and became the most valuable player. The power hitter literally pushed the team to bestow on him a nine-year, $360 million contract.

The decision that resulted in the ALCS loss

Aaron Boone taking Gerrit Cole out early in Game 3 of the ALCS turned the tide against the Yankees. In the sixth inning, with no outs and Cole at 96 pitches, the Astros loaded the bases with no outs. The manager replaced him with Lou Trivino, who allowed three runs and the Yankees lost the game.

The healthiest competition

Anthony Volpe is lurking for an MLB cap. Oswald Peraza is already making news. Both have thrown a challenge to error-prone Isiah Kiner-Falefa for the shortstop job in spring training. Volpe is expected to have the most potential, and the Yankees haven’t traded him because they think he’s a special player.  How Oswald Peraza and Isiah Kiner-Falefa end up will depend a lot on how far Anthony Volpe gets toward taking over at shortstop for the Yankees.

The unhealthy setback

Injuries pushed the Yankees to a corner. It starved them of both balls and runs. The second half of last season when LeMahieu’s broken toe made it hard for him to hit. The two-time batting champion hit .292 with 11 home runs and 42 RBI in his first 105 games, but from August 3 on, he hit .167 with one home run and four RBI in 30 games while hurting.

The top secret weapon

Matt Krook, a left-handed pitcher, has already been picked out by Boone, Matt Blake, and Brian Cashman as an interesting arm who could help out of the bullpen a year after Ron Marinaccio did that job. So we’ll go with Jimmy Cordero, who in his first year back from Tommy John surgery had a 2.09 ERA in 38 2/3 innings with Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre last season. In November, the right-handed reliever who throws hard was added to the 40-man roster.

When Oswaldo Cabrera and Estevan Florial were brought up to the big leagues in the middle of August, the Yankees were in desperate need of a spark. Cabrera gave them the boost they needed with his bat and his ability to move around the field, showing that he will be a good utility player for next season.

The left-field job would probably go to Oswaldo Cabrera, who is more flexible to play in any position, and Aaron Hicks, who had a terrible offensive and defensive season last year. Estevan Florial did well in Triple-A last year, but he hasn’t been very good in the majors, so it’s not clear if he can help the Yankees out in left field.

Florial, who is now 25 years old, is one of the only other options on the 40-man roster. Last year in Triple-A, he seemed to get it all together and stay healthy. He hit .283, stole 39 bases, and had an OPS of .850. But when he was called up in August, he found it hard to keep up the good work and take advantage of the chance.

Even though Florial has been called up a few times, he has not been given much of a chance to play. In the 29 games he has played in the big leagues over the last three years, he has hit only .185 with an OPS of .579. Now, he has no more options in the minor leagues. The Yankees might leave the door open for him again this spring, but if he doesn’t finally push through, he might be moving on.

The offseason roster changes can be hard on players who are on the edge of the 26-man and 40-man rosters. In the same way, the Yankees had to get rid of Lucas Luetge last week so they could make room for Tommy Kahnle, who they signed as a free agent. Luetge’s two seasons with the Yankees were his first in the major leagues since 2015. This was a win for the Yankees in terms of scouting and a win for the 34-year-old left-handed pitcher.

What do you think about the Yankees’ decision to part away with Luetge? Leave your comment below.

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