Yankees 2023: Unforgettable moments, decisions, and players to remember

Aaron Judge and Oswald Peraza celebrates after the Yankees beat the Astros in Houston on Sept 3, 2023.

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The Yankees faced considerable challenges in 2023, aiming to rebound from a disappointing season, and their recent offseason endeavors were directed at turning things around. Here is a look at some superlatives from the Yankees’ 2023 season.

Yankees’ turning point

Yankees captain Aaron Judge busted the bullpen door at Dodger Stadium while making a spectacular catch on June 3, 2023.

On June 3, everything seemed uncomplicated, at least until the seventh-and-a-half inning during a Saturday night game at Dodger Stadium. The Yankees ultimately secured a 6-3 victory, marked by Aaron Judge‘s home run and a remarkable catch as he collided with the right-field wall. Judge downplayed the impact, stating that “the fence got the most of it.” However, it later emerged that the catch had consequences, with Judge suffering a ligament tear in his right toe, leading to an absence of almost two months. Despite the unforeseen setback, at that point, with a record of 35-25, the Yankees had won the series the following night, giving the impression of heading in a positive direction.

The deep dive to abyss

In August, the road trip that effectively sealed the fate of the Yankees’ season took them from Chicago to Miami and then to Atlanta. Upon returning home, they experienced a sweep by the Red Sox, followed by another loss to the Nationals, extending their losing streak to nine games. Within this challenging stretch, they endured a particularly disheartening defeat against the Marlins, allowing a five-run bottom of the ninth in a pivotal game. Subsequently, they faced back-to-back shutouts against the Braves, mustering only five hits in total. The slump culminated in a two-hit loss to the Nationals, prompting Brian Cashman to characterize their season as a “disaster.”


The sparkle that won over Yankees fans

 In Houston, the initial three days of September provided a welcomed break and optimism for the Yankees. Jasson Dominguez showcased his potential by hitting home runs off Justin Verlander in his inaugural MLB plate appearance and repeating the feat in the series finale, albeit shortly before discovering his UCL tear. Additionally, Austin Wells received commendations from the pitching staff for his performance behind the plate in his first MLB series, contributing to the Yankees sweeping the Astros.

Corey Sipkin

The man with a resolution

Gerrit Cole, the recipient of the AL Cy Young Award, appeared notably more at ease as early as spring training, and this newfound comfort was evident in his performance on the mound. The mammoth nine-year, $324 million contract he inked before the 2020 season now appears to be a rather favorable deal.

Yankees pitcher Carlos Rodon reacts after his disastrous performance against the Royals in Kansas City on Sept. 29, 2023.

The shattered dream

In the initial year of his six-year, $162 million deal, Carlos Rodon‘s performance was nothing short of disastrous. The season was marred by injuries that began in spring training, keeping him sidelined until July. His 6.85 ERA further compounded his struggles, culminating in a calamitous final outing where he reportedly turned away from pitching coach Matt Blake. Despite this challenging season, Rodon is expected to have an opportunity for redemption, and the Yankees are relying on him to bounce back.

The massive buildup

Everything Yanks 27

When considering the entire calendar year, the standout move undoubtedly was acquiring Juan Soto earlier this month, even though it required parting ways with Michael King (and others) in the deal. However, focusing on the 2023 season itself, a relatively unnoticed minor league signing on Jan. 27 takes the spotlight: Ian Hamilton. This reliever impressed during spring training, earning a spot in the bullpen and evolving into a reliable arm for Aaron Boone. As the team looks ahead to the upcoming season, Hamilton has become a key figure in the bullpen.

The decision of the year

One notable decision was the move to transition Michael King into a starting role during the last two months of the season. While this shift was somewhat prompted by injuries, King had suggested the idea on previous occasions, and the Yankees waited until August to implement it. King convincingly demonstrated his capabilities as a legitimate starter, ultimately becoming a crucial component in the Juan Soto trade. There’s anticipation that King might elevate his game further as a regular starter in San Diego.

Yankees' Josh Donaldson ducks away from a pitch by Orioles' Jordan Lyles on May 18, 2022, in Baltimore.

The misguided faith

Putting faith in the idea that Josh Donaldson could bounce back in the 2023 season was a regrettable decision. Despite the veteran third baseman’s challenging 2022 season, manager Boone expressed optimism during spring training, stating, “You’re crazy to think that a bounce back is not in there offensively.” Unfortunately, Donaldson struggled, accumulating 32 strikeouts, managing only 15 hits (with an impressive 10 home runs), and enduring two stints on the injured list in just 33 games before being released in late August.

Gleyber Torres Of the New York Yankees

The suprise

Clarke Schmidt‘s performance in April was typically the kind that might lead a player to be demoted to Triple-A in other seasons. However, due to injuries, the Yankees had limited alternatives and continued to provide Schmidt with regular starts every fifth day. As the summer unfolded, Schmidt managed to improve his form and became a reliable fixture in the rotation. While he concluded the season with a 4.64 ERA (just above the league average of 4.45), the significance lay in his career-high 159 innings pitched, establishing a solid platform for further development in the upcoming season.

Clarke Schmidt. the starter for the New York Yankees starter in 2023.

Best surprise impact: 

The Yankees’ starting pitching depth faced setbacks this month due to trades and the Rule 5 draft. This intensifies the focus on individuals such as Will Warren, Clayton Beeter, and Chase Hampton, who might be summoned to fill in when inevitable injuries affect the rotation throughout the season.

The road trip of the year

The standout moment was the six-game journey from Seattle to Los Angeles in late May and early June. During this stretch, a considerable portion of the Yankees’ roster likely explored the Pike Place Market in Seattle, and Los Angeles offered numerous attractions. Additionally, T-Mobile Park and Dodger Stadium were noted as two exceptional venues. While the Chicago-Miami-Atlanta trip was a close contender, the August heat and the additional stop in Atlanta slightly diminished its appeal.

A costly difference

Anthony Volpe shows exceptional defensive display against the Royals on July 21, 2023, at Yankee Stadium.

This year, 101 players received pre-arbitration performance bonuses as outlined in the new CBA, as reported by the Associated Press.

The bonuses, totaling $50 million, were distributed based on achievements such as Rookie of the Year, MVP, Cy Young, and the top 100 in Wins Above Replacement (determined by a “Pre-Arbitration Committee”).

Despite facing offensive challenges, Volpe, who became a member of the 20/20 club and earned the AL Gold Glove at shortstop, received the smallest bonus among the 101 players at $246,549. According to Baseball-Reference’s WAR, where Defensive Runs Saved contributes to the defensive component, Volpe ranked 72nd overall with 3.3. However, FanGraphs’ WAR, which uses Ultimate Zone Rating for defensive valuation, placed Volpe at 214th among all players with a score of 1.9.

Anthony Volpe secured the smaller portion of MLB’s recently introduced pre-arbitration performance bonuses, indicating a likely alignment with FanGraphs’ method of calculating WAR rather than Baseball-Reference’s.

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