The 2020 season has come and gone. We’re awaiting the conclusion of award season and we’ve all had time to digest what occurred the last seven months. Now we can breakdown the Yankees’ season into the classic “good, bad, and ugly” segment.
With the Yankees being a favorite to win their first World Series since 2009, an early exit at the hands of the rival Rays was cause for another disappointing season. So even though the whole season can be considered bad or ugly because the team ultimately fell short of the final goal, we’ll take a look at what good came from the season as well. The bad and the ugly will follow in future posts.
Cole was the Yankees’ main target going into 2020, and after two failed attempts earlier in his career, they finally got their man. For $324 million the Yankees got the Ace they desperately needed. Cole didn’t pitch like his dominant self the whole season, but after a bumpy August, he pitched to a pristine 1.00 ERA over his last four starts of the season. Wins are starting to be relied upon less as an indicator of a good pitcher, but Cole’s 7-3 record in 12 starts came in above his career .647 W-L%. The fact that he was the pitcher of record in 10 of 12 starts is what’s big for me, as fewer pitchers go deep enough to always record a win or loss. Most importantly, Cole won two playoff starts and left Game 5 of the ALDS tied 1-1.
We all knew Voit had mammoth power from his first year and a half with the Yankees, but something seemed to be holding him back during that time. The Yankees trying to play Greg Bird and then an injury and splitting games with Mike Ford were the main culprits. Voit really broke out in the shortened 2020 season, however. Now he may not be a legitimate MVP contender, he solidified his place as the Yankees’ first baseman. Along the way, he led the league with 22 home runs in just 56 games and put himself in talks as one of only a handful of above-average first basemen in the league. Even though Voit’s walks dropped this season, and he strikes out at a fairly high rate, he was still able to post a healthy .277/.338/.610 triple-slash line this season.
Behind Voit and MVP finalist DJ LeMahieu, Frazier was the Yankees’ most productive hitter this season and he only played in 39 of 60 games. But I think everyone on the Yankees and their fans knew Frazier could hit, it was his play in the outfield that should finally cement him in the everyday lineup for years to come. Frazier was a Gold Glove finalist in RF and finished with better defensive metrics than the beloved lifetime Yankee Brett Gardner. Frazier was also one of the most patient hitters as well. His .394 OBP was second only to LeMahieu and he had a 15.6% BB%, numbers approaching Gardner and Giancarlo Stanton territory. For someone who hits the ball as hard as Frazier, his .338 Batting Average on Balls in Play isn’t unattainable most seasons, so his .267/.394/.511 line looks like a base for the future.
The future of the rotation
The Yankees 2020 rotation wasn’t pretty despite the addition of Cole, but the future looks promising for the Bronx Bombers. Jordan Montgomery came back healthy, and even though he pitched poorly most of the season, he started 10 games to help him get back into pre-Tommy John surgery form for 2021.
Deivi Garcia held his own in his first taste of the big leagues and had fans excited throughout five of his six starts. Clarke Schmidt only pitched in three games, but going back to February, every time Schmidt was on the mound and David Cone was announcing for the YES Network he couldn’t stop gushing over his stuff. Domingo German served his suspension, contemplated retirement but ultimately decided to continue his career.
Michael King and Nick Nelson probably aren’t good enough to be starters long-term, but they provide depth. And Jonathan Loaisiga is an arm I’m still excited to see more of. Add that to Cole and a healthy Luis Severino for 2021 and it’s easy to see the promise of the future.
Injuries and bad play will sort things out, but the Yankees’ rotation could be jam-packed with Cole, Severino, Garcia, German, Schmidt, Montgomery, Loaisiga, and possibly the retention of Masahiro Tanaka or James Paxton or the addition of someone like Trevor Bauer.