Happy New Year’s Eve! It’s the end of a decade, and many people have been celebrating by writing up lists of the best things that happened this past decade: best players, best seasons, all-decade team, etc. But I wanted to try something different. So how about the worst seasons by Yankees players this decade?
I’ll keep it simple and go by WAR. But because WAR for position players and pitchers aren’t exactly comparable, I will do the five worst seasons for each separately. Since WAR is a counting stat, I did not use any qualifying restrictions.
5. 2014 Alfonso Soriano
-0.9 WAR; 66 wRC+; .265 wOBA; 67 games played
Soriano was a Yankee from 1998-2003 before being traded for Alex Rodriguez before the 2004 season. He returned near the trade deadline in 2013 with the team desperately needing offense, and he provided just that. He hit 17 HR with 49 RBI in just 57 games with a 137 wRC+. The next year was not so kind, as he struggled in the same amount of plate appearances with the team and was eventually designated for assignment on July 6 and released the next week. It would mark the end of his career.
4. 2016 Mark Teixiera
-1.0 WAR; 76 wRC+; .287 wOBA; 116 games played
Another Yankee in the final season of his career. While Tex went out with a bang with a walk-off grand slam against the Red Sox, his year as a whole was not so great. His strikeout rate was at 24 percent, by far the highest of his career (barring 2013 when he only played in 15 games). His power was also way down with a career-low .158 ISO. So good thing he was able to finish off his career well because the rest of his season wasn’t so pretty.
3. 2019 Miguel Andujar
-1.0 WAR; -36 wRC+; .121 wOBA; 12 games played
Yes, this is the Miguel Andujar who only appeared in 12 games last year. But he was very bad in those 12 games. Keep in mind, a league-average wRC+ is 100, and 60 is considered awful. Andujar was at -36. He managed to accumulate a -1.0 WAR in just 49 plate appearances. In those plate appearances, he had just six hits, all singles. This was after he tied an American League rookie record with 47 doubles in 2018. And his fielding was remained below average.
2. 2014 Stephen Drew
-1.0 WAR; 34 wRC+; .220 wOBA; 46 games played
Ah, the infamous Stephen Drew. He was acquired in the last trade between the Yankees and the Red Sox back in 2014 when Kelly Johnson was shipped up to Boston. During that season, Drew hit a measly .176 in 39 games for the Red Sox. He didn’t perform much better in New York: he hit an even worse .150 in 46 games. Yet for some reason, he was re-signed to a one-year, $5 million contract. Relatively, he did much better in 2015 — he hit .201.
1. 2016 Alex Rodriguez
-1.1 WAR; 56 wRC+; .258 wOBA; 65 games played
I think you can sense a theme. A-Rod played the final game of his career on August 12, 2016. During that season, he only played in 65 games accumulating 243 plate appearances. But in his final hurrah, he was well below average. He struck out at a 27.6 percent clip, way above the league average of 21 percent. He was mainly relegated to DH, only playing a third of an inning in the field (the last out played of his career). If you take the steroids out of the equation, A-Rod is easily a Hall of Famer. Unfortunately, he did not go out in style.
5. 2016 Ben Heller
-0.4 WAR; 6.43 ERA; 9.58 FIP; 7.0 IP
Yes, I suppose it is a little unfair to include someone who only pitched 7.0 innings. But in those innings he gave up 11 hits including three home runs; he also walked four. He’s done much better in limited action in 2017 and 2019, but his debut was not great.
4. 2014 Ivan Nova
-0.4 WAR; 8.27 ERA; 6.91 FIP; 20.2 IP
Ivan Nova had a thing where he would be very good in odd-numbered years and very bad in even-numbered years. It’s a little bit hard to wrap my head around the fact that he is still only 32 years old, and was only 25 in 2014. He was removed from an April start with an elbow injury and needed Tommy John surgery, but the four starts he made before this injury were awful. He allowed 19 earned runs in just 20.2 innings pitched.
In 2013, Joba appeared in 45 games, all in relief. His BB/9 was way up at 5.57, by far the highest of his career. The same goes for his WHIP, which stood at 1.74. And like many on this list, this was Joba’s last year with the Yankees.
2. 2010 Chad Gaudin
-0.7 WAR; 4.50 ERA; 6.25 FIP; 48.0 IP
Yankees legend: Chad Gaudin. He was very useful when the team acquired him from the Padres in 2009, making six spot stars and five relief appearances to the tune of a 3.43 ERA.He was released at the end of March 2010 but came back just a couple of months later. Unfortunately, he did not perform as well as he had the prior season. He appeared in 30 games and while none of his numbers stand out as terrible, he was mediocre across the board.
1. 2011 Scott Proctor
-0.7 WAR; 9.00 ERA; 11.39 FIP; 11.0 IP
To be honest, I forgot Scott Proctor returned to the Yankees in 2011. He was with the team for exactly four years from the trade deadline in 2003 to the trade deadline in 2007. But he came back on a minor-league deal in August 2011. And his most memorable moment from this season was not a positive one: he was the one who gave up the walk-off home run to Evan Longoria in Game 162. In all fairness, that loss didn’t mean much to the Yankees, and it helped create the craziest day in recent baseball history. But yeah, Proctor was not good at all. He allowed six home runs in 11 innings and walked 9.8 batters per nine innings.
And there you have it! Apologies for ending the decade on a more negative note, but hopefully nobody has seasons as bad as those above in 2020 and we see some action in the Canyon of Heroes.