What else can baseball fans do in January but dream of October? In You May Say I’m a Dreamer, the Outside Corner staff will imagine the route to a World Series in 2012 title for all 30 teams.
How hard is it to dream about a great 2012 for the Yankees? In reality, how hard is it for them to dream about having a great season at all, really? I mean, we’re talking about the most successful franchise in Major League history here! They’ve won 27 World Series. They’ve won 40 American League pennants. FORTY. But hey, even those who are at the top of the mountain can reach for the stars, right?
The Yankees have not won a World Series since 2009, but that hasn’t stopped them from making bold moves to try and put above average or superstar players across the diamond. And in 2012, they decided to focus on their pitching to try and get them back to the promised land, with so many people talking about the Michael Pineda/Jesus Montero trade as one of the boldest moves in the tenure of general manager Brian Cashman. But it wasn’t that move that put them over the top. It was, instead, the trading away of AJ Burnett to the Pittsburgh Pirates that took a huge elephant out of the room in the Yanks rotation, allowing the team to not have to worry about Burnett’s antics every fifth day.
What was funny about the regular season was that even with the Rays bringing back essentially the same team, the Red Sox tweaking a few things here and there and the emergence of the Blue Jays as serious contender, the Yankees easily found their way at the top of the American League East, winning 101 games and grabbing homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. They did it once again on the strength of C.C. Sabbathia at the helm of their rotation, throwing out an astounding 8 WAR season and not showing any signs of slowing down.
Pineda had himself a fine season as a 3 WAR pitcher, getting a little bit homer happy, but turning into a solid member of a suddenly younger rotation that saw top prospect Manny Banuelos step up near the end of the season to provide a second left-hander when Freddy Garcia started wearing down again. Put those three in with solid seasons from Ivan Nova and a semi-return to from from Phil Hughes and all of a sudden, the Yankees had a *gasp* good Major League Baseball rotation.
Perhaps the best thing the Yankees got all year was A-Rod having his best year as a Yankee since 2007, hitting .302/.397/.589 while playing another stellar year of Gold Glove-caliber defense at third base. He also had his best season off the field as well, stopping his attempts to stare in the mirror just in time to see Minka Kelly come to him on the rebound from the slumping Derek Jeter (She did it in “Friday Night Lights” so are you really surprised she didn’t trade up in real life?) Of course, the Yankees who are enjoying their peaks continued to do well. Robinson Cano put up a 30/30 season, Brett Gardner popped 15 homers while still being the defensive left fielder in baseball and Mark Texeira continued to just crush pitches from both sides of the plate.
The playoffs turned out to be an intersting fare, especially considering both Detroit and Los Angeles of Anaheim of California of Orange County improved their ranks considerably with their huge power additions the previous offseason. But the Yankees were able to outslug Los Angeles in the ALDS before having a showdown with the Texas Rangers in the ALCS. Seven games later and about 75 runs later, the Yankees were able to outslug a Rangers team looking to make their third World Series in a row, blasting their way into a World Series showdown with the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Brewers had a great pitching rotation all year long, but just couldn’t swing with the pinstripers, and after an unlikely MVP performance from Russell Martin, who slugged two homers and hit .425, the Yankees ended up taking home World Series number 28 after C.C. Sabbathia pitched Games 1, 4 and 7 and Mariano Rivera (surprise, surprise) got the final out. After the game was over, Rivera asked for the house microphone and announced to the hometown crowd that after winning yet another World Series and ending it with him making the final out, he couldn’t think of a better way to go out on, retiring on the spot to an unbelievable ovation in the best setting possible, ending his career as the best relief pitcher in the history of Major League Baseball.
Even as a Yankee fan, not sure there’s a better dream than that to go out on, even if it means saying goodbye to #42.