DATA DEPENDENT: The Bronx Bombers’ big three go from heroes to zeroes.

Once upon a time there was a team called the New York Yankees. They were the winningest team in baseball history (and still are) and any year that they didn’t win the World Series was pretty much considered a failure. The Bronx Bombers were made for the postseason. But then they moved into a cold and soulless stadium with a massive moat between the fans and the field. Then the Boss died. And after climbing to the peak of the Major League Baseball mountain in 2009, the unthinkable happened. New Yorkers far and wide knew it as The Drought. Going into the 2020 season, it was only the second time since the 1910s that the team went a decade without winning a ring.

But there was hope.

In 2016, catcher Gary Sanchez hit 20 HR in 53 games. He hit .299 that year. The season after that, he hit 33 HR while batting a respectable .278 AVG. Could he be the best hitting Yankee catcher since Thurman Munson? Would his name be whispered in the same sentence as Yogi?

That same year, a man-child standing 6’7’’ named Aaron Judge swatted home runs as if he were hitting self-serve stick balls. It was his rookie year and he hit 52 HR and batted .284 AVG. The only thing that rivaled his height was his gaudy 1.049 OPS. Was he the Mick reborn in the 21st century?

The following year (2018), the New York Yankees signed a home run machine name Giancarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins. In 2017, he hit 59 HR with 132 RBI. His first year in the Bronx he banged 38 HR while hitting 100 RBI. The Bombers also brought up a top-prospect name Gleyber Torres. He was as talented as they come.

Yankees fans began to dream. Is this the team that will put an end to The Drought? Could Judge and Sanchez and Stanton be the new Bash Brothers? The Sultans of Swat? The most potent HR hitting combinations since Gehrig and Ruth or at least Mantle and Maris?

Not so fast, the baseball gods proclaimed.

Fragile bodies and cracking confidence dealt a body blow to the Baby Bombers’ potent lineup and a death chop to fans’ hopes.

Using OFF from Fangraphs to measure their offensive output, this is what it looked like. (NOTE: Fangraphs defines OFF as “Number of runs above or below average a player has been worth offensively, combining Batting Runs and BsR.”)

image

  2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Gary Sanchez 18.2 18.6 -4.5 8.1 -4.6
Aaron Judge -4.8 61.8 31.2 23.7 7.2
Giancarlo Stanton 10.3 49.3 24.1 3.2 4.7

Clearly that peak 2017 season where Sanchez, Judge, and Stanton batted 129.7 OFF together was what the Steinbrenner’s, Yankees management, and their devoted fans believed they’d get for the next few seasons. They expected the Rocky Mountains but were greeted by a one-way descending slope. Nagging injuries and shaky confidence turned them from heroe to zeroes. With Judge and Sanchez having arbitration and free agency in the not so distant future, the question for the Yankees Front Office is how much are they worth?

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

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