The New York Yankees went though a transitional season in 2016, with a Japanese import starting pitcher named as their Player of the Year.
The New York Yankees are the most storied franchise in the history of Major League Baseball, but the 2016 season was certainly not one of their best.
Joe Girardi‘s club went 84-78, finishing in fourth place in the American League East Division standings. This was the club’s lowest finish in 24 years. It was one of only three times in that stretch that they did not either win the division or finish in second place.
Yankees 2016 Statistical Leaders
There were some fine performances turned in by Yankees players this season. Left fielder Brett Gardner won his first career Gold Glove Award. He also had a .362 on-base percentage, scored 80 runs, and stole 16 bases.
Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury scored 71 bases and stole 20 bags. The “up-the-middle” group hit for some pop. Catcher Brian McCann (20 homers, 58 RBI), second baseman Starlin Castro (21 homers, 70 RBI), and shortstop Didi Gregorius (20 homers, 70 RBI).
Rookie catcher Gary Sanchez was called up to stay in early August. Over 53 games he hit for a .299/.376/.657 slash line. He also produced 20 homers and 42 RBI, finishing as the runner-up in AL Rookie of the Year voting.
On the mound, Chapman and Miller joined Dellin Betances in making up a strong bullpen trio before the former pair were dealt away. Betances recorded a dozen saves with a 3.08 ERA and 1.123 WHIP. He allowed 54 hits over 73 innings with a 126/28 K:BB ratio.
Tanaka Earns the Yankees 2016 Player of the Year
Tanaka went 14-4 in 2016 with a 3.07 ERA and 1.077 WHIP. In 199.2 innings over 31 starts Tanaka allowed 179 hits and registered a 165/36 K:BB ratio. His 5.4 WAR led the Yankees this season.
There is a bit of a warning sign on Tanaka. His final start of the 2016 season was skipped due to a strained forearm. He said that he felt fine and was ready to go, but with the team out of the race they decided to just skip him, leaving him just 1/3 of an inning shy of the 200-inning mark.
“Initially I think I mentioned this at the start of the season or in spring training, that was one of the goals that I wanted to get to—in that sense, yes,” said Tanaka in regards to wanting that final start per NJ.com’s Ryan Hatch.
The starts that Tanaka was able to make in this season of transition for the team has led to his being named the New York Yankees 2016 Player of the Year.