Yankees 2022 Season in Review: Aaron Judge & “If Only”

It was a tough final series — getting swept by Houston of all teams. And a lot of “if only’s”:

  • If only the roof was closed for game 2 like it had been for game 1, Aaron Judge‘s ball goes out in the 8th inning and NY wins game 2.
  • If only Gleyber Torres and Isiah Kiner-Falefa make that double play in the 8th inning of game 4 — the Yankees would mostly likely have won that game.
  • If those two “If Only’s” above happen — it’s a 2-2 series tie after 4 games.

If only.

1. 99 Wins & Beat Cleveland in 1st Round

Other than that the Yankees had a terrific season. They won 99 games during the regular season — we predicted 102 before the season and Yanks were on that pace until losing a few in the last week of the year when they’d already clinched the division.

The Yankee season has to be considered a success — despite the really bad taste at end of year with the sweep by the Astros. In baseball, any team can beat any team in a short series — and if only two “if only’s” had happened in NY’s favor they’d still be playing.

  • MLB now has 12 (Twelve) teams making the playoffs — meaning the odds of winning it all for even a big market team like the Yankees who spend a ton on payroll, are 12-1 (you can win 100 games and someone else in your division wins 102, making you the wildcard). If you win the division the odds drop to 8-1.
  • Still — that means winning a title ON AVERAGE every 12 years (used to be 10). Which means you can go 18 years making the playoffs every year and never going all the way, then win 2 in a row and you’re right on probability.

2. Aaron Judge’s Historic Year

It will be a season remembered for Aaron Judge’s historic year — breaking the “Clean” Homerun record with 62, and almost winning the triple crown to boot — what a year.

Judge started cementing himself as an All Time Great Yankee — and winning the MVP made every Yankee fan feel righteous redemption (as he got ripped off by a cheating Jose Altuve in 2017).

And Judge re-signed with the Yanks long-term (9 years). PHEW.

3. Cole Stood Tall

Gerrit Cole answered the bell — in the year after so many rumors floated that his elite success was due to sticky stuff, and he might become a good-but-not-great pitcher after sticky stuff had now been banned — he was Great in the playoffs — pitching big time performances against Cleveland (winning 2 games — total 13 innings, 3 runs) and pitching well against Houston (5 innings, 3 runs in game 1 that the Yanks tossed away).

Cole pitched well during the regular season: 13-8 3.50 with 257 K’s in 200 innings and only 154 hits allowed for a 1.017 WHIP which was much lower than 2021 when he almost won the Cy Young.

4. Cortes Became an Ace

Nestor Cortes entered the year as a top Yankee pitcher, and took another step up — becoming an Ace and making the All Star team. He was 12-4 2.44.

Nestor Cortes Jr spinning and pirouetting before throwing a strike for another strikeout during his 1-hit shutout performance.

5. Severino Is Back

More good news for the Yanks — Luis Severino had a strong year — his first full year back from the Tommy John surgery. He was 7-3 3.18 in the regular season with 102 innings, 112 K’s and only 72 hits allowed. He also had strong starts against both Cleveland and Houston in the playoffs.

6. Trevino an All Star

Jose Trevino was a huge story for NY — acquired just before the season started for little in return. He was tremendous defensively, handled the pitching staff well, and was a revelation with the bat — putting bat-on-ball all year for clutch hits and a 11-43-.248 slash line and making the All Star team.




7. Kiner-Falefa Culture Change — Cancelled

The big trade in the offseason was to acquire Isaiah Kiner-Falefa for shortstop and his put-the-ball-on-the-bat offense and SPEED changed the Yankee culture early in the season, helping the Yanks out to a tremendous start.

Kiner could also pick it in the field — but as the season progressed, he made numerous errors on easy grounders — in addition to some spectacular plays in the field. Half of Yankee Twitter turned on him as his power production wasn’t much and the muffs on easy grounders cost some games.

Falefa ended with a 4-48-.261 (.314) slash line — good offensive numbers for a shortstop in a year where batting averages were at historic lows due to the computer-aided shift. He stole 22 bases and only got caught 4 times.

Falefa made 15 errors at shortstop for a .970 fielding percentage. Not great but not bad.

His year ended prophetically — he got the Yankees out of the gate offensively with a big leadoff double in 2nd inning and scored the first run in game 4 vs Houston, but then coughed up the win by not catching a double-play ball thrown to him in the 8th inning by Gleyber Torres — the throw was off but Kiner-Falefa charged in on the ball too soon and was already on 2nd, unable to catch the slightly-behind-him throw.

8. Holmes New Ace Reliever; King the Ace Setup

Clay Holmes started off the year as a setup man to Aroldis Chapman, but when Chapman faltered Holmes was made the ace as was a big reason for the Yankees’ great first half of the season.

In the summer months Holmes faltered, but he came on strong at the end and in the playoffs — and projects as the Yank’s ace reliever in 2023.

Michael King was another revelation — he stepped into the main setup role when Holmes became ace reliever — and King was Fantastic: 6-3 2.29 — before blowing out his arm and needing Tommy John surgery halfway through the year.

9. Wandy & Loaisiga & Schmidt & Marinaccio

Another great development to come out of the 2022 season was the great pitching under pressure from the rest of the bullpen — Wandy Peralta, Clarke Schmidt, Ron Marinaccio from Toms River, New Jersey, and Jonathan Loaisiga when he returned from injury late in the year.

By the playoffs Loaisiga looked top notch again — throwing 100 MPH and filthy. Wandy was a clutch, gutsy pitcher all year.

And Greg Weissert was the ace reliever all season at Scranton, and came up late in the year and — after a horrific first appearance — did great for the Yanks.

10. Taillon Terrific

James Taillon was a big reason for the Yankees getting off to the great 1st half and having the 99-win year. He led the staff in wins and posted a terrific 14-5 3.91 in 177 innings, allowing 168 hits, with 151 strikeouts and a 1.12 WHIP.

Unfortunately it was his contract year, and he signed with the Chicago Cubs at the end of the season.


11. Gallo and Hicks Drama

Isiah Kiner-Falefa inherited the Yankee Twitter “Lord of the Flies Piggy” trophy from Joey Gallo — who started the year in a terrible slump that lasted until he was traded to the Dodgers at the trade deadline in July. He struck out constantly, hit .150 and his offense even affected his defense — as the 2-time Gold Glover started botching plays badly in the outfield. He was booed vociferously and constantly at Yankee Stadium.

With the Dodgers he started off well — but in the end his slash line was similar to that in NY:

  • Gallo for NY: 12-24-.159 (.282 OBP) in 233 at bats 106 K’s
  • Gallo for LA:  7-23-.162 (.277 OBP) in 117 at bats 57 K’s

And Aaron Hicks had a nightmare season — he was horrible in Centerfield so was put in Left, and made some horrible plays there. He gave off the impression of being indifferent on the field, although he has said he was inwardly pressing and had lost confidence.

  • Hicks final numbers: 8-40-.216 (.330 OBP) in 453 at bats.

At the end of the year, when Hicks found the bench, he publicly asked for a trade as he thought he could help a contender if he played more. It was a galling statement.

12. The Arrival of Oswaldo and Oswald

As Hicks faded and Gallo was awful, the Yankees were energized by the energetic arrival of Oswaldo Cabrera, who ripped up thru the Yankee minor league system the last few years and grabbed attention in the Bronx when he was called up early in the year.

He hit, hit, hit and was fantastic in the field wherever the Yankees played him — including shortstop, 2nd base, 3rd base, right field and left field.

  • Cabrera’s slash line: 6-19-.247 (.312 OBP) in 154 at bats. In the end doesn’t seem like much but it was a historically low year for batting averages.

And at the end of the year superstar prospect shortstop Oswald Peraza was brought up and he shined — tremendous Defense at shortstop — showing great range and strong arm — and he hit too:

  • Peraza’s slash line: 1-2-.306 (.404 OBP) in 49 at bats (after a 19-50-.259 (.329 OBP) in 326 at bats in AAA)

13. Say Goodbye to Chapman

Aroldis Chapman had few bright spots. The 34-year-old lefty pitched well in brief stretches — but mostly didn’t. He couldn’t get his fastball over the plate; the sticky stuff ban seems to have affected him greatly.

  • Chapman was 4-4 4.46 in 36 innings.

At the end of the season, he was not put on the roster for the playoff series versus Cleveland — so refused to report to the Yankees pre-playoff camp. The Yankees released him.

In the off season he signed with the Kansas City Royals.

14. Goodbye Monty; Hello Bader!

At the trade deadline in July, the Yankees traded Jordan Montgomery, who had pitched well as a 5th starter — for Harrison Bader of St Louis. This bummed out many a Yankee fan (including us) — who viewed Montgomery as a dependable starter from the system, a Yankee through and through. Monty was 3-3 3.79 at the time and had pitched better than that.

Bader was said to be a fantastic defensive centerfielder — maybe the best in baseball — and an ok hitter. He was injured and wasn’t supposed to play again until end of the year.

Monty started off for St Louis by pitching a complete game 1-hit shutout. And had several terrific starts after that. In the end he was 6-3 3.11 for St Louis.

But you have to give good to get good — and Bader — when he finally was healthy and started playing — was GREAT.

The 28-year-old played a phenomenal defense AND got big hits throughout the playoffs. His ENERGY on the field rejuvenated the Yankees. He is penciled in as the starting Yankee centerfielder into the future.



15. Montas and Trivino

Monty became expendable because the Yankees traded for Frankie Montas at the trade deadline. The Yanks had been after Montas for years — viewing him as a top-of-the-rotation starter. NY gave up several top pitching prospects — including JP SearsKen Waldichuk, and Luis Medina — for Montas and reliever Lou Trivino.

Montas had gone 13-9 3.37 in 2021, but had been having trouble winning in 2022 with a 4-9 3.18 record for last-place Oakland. Some pointed out that Montas’ ERA was much lower at pitcher-friendly Oakland stadium, and was quite mediocre on the road. Some fans feared the Yanks acquiring another pitcher from Oakland — as they had traded for Sonny Gray in 2017 — and saw him pitch horribly for the Yanks — his record seemingly helped by pitcher-friendly A’s stadium.

And those worst fears were realized: Montas was terrible for NY: 1-3 6.35.

The toss in player the Yanks got in the trade turned out to be terrific: Lou Trivino — former Ace reliever — recaptured his old form and was terrific for the Yanks down the stretch (1-2 1.66 in 25 games) and in the playoffs.

16. LeMahieu the Perfect “Play Everywhere” Utility Man

Coming into the year everyone wondered where DJ LeMahieu would play. Manager Aaron Boone‘s answer would always be: “Everywhere”. That didn’t seem to make sense but that’s exactly where he played — at 1st, at 2nd, and at 3rd — and he played like a Gold Glover at all 3 positions. He played so well some in media were talking about a new Award that should be given out to Utility Man of the Year.

DJ slashed 12-46-.261 (.357 OBP) in the year of historically low batting averages. He did well.

17. Stanton Healthy

In the shadow of Aaron Judge’s phenomenal year, Giancarlo Stanton stayed healthy the whole year — and for the second year in a row, NY had the two sluggers playing the whole year together. Stanton slashed 31-78-.211 (.297 OBP) in the year of historically low batting averages.

18. More Stories!

And all of the above doesn’t tell the stories of Albert Abreu, Chad Green, JP Sears, Ryan Weber, Zack Britton, Marwin Gonzalez, Lucas Luetge, Miguel Castro, Matt Carpenter, Andrew Benintendi, Miguel Andujar, Estevan Florial, Kyle Higashioka, Manny Banuelos, Scott Effross, and others! So many stories!

“That’s baseball, Suzyn.”








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