The 2010s were a decade that many Yankees fans would consider to be a failure. Despite leading all teams in overall wins and making seven playoff appearances, the Bombers failed to even make a World Series appearance. This is the first decade that the Yankees failed to make a single Fall Classic since the 1910s.
Despite adding no more World Series trophies to Monument Park, the Yankees still had several fantastic storylines and performances while also serving as a decade of transition. This was the decade in which the Core Four of the Bombers’ success in the 1990s retired while the new core of Baby Bombers rose to stardom. While that change has yet to lead to a World Series Championship, the Yankees are in a great position to make it there for years to come. Before delving too much on the future, let’s look back at some of the Bomber’s best moments from the past decade by year.
2010: Swisher’s Walk-Off to Honor the Boss
It is hard to believe that it has been almost a decade since Yankees George M. Steinbrenner III and Bob Sheppard died. Back in 2010, the Yankees had to return to battle while mourning their losses right after the all-star break against a division rival in the Rays.
The Bombers did so on the back of two players that were a part of Steinbrenner’s vision: bringing in winners in free agency. CC Sabathia started that game and threw seven strong innings, while Nick Swisher returned from his first All-Star appearance with a bang. He tied the game the bottom of the eighth with a solo home run of Joaquin Benoit and stepped up to the plate an inning later with runners on first and second and two outs. He sent a single to right field to score Curtis Granderson to give the Yankees a massive victory not just for the standings, but for the Boss and the Voice of the Yankees.
2011: “Derek Jeter has done it, in grand style”
Hard to pick any other moment from this season other than the crowning moment in a fantastic career for the Captain. Almost a year after Swisher’s walk-off hit, Derek Jeter was two hits away from 3,000 hits, a mark no other Yankee had previously reached. Against those same Rays and staff ace David Price, Jeter got the job done. He singled in his first at-bat, and then stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the third. On the eighth pitch of his at-bat, Jeter scooped a low pitch 420 feet to left field to make history.
If that moment was not great enough, Jeter caped off his performance by driving in the game-winning run in the eighth inning with a single up the middle to score Eduardo Nunez. Oh, and that hit was his fifth hit of the game. Another classic Jeter moment.
(Honorable Mentions: Granderson, Robinson Cano, and Russell Martin each hit grand slams in a 22-9 win over the Athletics. That was the first time in MLB history that a team had hit three grand slams in game. Not to mention that Jorge Posada played a half-inning at second base and even made a put out. Oh, and Robinson Cano won the home run derby with his dad throwing to him).
2012: Swisher Leads Come Back from 9-0 Deficit in Fenway
A great comeback makes even an April game memorable for the Bombers. Down nine to nothing after a superb start from Felix Doubrant, the Yankees bombarded the Red Sox struggling bullpen after Swisher hit a grand slam off Vicente Padilla to put the Yankees within four runs in the seventh. Later that inning, Mark Teixeira blasted a rare opposite-field home run over the monster to put the Yankees within one.
Swisher gave the Bombers the lead again in the next inning with a two-run double to deep center field. His emphatic hit was only the beginning, as the Yankees mounted their second consecutive seven-run inning against Boston’s bullpen, capped off by Martin’s two run double and Jeter’s RBI infield single. This type of comeback well-represents the Yankees’ high-octane offense and grit during the 2010s.
(Honorable Mention: CC Sabathia throwing a complete game against the Orioles to send the Bombers to the ALCS)
2013: Pettitte Closes His Career with a Complete Game
This was the season that Chris Stewart was the primary starting catcher for the Yankees. However, it also featured several great sendoffs, including Mariano Rivera coming out in the all-star game at Citi Field to a standing ovation. His final appearance ended, fittingly, with his core teammates Jeter and Andy Pettitte taking him off the mound.
However, the best sendoff was Pettitte’s final start in his home state of Texas against the Astros. He went the distance for the first time since 2006, displaying the tenacity and competitive fire that he had throughout his tenure in New York and Houston. Even after giving up a two-out single in the ninth inning, Pettitte was allowed to finish is 26thcareer complete game and go out in style in from of his family members and teammates.
2014: Jeter Finishes his New York Career with a Walk-off
For the second straight season, the Yankees stumbled through a mediocre season despite several major free agent signings of Masahiro Tanaka, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, and Carlos Beltran. And, for the second straight season, the Yankees ended the year on a high note saying goodbye to their captain.
And, thanks to home runs by Steve Pearce and Adam Jones, Jeter had the chance to send New York fans home happy in the bottom of the ninth inning. The Captain did just that, lining a ball into right field to score Antoan Richardson ahead of a slightly erratic throw from Nick Markakis in right field. Of course, the quality of the throw is not important in this scenario. Afterwards, Jeter squatted on the field for the last time, with his former teammates Rivera, Pettitte, and Posada looking onward in front of the clubhouse. Like he had throughout his career, Jeter came through in the clutch to remind New York of the cool, calm, collective leader putting away his cleats.
(Honorable Mention: Masahiro Tanaka’s electric run in the first half of the season)
2015: Bird & Severino Start the Bomber’s Youth Movement Against Toronto
This was an odd season for the Yankees. Despite notching a Wild Card berth, the Bombers limped into the second half of the season to a mediocre 87-win season in which the Blue Jays overtook them for the division.
However, that playoff run did produce the Yankees’ first two Baby Bomber success stories in Luis Severino and Greg Bird. Severino, a top pitching prospect, provided the Yankees with the jolt in the rotation the Yankees needed with a 2.89 ERA in 11 starts. Meanwhile, Bird replaced an injured all-star in Teixeira with 11 home runs and a .529 slugging percentage.
The two player’s talents were on display in a September game at the Rogers Centre. Severino threw six fantastic innings, only allowing two runs to the potent Blue Jays’ lineup. In extra innings, Bird deposited a Mark Lowe pitch out for a three-run, game-winning shot to give the Bombers a much-needed victory in their postseason push. Yes, the Yankees did not finish the season strong, but this youth push was the start of a revolution in the Bronx.
2016: The Rise of the Sanchize
Although the Aroldis Chapman trade to the Cubs for Gleyber Torres, Adam Warren, and two other players was a major part to the Yankees’ rebuild, no other performance continued the Yankees’ growth other than Gary Sanchez coming up from the minor leagues and racking up home runs. Even after his late debut, Sanchez hit so well that he put himself into the Rookie of the Year Discussion. His 20 home runs (and ridiculous .657 slugging percentage) not only pushed the Yankees’ back into playoff contention after selling at the July Trade Deadline. It gave the Yankees hope for the future after Sevrino’s struggles and Bird’s injury.
(Honorable Mention: Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge hit back-to-back home runs in their first career at-bats).
2017: Didi Rocks the Bronx
This was a year featuring many great moments, from Aaron Judge announcing his massive presence by winning the home run derby, to Greg Bird’s home run off Andrew Miller in the ALDS, to every aspect of the Yankees’ game five win sealing a two-game deficit against the Indians.
However, the moment that signaled the Yankees’ return to prominence came from the Bomber’s heir-apparent at shortstop. Replacing Derek Jeter was no easy task, but Didi Gregorius did so in spades after a slow start in 2015. He signified this in the Wild Card game against an upstart Twins team. Minnesota had jumped out to a three-nothing lead against Severino in the first inning when Gregorius stepped up to the plate against Ervin Santana with Brett Gardner and Judge on first and second. He wacked a full-count fastball into the bleachers in right to tie the game and send New York into a frenzy. That moment was the start of a playoff run very few baseball fans had envisioned coming into the season. Gregorius’ hit, like the many massive hits by Jeter, signaled the Yankees’ fight and showed that the Baby Bombers were ready to play.
2018: Torres Arrives vs. Cleveland
2018 featured the rise of two solid Yankees’ rookies in Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres. While Andujar had the better overall season, Torres had the bigger coming-out moment against the Indians. This came after the Yankees mounted another comeback after being down four-nothing in the eighth inning thanks to key hits form Judge and Neil Walker. Then, Torres stepped up to the plate with Walker on second and Stanton, who had just been intentionally walked, at first. Torres blasted a Cody Allen offering into monument park to finish off a Yankees’ sweep of Cleveland. That shot made Torres the youngest Yankee to hit a walk-off, three-run homer and signaled to New York fans that they had another talented middle infielder on the diamond.
2019: Hicks Seals Wild, 14-12 Victory over the Twins
Note how I included the score from this game. That was because this was a roller-coaster of an affair, in which neither bullpen could collectively stop the might of the power on display. Minnesota had built a six-run lead thanks to home runs from Jorge Polanco, Nelson Cruz, and Miguel Sano. The Yankees countered with a bomb from Gregorius to put the Yankees within three. Down by four in the eighth inning, New York rallied back thanks to run-scoring doubles from Mike Tauchman, Judge, and Gregorius to give the Bombers a 10-9 lead. That lead was blown the next half inning thanks to Miguel Sano. His home run gave Minnesota an 11-10 lead – that was lost thanks to a two-run shot by Aaron Hicks. And that lead was gone the next half inning thanks to a sacrifice fly from Jorge Polanco.
The madness continued into extra innings, in which Torres gave New York another lead that was extended by a wild pitch. The Twins were not yet finished, though, loading in the bases against Adam Ottavino. With Chad Green replacing Ottavino, Green faced Max Kepler with two outs and the game on the line. Kepler lined a fastball that appeared to be ticketed for left-center field. Hicks had other plans. He laid out for a diving grab to put an exclamation point on one of the craziest games of the season.
This gutsy performance displayed the fight that the Yankees displayed throughout the year. Even with player after player getting hurt, the Bombers always had another player ready to go.
That fight is something that Yankees will need going into the next decade to get back to the promise land. Given the great talent – and the acquisition of a certain starting pitcher – the Yankees have seen the growth necessary in the 2010s to make more memories in the 2020s.