The Yankees have a lot of experience of winning with rosters filled by famous players. Like many other major league teams, they have had to rely on signing free agents and making trades to compete each season. The same is true of the 2019 offseason, as the team signed star starting pitcher Gerrit Cole to their roster. Players with star power – like him – have played vital roles in the past. Here are some of the best players who helped the Yankees win one (or more) of their World Series titles. It makes one wonder, could Gerrit Cole be the next player in-line to contribute to a championship surge?
1996 – Darryl Strawberry
We start with a former New York Met, who helped the team win the 1986 World Series. But by 1995, Darryl Strawberry signed with New York Yankees after playing with the San Francisco Giants one year earlier. Strawberry was coming into his declining years, far and away from his talent in the 1980s. Strawberry came back in 1996 to help the Yankees win a title after his time in the Northern League with the St. Paul Saints. His 1996 stats included 53 hits, 35 runs, and 11 home runs, and 36 RBI.
He was a big part of the Yankees team that season because he hit when the Yankees needed him to. In the 1996 ALCS against the Baltimore Orioles, he hit a total of three home runs, including two in one game. Throughout the 1996 playoffs, he had eight hits – three of which went over the fence. Though he posted more impressive stats in 1998, Strawberry wasn’t able to play in the playoffs that year due to a colon cancer diagnosis.
1998 – Scott Brosius
In 1998, the Yankees traded starter Kenny Rogers to the Oakland Athletics in return for infielder Scott Brosuis. At the time, Brosuis was an effective, albeit unflashy, player. But when his first season with the Yankees came, he transformed into much more. Brosius had 159 hits, 89 runs, 96 RBI, and 19 home runs in the regular season. On top of that, his postseason was incredible. Through the entire playoffs, he had 18 hits, 15 RBI, and four home runs – one of them being a smash in Game 3 of the 1998 World Series against the Braves to add to their lead. His success in that series earned him a World Series MVP honors.
1999 – Roger Clemens
Roger Clemens was coming off a fantastic two-year stretch with the Toronto Blue Jays between. The Yankees signed Clemens after their 1998 World Series victory. For his first season as a Yankees pitcher, though, he did not pitch like his previous year. Clemens had a 14-10 record with a 4.60 ERA and 163 strikeouts.
But when the playoffs started, he helped win against the Texas Rangers in Game 3 of the ALDS, only allowing three hits in his performance. Clemens’ start in Game 3 in the ALCS against his former team, the Boston Red Sox, however, did not go well at all. Clemens allowed six hits, two home runs, while only striking out two batters. Thankfully, he bounced back against the Atlanta Braves in Game 4 to clinch the World Series win for the Yankees. Clemens allowed four hits, one run, and was able to strike out four batters. Even though Clemens struggled in the regular season, he performed when the team needed him most.
2000 – David Justice
David Justice was a part of the strong Cleveland Indians squad back in 1997 – the year they beat the Yankees in the ALDS. In June of 2000, he was traded to the Yankees, who needed a big bat in their lineup. Justice was exactly what the Yankees needed. Before the trade, he had 66 hits and 21 home runs with an OBP of .361. For the rest of the season, Justice provided a total of 84 hits, 20 home runs, and an OBP of .391 while wearing pinstripes.
In the postseason, he hit three home runs – including one big three-run home run to give the Yankees the lead in Game 6 of the ALCS against the Seattle Mariners. His success earned him the ALCS MVP. Justice also had 13 hits with 12 RBI total in the playoffs. He was a pivotal piece to help the Yankees win their 26th title. He would play in 2001 with the Yankees before being traded to the Oakland Athletics.
2009 – CC Sabathia
When signing Gerrit Cole, people described the signing as similar to the signing of CC Sabathia 11 years ago. Signing in 2009, Sabathia became the best pitcher for the 2009 squad, as he owned a 19-8 record. The southpaw also had 197 strikeouts to go with a 3.37 ERA.
In the team’s run for their 27th ring, CC had a 3-1 record, striking out 32 batters while only giving up 28 hits and nine runs. His only loss came against the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 1 of the World Series, which continued his struggles against the National League’s representative. If Sabathia had not signed with the Yankees, it is likely that the team would not have won its 27th title. His importance to the team will certainly not be forgotten by fans.
Can Gerrit Cole Do the Same in 2020?
The Yankees needed to make a move because they will not go another decade without a World Series appearance. Thankfully, Brian Cashman thought the same thing going into this year’s Winter Meetings. That move came in the form of Gerrit Cole. Four minutes before midnight on December 10th, Cole signed a deal worth $324 million to head to New York. Coming off one of his best seasons with a 2.50 ERA, he, struck out 350 batters in the Astros’ dominant run.
For the Yankees, their ALDS run was rough against Cole’s team. Not only were the Houston Astros scoring runs, but the Yankees had to rely on their relievers to keep them in the game.
The Yankees needed an ace to help them become a dangerous rotation; Cole can do just that. Along with James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka and Luis Severino, the Yankees could possess a strong rotation. However, there is an opening in the rotation due to Domingo’s German‘s suspension. However, the team could fill that spot with Jordan Montgomery or J.A. Happ until German’s return.
What to sum up about the Yankees for next season.
The Yankees are becoming a better team. They found their ace in Gerrit Cole and the offense continues to look strong enough for a World Series chase in 2020. Either way, should Cole’s production amount to any of the other iconic signings, the Yankees could be a force to be reckoned with.
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