Yankees: 2002 Team One of the Best Not to Win a World Series
The 2002 New York Yankees are of the best teams to come up short.
The New York Yankees have won 27 World Series championships, more than any other Major League Baseball franchise. It could be argued which team was the best team not to win it all in the Bronx, but the 2002 version of the Yankees would rank high on that list.
Coming off of falling short in the 2001 World Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Yankees had maybe one of their most disappointing postseasons with a talented team. They finished with the top seed in the four-team playoff, but never made it out of the ALDS, after losing in four games to the Wild Card Anaheim Angels. After winning the first game at home, they dropped the final three in frustrating fashion.
That season, the Yankees were loading in the pitching department. They rolled out Mike Mussina, David Wells, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Orlando Hernandez as starters. Wells won 19 games in the regular season, and Mussina 18. Pettitte and Hernandez each won 13.
In the bullpen, Mariano Rivera was closing, with Ramiro Mendoza, Steve Karsay and Mike Stanton serving as some of the dependable arms in front of him. With the arms in the starting rotation and in the bullpen, it makes it more head-scratching as to how they fell apart and let the team down in October.
Offensively, the Yankees had a mashing lineup. Four players, led by Jason Giambi with 41, had 20 or more home runs. Bernie Williams finished one short at 19, and Derek Jeter finished with 18. Giambi led three players with 100 or more RBI with 122, and Jorge Posada checked in with 99.
Against the Angels, the Yankees scored 25 runs in the four games, which should have been more than enough to advance to the ALCS. However, they gave up 31, including six innings where they gave up two or more runs. The biggest punch by the Angles was the final one in Game 4, when they scored eight runs in the fifth inning to erase a 2-1 deficit off of Wells for a 9-2 lead. Game. Set. Match.
What makes that postseason loss hurt more is that the Angels went on to win the World Series, beating the Minnesota Twins in the ALCS and the San Francisco Giants in the World Series.
There are other Yankee teams in their history that came up short in the playoffs. Many other teams and seasons could be examined, but one that sticks out is the 2002 team. It could have been four titles in five years, but their pitching let them down.