The 2021 New York Yankees were generationally difficult to watch in so many ways, a fan-driven urge borne out by wildly disappointing numbers.
In fact, that club was everything the 2022 team was not. Despite winning 92 games, many of them after acquiring Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo, the Bombers rarely hit, and often held on for dear life at the end of games despite a theoretically strong bullpen.
Who can forget unforgettable meltdowns from Jonathan Loaisiga in Boston (fresh off the COVID list), Chad Green in Houston, Chad Green in Boston, Chad Green at Citi Field…
If the Yankees were hitting, they were winning by the skin of their teeth thanks to a pitching malfunction. If they weren’t hitting, they weren’t scoring (without the aid of Team MVP Run-Scoring Wild Pitch). It’s a season best forgotten — though the presence of some ex-2021 Yanks across the league this season has been a bummer of a reminder of what used to be.
Wow, how to pick only three under-performers from the ’21 roster…what to do, what to do…
Honorable mentions include:
Clint Frazier, someone who I really do not enjoy writing about anymore considering his problems are mostly medical. Unlike some, I harbor no ill will towards Frazier, despite the fact that he clearly didn’t enjoy his time in the Bronx. He was recently DFA’d by the Cubs, though, which is an objective fact.
Gio Urshela, whose defense has regressed and doesn’t line up fantastically with his roughly league-average (102 OPS+) offense.
Luke Voit, who’s mashing (124 OPS+!) but isn’t Anthony Rizzo.
Gary Sánchez, who you all want to be doing worse than he is (108 OPS+). He couldn’t be a part-time DH in New York, though. Wouldn’t have worked. Just be happy, Yankee fans.
Andrew Velazquez, who is the same player he always was. Spectacular defense, giving him 0.7 WAR … but with a 41 OPS+. Cannot hit a lick.
Brooks Kriske, who parlayed his 15.26 ERA in pinstripes last season into a 3.75 ERA in 12 innings with the Yokohama Bay Stars. Go Brooks! This guy was asked to close in extra innings at Fenway Park last year!
Unsurprisingly, there are still at least three players from the 2021 roster who belong a notch below those we just ran through.
3 members of the 2021 Yankees who are struggling in 2022
3. Nick Nelson
Hours before DFAing the trio of Frazier, Tyler Wade and Rougned Odor to get below the roster limit/prepare for a Rule 5 Draft that never came, the Yankees spun off reliever Nick Nelson and catching prospect Donny Sands to the Phillies to clear two additional spots.
This both allowed them to protect Ron Marinaccio and Steven Ridings and allowed someone else to roster Nelson. It’s, uh, not going great.
Everyone’s 2020-21 spring training darling, Nelson was mostly a gas can with the 2021 Bombers, registering a completely unreasonable 8.79 ERA in 11 games/14.1 innings. His statistics were baffling; somehow, he posted an FIP of only 4.08, which was firmly decent, and struck out 22 men in his limited run. Instead of limiting the damage, though, he maximized it, imploding far worse than any of his indicators would’ve led you to believe.
In 2022 with the Phillies, Nelson has gotten much more run in an attempt to patch together a moribund bullpen, and he’s fared slightly better. In 33.1 innings, he’s whiffed 31 men, and still grades out well, according to FIP (3.46).
On the flip side, though, he’s subtracted 0.1 WAR from his team with a 5.18 ERA, 18 walks, and a league-leading six wild pitches. Sadly, Nelson still has very little idea where his excellent stuff is heading.
In the World of Peripherals, Nelson is a solid performer. In reality, he’s very much in danger of losing a roster spot for the second consecutive season.