Why not look on the bright side?
The New York Yankees 2023 campaign was clearly filled with many disappointments, but there were also a number of positive developments worth holding on to as we inch closer to what could be a dicey offseason.
We've focused enough on the dreaded outcome and the many drastic moves that must follow if this team wants to contend in 2024, but at least there's not a whole lot to worry about regarding these three situations/developments.
3 positives to take from the Yankees' disappointing 2023 season
Anthony Volpe’s Growth
Anthony Volpe was the talk of the town prior to Opening Day, and after experiencing some legitimate growing pains, it seems as though he’s earned his pinstripes in the field and at the plate.
Although the New Jersey native finished his rookie campaign with 17 errors (sixth-most in baseball), he clearly became more comfortable as the season progressed. Volpe had the third-most DRS among shortstops and ended the year with a -0.4 DPR rating. The numbers illustrate that the 21-year old is a skillful yet imperfect fielder with plenty of room to grow.
Offensively, it'd be a tad greedy to ask for more after he was immersed in a lineup of incredibly underwhelming hitters. He ended the year with 21 home runs, 60 RBI and 24 stolen bases. Although he ranked in the 19th percentile in terms of K% and could stand to grow into more of a pure contact threat over the next few seasons, there was clearly a lot to like about his production.
Michael King’s Versatility
After missing the second half of the 2022 season due to an elbow injury, it wasn't fully known how effective Michael King would be in 2023. But the 28-year old made these concerns a moot point thanks to his performance on the bump as both a reliever and a starter.
Across 104.2 total innings, King posted a 2.75 ERA and ranked in the 88th percentile in terms of K%.
Towards the end of the regular season, the team utilized King as a starter. In his nine starts, the Rochester native slung 40.1 innings and compiled a 2.23 ERA. In one of his last starts of the campaign, King tossed seven innings of one-run baseball against the Toronto Blue Jays and struck out 13 batters in the process.
It's fully possible that King will be a starter for New York in 2024, but even if Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman do not view King as a long-term member of the rotation, the righty has shown the sort of versatility that's needed out of a championship bullpen.
Gerrit Cole’s Durability
The starting rotation was never quite what it was supposed to be this season. Injuries and a lack of consistency kept the star-studded group from being as good as advertised, but Gerrit Cole rose above the chaos and had a stellar year.
Cole went 15-4 with a 2.63 ERA and led all pitchers in WAR. Additionally, he led all American League pitchers in innings pitched, ERA, ERA+, WHIP and hits per nine innings.
Every fifth day, the 33-year old gave the Yankees a chance to win (and most of the time, a really good chance). With a better offense, it’s likely that Cole would have achieved the second 20-win season of his career.
Regardless, he’s primed to win his first Cy Young award after a year that showcased his durability and grit. 2023 may go down as Cole’s best statistical year in the Bronx, but even as he gets older, it’s his tenacity and leadership that will age like fine wine.
Going forward, the Yankees will need Cole to continue to be a reliable force atop the rotation in more ways than one, and there's no reason to believe that he’s nearing the end of his reign as one of the best in baseball.