Despite the disappointing loss in the Division Series, the 2011 season was certainly a memorable one for me as a Yankee fan. We’ll certainly have much more in-depth looks at the season and its successes and failures, but I wanted to go over a few of some of my favorite things from 2011.
Jesus Montero: Despite a disappointing beginning to the season and myriad rumors that he was bored in AAA, the 21 year-old made a major splash in the majors, showing few signs of being overmatched against big-league pitching and showing his prodigious opposite-field power. His catching remains a work in progress, but it seems certain that Montero will play a significant role in the Yankee lineup next season and for the forseeable future (barring a trade).
Russell Martin: His awful Game 5 is going to leave a bad taste in many mouths, but it was a pleasure to watch Martin go to work behind the plate after all those years of Jorge Posada’s mediocrity. The interesting new studies on pitch framing are further evidence of Martin’s defensive value, and while his bat was streaky, he was able to hit some big home runs. He may not be the Yankees’ catcher long-term, but his presence will bring some stability in the post-Posada era.
Bardy Garcilon: Both Garcia and Colon came to the Yankees this year on minor league deals, believed to be over the hill with nothing left to contribute. Instead, both became vital pieces of a Yankee rotation that exceeded all expectations. They did it with contrasting styles: Colon with his power fastball and darting 2-seamer and Garcia by changing speeds and mixing pitches, but it was fun to watch these veterans at work. I imagine at least one of them could be back next year for depth, and they’ve certainly earned another shot.
Derek Jeter: Much-maligned and left for dead after a down year, Jeter was well on his way to proving the critics right with a slow start to the season and a DL stint. Following the injury, however, Jeter was able to turn things around, collecting his 3000th hit in grand fashion (via a home run off David Price), and lifting his batting average up to a respectable .297 at season’s end.
Ivan Nova: Once an afterthought in the Yankee farm system and demoted to AAA due to a crowded rotation, Nova was a horse for the Yankees down the stretch this year, and looks to be a strong rotation option going forward. His slider improved notably, becoming a legitimate strikeout pitch, giving him another option to use other than his sinker. His Game 1 appearence was a huge success on a big stage, though it may be overshadowed by his injury in Game 5.
David Robertson: He took the next step as a reliever, proving that his strong 2010 season was no fluke. He continued to be a dominant strikeout artist with a propensity from escaping difficult jams (sometimes of his own creation), but he looks to be a legitimate successor at closer going forward. Which brings me to:
Mariano Rivera: What more can be said about this guy that hasn’t already been covered? With consistency, dominance, poise under pressure, and class both on and off the field, Mo personifies everything that is right about baseball. It was a pleasure to watch him earn the all-time saves record, and his humility in the face of effusive praise. Once again, the ageless one showed no signs of slowing down, and here’s to many more seasons in pinstripes.
Last night’s defeat was certainly wrenching, but there was a lot to be thankful for as a fan. It’s going to be a long offseason as always, but I’ll be counting down the days until 2012. Thanks again to all the readers and commenters for helping to make TYA a fun and interesting place to discuss our beloved team.
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