Don't panic, Yankees fans: These World Series-winning teams struggled out the gate

Ryan Morik
·4 min read
Aaron Judge looks down 4/1
Aaron Judge looks down 4/1

After a 1-2 start where the Yankees scored just eight runs total, the sky is falling among the Bronx faithful. Even with 159 games left, plenty of Yankees fans are already throwing in the towel.

Did the opening series show resemblances of the frustrating ALDS loss to the Rays? Yes -- 16 of their 24 runs that series came via the home run, and they went 4 for 21 with runners in scoring position from Games 2 through 5. This past weekend, the Yankees went 4 for 24 with runners in scoring position and scored 37.5% of their runs with the long ball.

But the Yankees have had worse starts than this. Crazy, right? In fact, some of their most historic rosters have struggled out of the gate. Let's take a look:

1998: 1-4

Imagine if social media were around at this time.

Surely, the circumstances were different. The Yankees were fewer than 18 months removed from their 1996 World Series championship that not many saw coming. Today, it's been more than 11 years since their last. But this was also fresh off a heartbreaking ALDS loss to Cleveland, courtesy of Sandy Alomar Jr.

In 1998's first five games, the Yankees were outscored 36-15, with nine of the Bombers' runs coming in one game. Derek Jeter was 3 for 20 (.150), Bernie Williams went 4 for 20, and David Cone got lit up for seven runs in his first start of the season.

Thankfully for the Yankees, baseball season is more than 10 times longer than football season. They coasted -- almost quite literally -- making history with 114 wins, the most since the 1906 Chicago Cubs' 116. They lost just one game in the postseason, en route to their 24th World Series title.

2009: 14-16

If this Yankees team starts off 14-16, we might see tickets burned -- similar to the New York Football Giants in the late 1970s.

But 2009 didn't start off so hot. In Joe Girardi's second season as a manager, after the 2008 Yankees missed the postseason for the first time since 1993, they were 14-16 and 6.5 games back in the division May 12. The team was in its first season in their new stadium, but their biggest acquisitions all struggled early. In his first six starts, CC Sabathia allowed 21 earned runs in 39 innings (4.85 ERA) with just 24 strikeouts. A.J. Burnett racked up a 5.36 ERA (27 earned runs/45.1 innings) and allowed seven home runs in his first seven starts. By May 12, Mark Teixeira was batting .191.

After a nine-game winning streak, the Yankees clawed right back into the division race, but fell behind by five games June 23.

Then the Yankees started winning at an incredible clip. In 87 games from June 24 to Sept. 29, the Yankees went 63-24 and they led the division by 10.5 games.

Sabathia owned a 2.16 ERA in his final 11 starts, Teixeira slashed .315/.396/.597 en route to a second-place finish in the AL MVP voting and the birth of postseason Alex Rodriguez helped the Yankees to their most-recent title.

1977: 2-8

After getting swept by the Big Red Machine in 1976, the Yankees acquired Reggie Jackson, knowing it was time to take the next step.

It didn't work out like that right away, nor did Jackson's contract. In the first 10 games, the Yankees lost eight of them, with Jackson hitting just .194 with a .587 OPS.

The Yankees then finished the season 98-54, and it saw the emergence of Ron Guidry, who led MLB with a 2.73 FIP, owned a 2.82 ERA, and finished in seventh-place in the AL Cy Young Award vote in his first full season.

Jackson also made up for his struggles. Of course, he hit three home runs in Game 6 of that World Series, and became a Yankees legend.

But Yankees twitter would have called for his release April 10 of that year, most likely -- imagine if they were in the front office…

And an honorable mention, they were 14 games back of the Red Sox July 19, 1978. That season turned out OK, too.


Look, is this Yankee team anything close to 1998, 2009, 1977 or any of their World Series winning teams? No.

But it has more talent than some of those World Series champions -- the Yankees have not won 100-plus games in each of the last two 162-game seasons by accident.

But Aaron Boone mentioned the track record of his roster -- no, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton should not go to the minor leagues because of three games.

They need to be better with runners in scoring position, especially in the postseason (obviously), but the regular season should not be any Yankees fans' worries.

But just remember that three games have been played.

They'll be OK.