Ranking the Top 5 Yankees stories of 2022

Brian Cashman and Aaron Judge
Brian Cashman and Aaron Judge / USA TODAY Sports/SNY Treated Image

With the calendar about to flip to 2023, here are the Yankees' Top 5 stories of 2022...

5. Emergence of Nestor Cortes

Nestor Cortes had a solid 2021 with the Yankees, so there were some expectations for the 28-year-old entering the 2022 season. But no one predicted he'd have the year he wound up having.

In 28 starts, Cortes went 12-4 with a 2.44 ERA and 0.922 WHIP en route to his first All-Star selection and garnering some AL Cy Young votes in the process. He also became invaluable as the Yankees’ second-best pitcher behind Gerrit Cole all season.

Heck, when the playoffs were about to begin there were even conversations between fans and pundits on whether the Yankees would start Cole or Cortes in Game 1 of a series.

But the Yankees were happy that they found a bonafide No. 2 starter and make a run in the playoffs. He also captured the hearts of Yankees fans with his unorthodox mix of deliveries and hard-nose play.

Remember when Cortes laid out to make the out at first base against the Cleveland Guardians in April?

4. Aaron Boone, Brian Cashman return

Turn on New York sports radio and you’ll likely hear disgruntled Yankees fans asking for manager Aaron Boone and GM Brian Cashman to lose their jobs.

Despite questionable decisions and a lack of World Series appearances lately, both are here to stay at least for a bit.

Boone still has two more years on his contract and Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said after the season was over that he didn’t “see a change there,” so questions about the five-year manager were put to rest -- but Cashman was handled very differently.

The longtime GM’s contract expired after the season ended and he was working without a new one for weeks all the way through the Winter Meetings. Both sides eventually agreed to a four-year contract.

New York Yankees designated hitter Matt Carpenter (24) strikes out in the seventh inning against the Houston Astros during Game 3 of ALCS.
New York Yankees designated hitter Matt Carpenter (24) strikes out in the seventh inning against the Houston Astros during Game 3 of ALCS. / Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

3. Yanks swept in ALCS

The Yankees got off to a blistering start in 2022. Through 60 games, the Yankees were 44-16 and were threatening the coveted 114-48 record held by the 1998 Yanks.

Of course, that didn’t come to pass as the Yankees struggled mightily in the second half, especially in August when they went 10-18. While New York would hold on to win the AL East, its unceremonious elimination in the ALCS was a big deal. And while it’s never a guarantee the Yankees would make the World Series -- they haven’t since 2009 -- it’s the way they lost that was eye-opening.

The Yankees stuck out 50 times against the rival Houston Astros and their defense/managerial decisions blew two of those games. New York was outmatched and when they were trailing, there was no confidence that they could mount anything resembling a comeback.

2. Aaron Judge re-signs with Yanks and named captain

With a historic season behind him, the biggest question in baseball was whether Aaron Judge would return to the Bronx in the offseason.

After weeks of Hal Steinbrenner personally meeting with the slugger, Judge and his camp came into the Winter Meetings still not having made a decision.

What followed was an intense few days where it looked like the Yankees were the favorites to re-sign their All-Star but an ill-timed tweet stating the San Francisco Giants were about to land Judge set the baseball world ablaze.

Some scrambling and a Steinbrenner call from Italy later, and the Yankees bumped their offer from eight years, $320 million to nine years, $360 million, enough to keep Judge in pinstripes for presumably the rest of his career.

Arguments on whether the Yankees should have given Judge the money/years aside, if New York was unable to bring its most recognizable face since Derek Jeter back because of money, it would have turned the fanbase against the organization and would have been a black-eye for years.

When the Yankees re-introduced Judge at their news conference, it came with the news that Judge, indeed, would be the first captain since Jeter.

Aaron Judge
Aaron Judge / USA TODAY Sports/SNY Treated Image

1. Judge hits No. 62 en route to becoming MVP

Entering his final season before free agency, Judge made the ultimate “bet on myself” move by rejecting the Yankees’ Opening Day contract extension offer to play out the 2022 season and test the market.

That bet paid off big time as Judge had one of the best offensive seasons in baseball history, full stop.

Many fans will recognize Judge’s 62 home runs, setting the American League single-season record, as the highlight of his year but the 31-year-old hit .311 (second in the AL) and led the league with 135 RBI. He led all of MLB in not just homers and RBI, but in runs scored, total bases, slugging and OPS+. He also led the league in WAR (10.6), which -- love or hate the stat -- tells a story of how important a specific player is to his team.

All of those factors led to Judge picking up his first MVP award and the 14th Yankee to win it -- the first since Alex Rodriguez in 2007 -- and just the second player in franchise history to win both the MVP and Rookie of the Year awards.