Five years is a pretty long time, so you’d expect quite a bit of roster turnover since the Yankees last American League pennant back in 2009. The Yankees used 13 players in that ALCS clincher five years ago. It’s a group that has very little resemblance to the group the Yankees are likely to roll out on Opening Day of 2015.
This is what the Yankees looked like on the day they last won a pennant:
Johnny Damon LF – A former Red Sox center fielder playing in the Yankees outfield and hitting at the top of the Yankees batting order. I guess there some resemblances after all.
Mark Teixeira 1B – In 2009, Teixeira hit .292/.383/.565. Other than the name, there’s really not much connection between this first baseman and the current Yankees first baseman.
Alex Rodriguez 3B – Just how good was Rodriguez in his prime? He had a .933 OPS in 2009, and we can now look back at that season as one of the early stages of his significant decline. Production has gone down and down ever since.
Jorge Posada C – Two years later he would be dumped to the bottom of the order, but this was still vintage Posada. In the five seasons since, the Yankees have had four different players lead the team in games played behind the plate.
Hideki Matsui DH – Back when the Yankees were still vaguely young enough and healthy enough to carry a full-time designated hitter without sacrificing much-needed flexibility.
Robinson Cano 2B – Batting seventh in the playoffs. Amazing. This was the year Cano truly emerged. He was one his way to being one of the game’s elite hitters.
Nick Swisher RF – Batting eighth in the playoffs. Also amazing. Swisher hit 29 homers in 2009. He had a .371 on-base percentage. The Yankees hit seven players ahead of him. Most-often used No. 8 hitter in 2014: Brian Roberts.
Melky Cabrera CF (Brett Gardner played center after entering as a pinch runner) — It’s been a weird road for Cabrera since he left the Yankees, but Gardner’s emergence has been one of the system’s few offensive success stories.
Andy Pettitte SP – Proof that having older players isn’t necessarily a problem. The key is to find older players who are still productive and affordable. For whatever it’s worth, CC Sabathia was declared the MVP of this series.
Joba Chamberlain RP – Worked as a starter most of that 2009 season. Chamberlain was one of only four Yankees to pitch as many as 100 innings, but he moved into his familiar bullpen role for the playoffs. Had a lot of home-grown relievers help out in the bullpen that season: Phil Hughes, Phil Coke, Dave Robertson.
Mariano Rivera RP – Of course. Amazing that, of all the players on this list, Rivera’s among the ones the Yankees statistically miss the least these days.
Associated Press photos