A year ago at this time, the Yankees were 34-15 and 5 ½ games up in the AL East, on their way to a historically good first half in which they eventually built a 15 ½-game lead in the division and a 61-23 record.
The 2023 version of the Yankees couldn’t find its footing for the first month-plus of the season, falling a whopping 10 games behind the Rays in the AL East and hovering just above .500 until recently.
But it’s possible this team could end up being better than the one from 2022.
If you remember, comparisons to the 1998 Yankees were out in full force last season, and it appeared the club was ready to cruise into the playoffs and a deep October run.
Following that lightning-hot start, though, the Yankees went just 38-40 the rest of the regular season. Then, after getting by the Guardians in the ALDS, they got smoked by the Astros in the ALCS.
While that disappointing end seemed to carry into this year, a look at where this team is now shows just how far they’ve come since a shaky April and how much better they may get.
The Yankees in thrilling fashion: with a rally from , against Orioles closer Felix Bautista and a game-winning sacrifice fly in the 10th by Anthony Volpe.
Winners of 12 of their past 15 games, the Yankees find themselves a manageable five games back of the Rays — and a healthy three-game cushion for a wild-card spot.
Not only is , but from a left oblique injury to pick up where he left off after an eye-opening postseason.
And has provided a boost to a rotation that should have more help soon (more on that in a minute).
Giancarlo Stanton and Josh Donaldson are getting closer, with Donaldson nearing a rehab assignment.
True, whether the two aging sluggers will end up improving the lineup is a valid question. Stanton hasn’t been able to stay healthy and Donaldson was a shell of himself for much of last year, but the team still has figured out a way to win without them and will no doubt make some tweaks — or more at the trade deadline.
With Aaron Hicks gone, the Yankees should have more flexibility with the roster, which they’re using currently to have the versatile Greg Allen on the team.
Also consider that they’ve gotten nothing so far out of Tommy Kahnle due to bicep tendinitis, and the right-hander should be approaching his return, as well.
The most significant addition to the roster, though, would be Carlos Rodon, who said that’s contributed to his absence after he was sidelined by a forearm injury during spring training.
The left-hander, who signed a six-year, $162 million contract to join the Yankees, has the potential to be a difference-maker at the top of the rotation alongside Gerrit Cole in the postseason.
If Rodon gets — and stays — healthy, a Yankees team that’s playing .600 ball at 30-20 suddenly looks pretty dangerous.
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LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony have been linked for more than two decades, so perhaps it should come as no surprise that the two discussed retirement on the same day.
On Monday, Anthony posted a video of himself .
The post included clips of him playing at various stages of his career, from his high school days at Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, to Syracuse and all his various stops in the NBA — including .
And it also focused on the hoops future of his 16-year-old son, Kiyan.
James after a brilliant performance in the Lakers’ season-ending Game 4 loss to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference finals.
Previously, he’d said he wanted to play in the NBA on the same team as his son Bronny, who is 18 and headed to USC in the fall.
But following the game, James after another grueling year in which he played with an injured foot.
“Going forward with the game of basketball, I’ve got a lot to think about,” James said after enduring the first non-Finals postseason sweep in his career.
Asked later what he meant by that, James told ESPN: “If I want to continue to play.’’
If this ends up being the end for James, he and Anthony will no doubt end up going into the Basketball Hall of Fame together.
They entered the league together at similar ages to how old their sons are now.
They were both drafted in 2003, James first overall out of St. Vincent/St. Mary HS in Akron, Ohio, and Anthony at No. 3 following an NCAA championship at Syracuse.
The infamous Darko Milicic went second to the Pistons.
And though James and Anthony were one year apart in school, they had plenty of overlap even before they turned pro.
On February 10, 2002, for instance, the
two played against each other in the Primetime Shootout in Trenton, NJ, with James — then a junior — leading the way with 36 points. Anthony’s Oak Hill team won, however, thanks to Anthony’s strong play.
Afterward, Anthony said something of James that was true then and remains true today: “He’s the best player around. We play against some great teams, but nobody’s better than him. He just does everything.”
Even then, for all of Anthony’s star power, they appeared to be on slightly different paths.
Anthony, a senior, talked about the matchup and the possibility of turning pro instead of going to Syracuse.
James, though, was on his way to attend the NBA All-Star Game in nearby Philadelphia that day, saying he got his tickets from Kobe Bryant, whom he’d met the previous summer at the ABCD camp at Fairleigh Dickinson University.
A little more than 21 years later, Anthony is officially out of the NBA, having last played with the Lakers last season, alongside a contemporary against whom he was often judged..
Bang for the buck
Anthony Volpe has an OPS of .670, which is nothing to get too excited about, but the 22-year-old rookie has and exhibited his clutch streak on Tuesday night.
And he’s also making the MLB minimum.
Compare that to the numbers of some of the high-priced free-agent shortstops the Yankees opted to stay away from in recent years and it looks even better.
Trea Turner is the latest . He has a .679 OPS after signing an 11-year, $300 million deal to join the Phillies this past offseason.
“I’m honest with myself,” Turner said this week. “I’ve sucked.”
He’s not the only one who’s underperformed.
Carlos Correa’s ankle has been fine in Minnesota, but , as both the Yankees and Mets look smart (or lucky) to have missed out on his .698 OPS.
And Francisco Lindor has been fine in Queens with a .731 OPS, but Steve Cohen and the Mets no doubt had higher expectations when they traded with Cleveland for him and later signed Lindor to a 10-year, $341 million deal.
Xander Bogaerts (11 years, $280 million) got off to a great start with the Padres, but his OPS is down to .778 after a poor month.
Also in San Diego, Manny Machado — who finished second in the NL MVP voting last year — has a .654 OPS this year and is out with a fractured hand. He’s in the fifth year of his massive deal.
Meanwhile, Volpe has seven extra-base hits, including four homers, in his last 15 games, all for the princely sum of $720,000.