The All-Star break is here, which means the season is “half” over. For the Yankees, it’s actually 57 percent over with 70 games left.
Another All-Star break means another All-Animosity Team. I’ll always remember the teams which featured David Wright, Josh Beckett, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Adrian Gonzalez, Chone Figgins, Kevin Youkilis, Robert Andino, Carl Crawford, Manny Ramirez, Matt Wieters, Delmon Young, B.J. Upton (when he went by B.J.), Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Jose Bautista, Magglio Ordonez and many others. But I also like having a new generation of players to have animosity for.
The standards to be considered for the team are simple and only one of the following three requirements needs to be met:
1. The player crushes the Yankees.
2. The player plays for the Red Sox or Mets.
3. I don’t like the person. (When I say, “I don’t like the person” or if I say, “I hate someone” I mean I don’t like the person who wears a uniform and plays or manages for a Major League Baseball team and not the actual person away from the game. I’m sure some of the people on this list are nice people. I’m glad we got that out of the way since I can already see Player X’s fan base in an uproar about me hating someone who does so much for the community.)
Here is the 2022 All-Animosity Team.
C: Christian Vazquez
Christian Vazquez is back on the team after being left off in 2021. This spot belonged to Danny Jansen last season, but this season he has only played in 23 games overall and none against the Yankees, so it goes to the Red Sox’ backstop.
Vazquez isn’t good at hitting a baseball. For a catcher, he’s OK, but in the overall picture of major-league hitters, he isn’t good. That hasn’t stopped him from hitting nine career regular-season home runs against the Yankees, more than than he has hit against any other team, accounting for 17 percent of his 52 career home runs. Let’s not forget his other home run against the Yankees, a postseason solo shot in Game 4 of the 2018 ALDS that ended up being the winning run in the Yankees’ elimination.
I shouldn’t be scared of Vazquez in the box against Yankees pitching, and I really only am against Yankees’ left-handed pitching, but I am, so he’s behind the plate on this year’s team.
1B: Pete Alonso
I will never get over Pete Alonso breaking Aaron Judge’s rookie home run record in a season in which the actual baseball was manufactured so differently that Brett Gardner hit 28 home runs. Alonso never should have hit 53 home runs and never should have broken Judge’s record of 52.
To be honest, I like Alonso. I like his personality, I like how he loves competing in the Home Run Derby, and I like how he won the 2021 Home Run Derby when I had him at +600 to win. I just don’t like that he plays for the Mets, and a Met had to make this team, and there’s surprisingly no room for Francisco Lindor on this roster.
2B: Jose Altuve
Jose Altuve used to be my favorite non-Yankees player. That was before October 2019 and the uncovering of the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal.
After hitting .320/.414/.560 with two home runs, four walks and a stolen base in the Astros’ 2017 ALCS win over the Yankees, Altuve hit .348/.444/1.097 with a double, two home runs, four walks and a stolen base in the Astros’ 2019 ALCS win over the Yankees. He’s also responsible for ending the Yankees’ season with a walk-off, pennant-winning home run in Game 6 of the 2019 ALCS.
I used to enjoy watching Altuve play (when not playing the Yankees) and admired his ability for his stature. Now I watch him hoping he will fail (though he rarely does, and certainly doesn’t against the Yankees). This season it’s been more of the same for Altuve against the Yankees: .278/.435/.722 with two home runs, two doubles and two stolen bases in just five games.
3B: Rafael Devers
The moment Rafael Devers hit that two-strike, opposite-field home run off Aroldis Chapman in 2017, I knew I had a problem. I also knew the All-Animosity Team had a third baseman for the next decade. With five home runs in only eight games against the Yankees this season, Devers now has 18 career home runs against the Yankees.
Devers will on this for a long, long time, unless the Red Sox don’t sign him and hits free agency and goes elsewhere. I can only dream that will happen.
SS: Carlos Correa
Carlos Correa should be the shortstop for the 2022 Yankees, especially given the short-term, high-salary contract he signed with the Twins made possible by the Yankees freeing up the money for the Twins to sign him by taking on washed-up Josh Donaldson’s $48 million.
That Correa is not a Yankee and Isiah Kiner-Falefa is only adds to Correa’s candidacy for the shortstop position on this team once again. Add in his ridiculous .967 career OPS against the Yankees in the regular season, his .913 OPS against them in the 2017 ALCS and his two home runs in the 2019 ALCS, including his walk-off in Game 2, and Correa is an easy fit to pencil in at short on this team. It’s going to be hard someone to unseat him on this roster.
LF: Enrique Hernandez
My wife is a Dodgers fan, so since 2013 I have watched nearly every Dodgers game. So I watched Enrique Hernandez’s entire Dodgers career from 2015-2020. He has never been a good player, and when the Red Sox signed him and made him their leadoff hitter, I did a dance, and I don’t dance.
The combination of Hernandez and Dave Roberts single-handedly gave the Red Sox the 2018 World Series. Hernandez went 2-for-15 in the series and kept hitting at the top of the order thanks to his manager, who also used Ryan Madson in every big spot as if it were 2009 and not 2018. So after helping the Red Sox win a championship as an opponent, he nearly helped them win one as a member of the team in 2021, as he went 20-for-49 in the 2021 playoffs. Thankfully, the captain of this All-Animosity team (Altuve) and his former double play partner (Correa) ended the Red Sox’ season.
Hernandez has missed half this season and when he has played, he’s been horrible. It’s good to see him return to the player he used to be when he has played.
CF: Kevin Kiermaier
Kevin Kiermaier is a career .247/.306/.408 hitter, but against the Yankees it seems like he’s Ken Griffey Jr. Thirteen of his 82 career home runs (16 percent) have come against the Yankees, and he always seems to be involved in every Rays rally, drawing game-changing walks, getting big hits and making unbelievable defensive plays.
Normally, I want Yankees pitching to face as many hitters with Kiermaier’s numbers as possible, but not Kiermaier. I’m looking forward to his contract with the Rays ending at the end of this season, and hopefully the team option for 2023 isn’t picked up.
RF: Anthony Santander
A first-time All-Animosity player. Sure, Anthony Santander has an unimpressive .188/.239/.423 slash line against the Yankees in 38 career games, but of his 28 hits against them, 10 have been home runs. This season alone, Santander has five home runs in 12 games against the Yankees.
Now that the Orioles are surprisingly alive in the postseason picture (3 1/2 games out of the final wild-card spot), the seven remaining games between the two teams will actually be important for the Orioles. They will also be important for the Yankees, who are looking to be the 1-seed in the AL. (They actually might not be looking to be, but I want them and need them to be.) There’s going to be a lot of big moments for Santander in those seven games to continue his home run prowess against the Yankees and further cement his place on this team for next season as well.
DH: Alex Bregman
The first thing I used to think about when thinking about Alex Bregman was how hard it is to retire him at the plate. Now when I think of him, I think of him standing there at the Astros’ fan fest after the 2019 season and giving the same rehearsed answer over and over about the team’s sign-stealing scandal with that smirk on his face and the sarcastic laugh he kept giving the media. The easiest of players to root against. Add in his 1.101 OPS against the Yankees in five games this season, and his place on this team is secure.
SP: Nathan Eovaldi
Never trust a pitcher who throws triple-digit fastballs and can’t strike anyone out and that’s exactly what Nathan Eovaldi is. The Dodgers gave up on him and then the Marlins gave up on him as a 24-year-old with incredible velocity because he didn’t have an out pitch and didn’t know where the ball was going. So the Yankees gave up Martin Prado and David Phelps because of the glamour of Eovaldi’s fastball, thinking they would be the ones who could fix him. They weren’t.
Eovaldi pitched to a 14-3 record in 2015, so every idiot who relies on wins and losses to determine a pitcher’s success thought he had a great season. It didn’t matter that he received 5.75 runs of support per game or that he routinely struggled to get through five innings and qualify for a win because he needs 20-plus pitches to get through each inning. In 2016, it was more of the same. Eovaldi pitched to a 4.76 ERA over 21 starts and 24 games before being shut down for another Tommy John surgery, ending his time with the Yankees as they let him leave at the end of the season.
When Eovaldi returned to baseball in 2018 and pitched well with the Rays, many Yankees fans started to think about a reunion, having not learned their lesson from the last time Eovaldi was a Yankee. When he was traded to the Red Sox, I laughed with excitement, envisioning him destroying the Red Sox’ chances at winning the division. Instead, he shut out the Yankees in the all-important August series (even if faced a JV lineup) and then shut them out against in September. I never thought he would be able to beat the Yankees in October in the Bronx, but he did, after getting more run support than any other pitcher against the Yankees in the team’s history.
Eovaldi beat the Yankees and the Astros in the playoffs, mixed in a few relief appearances and then became a hero for his bullpen work in Game 3 of the World Series, even though he took the loss after giving up a walk-off home run. (Only in Boston could a losing pitcher become a “hero.”) Now Eovaldi is a World Series champion, and I will never get over it.
RP: Garrett Whitlock
This team is heavy on Red Sox and Astros, so what’s one more? Another new All-Animosity Team member.
The only thing I don’t like about Garrett Whitlock is that he pitches for the Red Sox. I don’t dislike him as a pitcher. It’s not his fault the Yankees chose to not protect him prior to last season and chose to protect Nick Nelson and Brooks Kriske, gifting the Red Sox the best pitcher on their staff. Meanwhile, Nelson and Kriske are no longer Yankees (Nelson is on the Phillies and Kriske is in Japan) after putting a combined 94 baserunners on in 46 1/3 innings as Yankees.
Here is Whitlock’s career line against the Yankees: 14 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 20 K, 1 HR, 1.93 ERA, 0.643 WHIP.
With his recent four-year extensions and options for 2027 and 2028, Whitlock will have a place on this team for the foreseeable future.
My book The Next Yankees Era: My Transition from the Core Four to the Baby Bombers is now available as an ebook!