10 Struggling Players the New York Yankees Have Turned Around

Ely Sussman@@MrElyminatorCorrespondent IDecember 18, 2011

10 Struggling Players the New York Yankees Have Turned Around

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    Throughout their history, the New York Yankees have regularly pursued dominant, high-priced players.

    However, every so often they have taken flyers on struggling veterans and gotten them back on track.

    Not all of these guys were able to sustain their new-found success. Nonetheless, each contributed to plenty of Yankee wins when they weren't necessarily expected to.

SP Red Ruffing

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    Frustrated as a young pitcher with the Boston Red Sox, Red Ruffing put together a Hall of Fame career once moving to the other side of the rivalry.

    In parts of seven seasons in Beantown, Ruffing was 39-95.

    Like a fine wine, he got better with age.

    He put on far fewer baserunners as a New York Yankee and posted a stellar 234-130 record in the 1930s and 1940s.

    In the years before World War II, Ruffing was perennially an American League All-Star. Shockingly, he returned from his tour of duty as a 40-year-old and was better than ever.

SP Allie Reynolds

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    Allie Reynolds was an awesome starting pitcher for the Cleveland Indians upon debuting in the majors.

    It's important to note, though, that he was doing so during the war years on the 1940s when many of the league's most talented batters were overseas.

    He struggled for the first time in his career when the stars began to flood back in 1946. His WHIP (1.57) and ERA+ (85) testify to that.

    Nonetheless, the New York Yankees saw he was destined for dominance and exchanged their stud second baseman Joe Gordon for Reynolds.

    He went on to win at least 16 games in each of his first six seasons after the deal. Also, he was a serious contender for the American League MVP award in 1951 and 1952.

RF Roger Maris

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    The MLB immortal came over to the New York Yankees in a blockbuster trade after the 1959 season. He had modestly produced as a 24-year-old, but would elevate his game with this storied organization.

    He stole the spotlight from Mickey Mantle in 1960 by slugging 39 home runs en rout to winning AL MVP.

    He one-upped himself the following year and surpassed Babe Ruth's single-season record with 61 bombs, which was worthy of a second consecutive MVP award.

    He had several more solid seasons before declining unfortunately early.

3B Wade Boggs

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    Wade Boggs surely did not need help from the New York Yankees coaching staff to rediscover how to hit. Rather, the team scooped him up at the perfect time.

    Boggs failed to hit .300 in 1992 for the first time and the Yankees signed him as a free agent that December.

    As expected, he bounced back and played an integral role in returning the slumping franchise to relevance.

    The only two Gold Gloves of Boggs' career were won as a Yankee. He was also on the 1996 championship team.

DH/OF Darryl Strawberry

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    Darryl Strawberry was sensational as a New York Met throughout his 20s, but his production came to a halt when he went to the West Coast. Strawberry was undesired by the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants before the Yankees took a chance on him.

    He hit 11 home runs in 1996 after falling short of double-digits in the four previous seasons.

    Then in 1998, when every Yankee was seemingly at his best, Strawberry played in 101 games and powered 24 home runs.

    Had personal problems not gotten in the way, his renaissance may have continued into the 21st century.

3B Scott Brosius

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    The Oakland Athletics let Scott Brosius hit free agency after a brutal 1997 campaign. He had regressed according to every offensive measure, notably finishing with a .576 OPS after reaching .909 in 1996.

    What a smart signing for the New York Yankees!

    Brosius started at third base for them through 2001, a streak during which they appeared in four straight World Series and fell just one game short of clinching all of them.

    He contributed 98 RBI in 1998 and played in the All-Star Game. He won a Gold Glove the following season.

SP Aaron Small

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    Injuries and poor performances rattled the team's starting rotation in 2005. Their odds at repeating as AL East division champs were in doubt.

    Enter Aaron Small. The longtime reliever had thrown only 16.2 MLB innings over the prior six seasons!

    As a starter, though, Small was amazingly unbeatable. I mean that literally—he was 10-0 with a 3.20 ERA during the most important months of the regular season.

    His career would fade soon after, but his brief turn-around made an obvious impact.

RF Nick Swisher

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    The New York Yankees traded for Nick Swisher coming off a year where he disappointed as a starting outfielder. Naturally, they figured he would be a nice addition to their bench if he were willing to accept the demotion.

    Little did they know that Xavier Nady would go down with an injury in April 2009 and never return to form.

    It goes without saying that they were grateful to have a proven slugger in Swisher, who started 141 games and helped the Yankees christen their new stadium with a World Series championship.

    He has been superb over three seasons.

C Russell Martin

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    Russell Martin's struggles in 2009 and 2010 were suspicious considering how brightly he shined over his first several seasons.

    The New York Yankees signed him to a low-risk, high-reward contract to be their starting catcher despite his numbers.

    His couldn't quite sustain his hot hitting from April throughout the entire summer, but he was terrific behind the plate. Martin threw out would-be base-stealers at a good percentage and handled a pitching staff that wasn't expected to be so strong.

    Hopefully his resurgence will continue into 2012.

CF Curtis Granderson

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    Until 2011, Curtis Granderson was not a complete player because he couldn't accomplish anything against left-handed pitching.

    Baseball execs took notice of his conditional mediocrity, but general manager Brian Cashman of the New York Yankees figured he would be a good fit, nonetheless.

    With help from hitting coach Kevin Long, Granderson made adjustments. This past season he was actually better against southpaws than in his other plate appearances.

    He experienced success back in 2007 with the Detroit Tigers. Therefore, it can be said that his career has "turned around" with the Yankees.

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