The New York Yankees began the 2000 campaign seeking to become the first team since the 1972-1974 Oakland Athletics to win three consecutive world championships. The Yankees encountered numerous obstacles as they continued to pursue their ultimate goal, not the least of which involved an aging starting rotation and a general feeling of complacency. Advancing age adversely affected the performances of 34-year-old Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez and 37-year-old David Cone, who went a combined 16-27 over the course of the season. Andy Pettitte and 37-year-old Roger Clemens remained the team’s only effective starters, with Pettitte leading the staff with 19 victories.
Meanwhile, the Yankees seemed to lose much of their edge as the season wore on. After remaining in contention for the American League’s best record until the beginning of September, the Yankees won only 13 of their last 31 games, to finish the year with a record of just 87-74. New York’s late-season slide included a horrific final three weeks during which the team lost 15 of 18 contests.
Fortunately for the Yankees, they earlier built up a huge lead in the A.L. East that enabled them to finish first in the division, 2 ½ games ahead of the runner-up Boston Red Sox, and 4 ½ games in front of the third-place Toronto Blue Jays.
The quartet of Paul O’Neill, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, and Derek Jeter paced New York on offense. O’Neill hit 18 homers, drove in 100 runs, and batted .283. Posada homered 28 times, knocked in 86 runs, scored 92 others, and batted .287. Williams batted .307, scored 108 runs, and led the team with 30 home runs and 121 runs batted in. Jeter placed among the league leaders with a .339 batting average, 119 runs scored, and 201 hits.
Although the second-place Red Sox failed to advance to the postseason as a wild card for the first time in three years, their two best players had fabulous seasons. Nomar Garciaparra hit 21 homers, drove in 96 runs, scored 104 others, and led the league with a .372 batting average. Pedro Martinez earned his second straight Cy Young trophy by compiling a record of 18-6 and leading all A.L. hurlers with a 1.74 ERA, 284 strikeouts, and four shutouts. Boston also received solid efforts from Carl Everett and Derek Lowe. Everett batted .300 and led the club with 34 homers and 108 runs batted in. Lowe topped the circuit with 42 saves.
The third-place Blue Jays had the division’s top offensive performer in Carlos Delgado. The slugging first baseman placed among the league leaders with 41 home runs, 137 runs batted in, 115 runs scored, and a .344 batting average, and he led the A.L. with 57 doubles. Teammate David Wells led the league with 20 victories and nine complete games.
New York’s poor play over the season’s final month allowed the Chicago White Sox to finish with the American League’s best record. Ending Cleveland’s five-year reign as A.L. Central champions, Chicago captured the division title by concluding the campaign with a record of 95-67 that left them five games ahead of the runner-up Indians in the final standings.
Both Chicago and Cleveland featured outstanding offenses and mediocre pitching staffs. While the White Sox led the American League with 978 runs scored, they finished fourth in the circuit with a team ERA of 4.66. Mike Sirotka was their most effective starter, posting 15 victories and an ERA of 3.79. On offense, Ray Durham batted .280 and scored 121 runs. Jose Valentin hit 25 homers, drove in 92 runs, and scored 107 others. Paul Konerko batted .298, homered 21 times, and knocked in 97 runs. Carlos Lee batted .301, hit 24 homers, drove in 92 runs, and crossed the plate 107 times. Magglio Ordonez left the yard 32 times, knocked in 126 runs, scored 102 others, and batted .315. Frank Thomas earned a second-place finish in the A.L. MVP voting by placing among the league leaders with 43 home runs, 143 runs batted in, 115 runs scored, 44 doubles, a .328 batting average, a .436 on-base percentage, and a .625 slugging average.
The Indians also featured a potent offense, placing second in the league with 950 runs scored. Roberto Alomar batted .310, drove in 89 runs, scored 111 others, and stole 39 bases. Travis Fryman hit 22 homers, drove in 106 runs, and batted .321. Jim Thome homered 37 times, knocked in 106 runs, and scored 106 others. Manny Ramirez led the team with 38 homers and 122 runs batted in, finished third in the league with a .351 batting average, and topped the circuit with a .697 slugging average. However, the Indians’ below-average pitching prevented them from making the playoffs, as they finished just one game behind the Seattle Mariners in the race for the wild card.
The Mariners advanced to the postseason for the first time in three years by compiling a record of 91-71 that left them just ½-game behind the first-place Oakland Athletics in the A.L. West. Aaron Sele served as Seattle’s top starting pitcher, leading the club with 17 victories. Meanwhile, with the Mariners having dealt Ken Griffey Jr. to the Cincinnati Reds prior to the start of the season, Edgar Martinez and Alex Rodriguez carried the offense. Martinez batted .324, hit 37 homers, scored 100 runs, and led the league with 145 runs batted in. Rodriguez earned a third-place finish in the MVP balloting by batting .316 and placing among the league leaders with 41 home runs, 132 runs batted in, and 134 runs scored. They received help from Mike Cameron and John Olerud. Cameron hit 19 homers, scored 96 runs, and stole 24 bases. Olerud drove in 103 runs and batted .285.
The third-place Anaheim Angels, who finished 9 ½ games off the pace, received outstanding performances from third baseman Troy Glaus and outfielder Darin Erstad. Glaus led the American League with 47 home runs, knocked in 102 runs, scored another 120, and batted .284. Erstad hit 25 homers, drove in 100 runs, scored 121 others, finished second in the league with a .355 batting average, and topped the circuit with 240 hits.
The A’s managed to win the division title primarily on the strength of their solid starting pitching and their outstanding young infield. Tim Hudson compiled a record of 20-6, to tie for the league lead in wins. Gil Heredia and Kevin Appier each posted 15 victories. On offense, third baseman Eric Chavez hit 26 homers, drove in 86 runs, scored 89 others, and batted .277. Shortstop Miguel Tejada hit 30 home runs, knocked in 115 runs, scored 105 times, and batted .275. First baseman Jason Giambi earned A.L. MVP honors by scoring 108 runs, placing among the league leaders with 43 home runs, 137 runs batted in, a .333 batting average, and a .647 slugging average, and topping the circuit with 137 walks and a .476 on-base percentage. Giambi’s extraordinary month of September enabled the Athletics to mount a late-season surge that brought them their first division title in eight years. The slugging first baseman hit 13 home runs, drove in 31 runs, and batted .405 during the final month of the regular season.
The Athletics subsequently gave the Yankees all they could handle in their Division Series matchup, finally falling to New York in five games, even though they outscored their more experienced opponents by a combined margin of 23-19 over the course of the series. Meanwhile, the Mariners swept the White Sox in the other Division Series, holding Chicago’s powerful lineup to a team batting average of only .185 in the three games.
New York started off slowly against Seattle in the ALCS, failing to score a run in the first 17 innings. The Yankees finally broke through against Seattle pitching in the eighth inning of Game Two, scoring seven runs to even the Series at one game apiece. They then won each of the next two contests, with Roger Clemens pitching a masterful 15-strikeout, one-hit shutout in Game Four. After dropping Game Five in Seattle, the Yankees won their third straight American League pennant when ALCS MVP David Justice put them ahead to stay in Game Six with a three-run upper deck homer during a six-run seventh inning.
The city of New York then experienced its first Subway Series since 1956, when the Yankees squared off against the Mets in the Fall Classic. Although the Yankees’ winning streak in World Series play ended at 14 games in Game Three, they went on to defeat the Mets in five games to capture their third straight world championship, and the 26th in franchise history.
Other notable events from around the league and players who distinguished themselves over the course of the season included:
• February 10 - The Seattle Mariners accommodated center fielder Ken Griffey, Jr. by trading him to his hometown Cincinnati Reds in exchange for Mike Cameron, Brett Tomko, Antonio Pérez, and Jake Meyer.
• April 11 - The Detroit Tigers defeated the Seattle Mariners, 5–2, in the first game played at Comerica Park in Detroit.
• April 15 – Cal Ripken, Jr. collected his 3,000th hit during a 6-4 Baltimore Orioles victory over the Minnesota Twins.
• May 23 – During a 4-2 loss to Baltimore, Seattle’s Rickey Henderson drew his 2,000th career walk, making him just the third player in major league history to reach that plateau (Babe Ruth and Ted Williams were the first two).
• July 6 - The American Sportscasters Association named Dodgers legend Vin Scully the number one sportscaster of the 20th century. Howard Cosell finished second in the balloting, followed by Mel Allen and Red Barber.
• November 18 - The Seattle Mariners signed Japanese star outfielder Ichiro Suzuki to a three-year contract.
• December 11 - The Texas Rangers signed free agent shortstop Alex Rodriguez to a record $252 million, 10-year contract. It was, at the time, the richest contract in the history of professional sports.
• Troy Glaus (47), Mo Vaughn (36), Garret Anderson (35), and Tim Salmon (34) gave the Angels the first quartet of teammates in American League history to surpass 30 homers in the same season.
• Derek Jeter became the first player to win the All-Star Game and World Series MVP Awards in the same season.
• Yankee closer Mariano Rivera set a new major league record for most consecutive scoreless innings pitched in postseason play, with 33-1/3.
• Japanese-born right-hander Kazuhiro Sasaki earned A.L. Rookie of the Year honors by saving 37 games for Seattle.
• Years of labor strife with umpires finally resulted in the dissolution of the Major League Umpires Association, which came after the union miscalculated its bargaining strength.
• American League umpire John Hirschbeck was voted the first president of the World Umpires Association, which promised to work more closely with MLB.
• The Hall of Fame inducted Tony Perez, Carlton Fisk, Sparky Anderson, 19th-century star Bid McPhee, and Negro League outfielder Norman “Turkey” Stearnes.
• Jermaine Dye hit 33 home runs, drove in 118 runs, scored 107 others, and batted .321 for the Kansas City Royals, who finished fourth in the A.L. Central, 18 games behind first-place Chicago.
• Kansas City teammate Johnny Damon batted .327, placed second in the league with 214 hits, and topped the circuit with 136 runs scored and 46 stolen bases.
• Royals teammate Mike Sweeney hit 29 homers, scored 105 runs, and finished among the league leaders with 144 runs batted in, 206 hits, and a .333 batting average. By doing so, he became the first A.L. player to hit .330, collect 200 hits, and surpass 144 RBIs since Al Rosen in 1953.
- David Justice won the ALCS MVP
- Derek Jeter won the Babe Ruth Award
- Pedro Martinez won the Cy Young
- Carlos Delgado won the Hank Aaron Award
- Jerry Manuel won the Mgr of the year
- Jason Giambi won the MVP
- Todd Jones won the Rolaids Relief
- Kazuhiro Sasaki won the Rookie of the Year
- Pedro Martinez won the TSN Pitcher of the Year
- Aaron Sele, Alex Rodriguez, Andy Pettitte, Atlanta Braves, Barry Bonds, Barry Zito, Bernie Williams (1970 Outfielder), Cal Ripken, Jr., Carl Everett, Carlos Delgado, Carlos Lee, Chicago White Sox, Darin Erstad, David Justice, Derek Jeter, Derek Lee, Edgar Martinez, Eric Chavez, Frank Thomas, Gil Heredia, Jason Giambi, Jermaine Dye, Jim Thome, John Olerud, Johnny Damon, Jose Valentin, Jose Vizcaino, Kazuhiro Sasaki, Ken Griffey, Jr., Kevin Appier, Luis Sojo, Magglio Ordonez, Manny Ramirez, Miguel Tejada, Mike Piazza, Mike Sirotka, Mike Sweeney, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Nomar Garciaparra, Oakland Athletics, Paul Konerko, Pedro Martinez, Ray Durham, Rickey Henderson, Roberto Alomar, Roger Clemens, Tim Hudson, Travis Fryman, Troy Glaus