The idea of the New York Yankees trading away Derek Jeter before the 1996 season seems preposterous, given what we all know about his career and how the team fared in the late 90s and early 2000s, but bear with us here. "What if?" scenarios are easy to do with Out of the Park Baseball, so we used this year's game, OOTP 18, to see what might have happened had the Yankees lost their minds and traded away an iconic player as his career was getting underway.
Let's set the scene. We've created an historical replay in OOTP 18 and taken over the GM reins of the Yankees. Opening Day for the 1996 season is tomorrow, and we're perusing our prospects for the season. Then we consider young Mr. Jeter.
It was suggested to us that we try to trade young Jeter to the Pirates for starting pitcher Denny Neagle and a pair of prospects. While the Yankees weren't hurting for starting pitching at the start of the 1996 season, their staff was a bit on the older side, so Neagle could bring a little youth to the rotation.
My assistant GM, Joe Grant, and I get the Pirates' GM on the horn to see what he thinks of this trade, straight up. (OOTP assigns you a fictional assistant GM who helps guide you through your decision-making.)
So the Pirates are ready to pull the trigger on the trade now, but Joe thinks we can squeeze something extra out of them. "Maybe a prospect," he helpfully suggests, so I peruse the other team's top minor leaguers. Hmmmm .... The Yankees' catchers are getting a bit old and Jason Kendall looks pretty good, so I add him to the deal.
- The Braves successfully defended their 1995 World Series win with another one in 1996. They also won the World Series in 2000 and 2004.
- The Yankees played the Pirates in consecutive World Series, 1998 and 1999, beating them once and losing the second time. The Yankees only played in one other World Series, though, a 2005 trip that saw them fall to the Phillies.
- The Chicago White Sox ended their curse with a vengeance, beating the Pirates in the 2001 World Series and winning two World Series in three years between 2014 and 2016.
- The Red Sox also exorcised their demons with World Series wins in 2006 and 2012, but the Cubs have yet to kick the curse of the goat: they've played in one World Series, 2014, which they lost to their crosstown rivals.
- The Dodgers have won two World Series and the Giants have won one championship.
- The single-season home run record in 68, set by Mark McGwire in 1998, but Hank Aaron remains the career leader in long balls.
- Nomar Garciaparra set a single-season record with 263 hits in 1999.
- Pitching records remain largely intact, although Clayton Kershaw holds single-season marks for winning percentage (29-1, .967), WHIP (0.70), and opponents OBP (.198), all of which he accomplished in 2016 for the White Sox. And Randy Johnson set the single-season record for Ks/9 IP with 12.82 in 1997.