By the late ‘80s, both teams were in decline, the Yankees a little faster, a little further, hitting rock bottom in 1990.
The 1990 Yankees had an interesting cast of characters on a team that fired the manager mid-season on the way to a .414 winning percent. The roster included the likes of Don Mattingly, Steve Sax, Dave Winfield, Deion Sanders, Steve Balboni, Dave Righetti and Dave Eiland.
The Yankees were not only the worst team in baseball in 1990, they were the worst team in the 100 year history of Yankees baseball.
The New York franchise started using the Yankees name in the 1913 season, making 2012 the 100th season.
This franchise defines winning - 27 world championships - 40 pennants - 50 playoff appearances - 84 winning seasons.
The Yankees win one world championship every four years on average, have had only 16 losing seasons, have missed post-season only once in the past 17 years, and has an average win-loss record of 90-66, that's plus 24.
The Yankees' Process
Hitting rock bottom in 1990 gave the Yankees the overall number one pick in the 1991 draft. That draft was a near complete bust. The Yankees turnaround was instead fueled by the 1990 and 1992 drafts.
The 1991 overall #1 pick, Brien Taylor, never made it to the big leagues. Out of 80 draft picks that year, only five made it for a combined 1.0 WAR.
The 1990 Draft was the foundation of their modern dynasty: Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Ricky Ledee, Shane Spencer and amateur free agent Mariano Rivera. With the sixth pick in 1992, they added Derek Jeter.
In 1991 things started to change on the field with the addition an effective closer in Steve Farr and a 22 year old Bernie Williams (signed as an amateur free agent in 1985).
The following years saw their win total slowly increase each year, culminating in winning the World Series in 1996. That is a six-season turnaround, going from worst to first.
The Bottom Line
The Yankees were once as bad as the Royals are now, their Process took six years - because that's what winners do.