I could try to work this into a piece about how Derek Jeter’s drive for 3,000 hits inspired the Yankees to hang close to a Red Sox team that, at first glance, seemed much superior. But I won’t because it’s obviously not true. I could make a case that Curtis Granderson, Robbie Cano, Mark Teixeira, and, of course, Mariano Rivera deserve this honor. But the truth is that for most of the 2011 season, the Yankee who meant the most all by himself, the one who made the most difference, is C.C. Sabathia. Although he was clearly a lesser pitcher the last half of the season, he still wound up with a 19-8 record, good for number two in the league, behind only Justin Verlander, and he did the bullpen a favor by averaging over seven innings per start. He wasn’t just the Yankees ace; he was the only reliable starting pitcher on the staff.