By Andrew Najjar & Adrian Flynn
On October 9th, the New York Yankees were eliminated from the playoffs in a best of five Division Series by the Boston Red Sox, three games to one. They got notoriously blown out in Game 3 at Yankee Stadium 16-1, and then were edged out in Game 4 by a score of 4-3. Many fans were disappointed, and some even called for manager Aaron Boone’s firing. However, despite the early exit from the postseason, the Yankees still had a remarkable 2018 season.
Yankees relief pitcher Dellin Betances recently stated, “If we don’t win… it’s not a great year for us.” Is this really true? The Yankees still have a stacked, young roster. The Yankees bullpen was second to nobody. The Yankees broke MLB records and several franchise records. The 2018 Yankees hold the record for most home runs in a single season, recording 267 homeruns.
A year ago, the team wrapped up the 2017 season with a record of 91-71 and had an away record of 40-41, their overall record ranked 8th best among all MLB teams. This record secured them the number 1 seed in the wild card game and home field advantage against the Minnesota Twins. Though, the Yankees played in the wild card game against the Oakland A’s this postseason, the Bombers managed to improve their overall record to 100-62 and improve their away record to 47-34, their overall record ranked 3rd best among all MLB teams. They managed to boost their record up by nine games. The last time the Yankees had a 100 plus win season was back in 2009, of course the Yankees went onto defeat the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series that year.
After the Yankees lost to the Astros in the 2017 ALCS, the Yankees organization understood that only a few more additional pieces were needed to create a championship team. With that said, the Yankees made notable offseason moves. The Bombers added the big bat of Giancarlo Stanton, who had a fantastic year for the Miami Marlins in 2017. He batted .286, tagged 59 home runs, and batted in 132 RBI’s, all of which led him to win National League MVP. The addition of Stanton had Yankee fans buzzing. With Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius, and Giancarlo Stanton, the Yankees looked invincible.
After the addition of Stanton, the Yankees made a surprising move in the firing of manager Joe Girardi. Girardi managed the Yankees from 2008-2017, lead the Yankees to a World Series win and overlooked multiple winning seasons. The Yankees went further than people anticipated in the 2017 postseason, which some thought were clear indications that Girardi would remain the manager. However, after losing to Astros, the organization believed a change was needed.
The Yankees went out and scooped up Aaron Boone, an ex-player, to manage. Boone came into his position with immense pressure, as the expectations of the Yankees were through the roof. Boone, just like Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar, was a rookie. A few questionable pitching decisions in the ALDS against the Red Sox should not eliminate the success he had as a rookie manager in the eyes of Yankee fans.
In Boone’s first season as the Yankees manager, the team managed to record 100 wins and finished third overall in the entire league. The Yankees have one of the youngest rosters in the MLB. In fact, the Yankees had 2 rookies and 2 sophomores in their starting lineup. Additionally, the Yankees ace Luis Severino is only 24 years old. With such a young team, much guidance is needed and Boone secured a trust between him and his players in just one season. Even though Boone couldn’t bring the Yankees their 28th championship this year, he still managed to establish a new identity for the Yankees. Boone has set the bar extremely high for the 2019 season and has made it clear that the Yankees will be back for another run at the World Series.
This season, however, was also plagued by injuries to many of the Yankees starters. The starting catcher, Gary Sanchez, only played 89 games due to a groin injury that was re-aggravated in July and had a major impact on his defense and speed. He briefly came back to form in Game 2 of the Division Series, hitting two home runs at Fenway, but his season average of .186 still is a marker of his injury. The current pride of the Yankees, right fielder Aaron Judge, was hit by pitch on July 26th and fractured a bone in his wrist, resulting in him missing almost two months of games in the latter half of the season. Shortstop Didi Gregorius, who won AL Player of the Month in April, also missed some playing time after he tore some cartilage in his right wrist sliding into home plate on September 22nd. Luckily, his injury was not as serious as was thought, and he was able to return for the playoffs, albeit a little rusty. Flamethrowing closer Aroldis Chapman was placed on the 10-day disabled list due to left knee tendinitis on August 22nd, and even when he came back he was not at 100%. Additionally, infielder Gleyber Torres and outfielder Aaron Hicks missed a few games here and there while dealing with muscle tightness. As with all injuries in sports, it’s impossible to say what could’ve been if they didn’t happen. However, it is not controversial to say that with all of these players being healthy, the Yankees could’ve been a stronger ballclub.
The nature of the New York Yankees as a team that defines success solely in championships will require that they improve for the 2019 season. Right now, the Yankees are looking to acquire a few starting pitchers to deepen their rotation and possibly add on a few more utility players to strengthen their bench. With these additions, the few weaknesses that the team has will be addressed. This is a team that has many positive takeaways to build from in 2019. This is just the start of a new generation of Bombers. A World Series isn’t won overnight or by one player or one manager, it is won by a team of brilliant players and coaches; the Yankees have all of these. The bar has been set and now is not a time to focus on what was lost, but on what was gained this past season.