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Yankees playoffs: Who was the team’s Least Valuable Player?

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While it’s hard to single any one player out, the second baseman wasn’t helping on either side of the ball.

League Championship Series - Houston Astros v New York Yankees - Game Four Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Well, here we are. I was hoping I wouldn’t have to write this post for another week or two, but alas. While the 2017 season ended disappointingly for the Yankees, we should remember it fondly. Nobody honestly expected the the Bombers to compete, let alone advance as far as they did. It was a season filled with positives.

The postseason run for the Yankees was as exciting as it was heartbreaking. It was exhilarating and soul-sucking. As Jake Devin said last week, the playoffs represented the team’s regular season in a microcosm. When the Yankees won, they did it together. When they failed, they did it together.

Thanks to that, it’s hard to find any one individual to shoulder the blame for their elimination. What is easy, though, is finding the player who provided the least value to the team. For the Yankees, that person was none other than Starlin Castro, second baseman extremely ordinaire.

Again, Castro isn’t the reason the Yankees didn’t advance. That was a joint effort, but he didn’t really help. Sure, Aaron Hicks’ bat completely disappeared in the ALCS and the Yankees might as well have been playing National League baseball as having a designated hitter mostly hurt the team. Castro’s problems, though, went beyond his bat and that’s why he gets singled out here.

Castro did have some good hits in the ALDS against Cleveland’s baseball team, so it’s not like he didn’t help out at all. Time after time again against the Astros, though, it seemed whenever there was a chance for Castro to come up huge and bring in a run, he was there flailing at a ball way off the plate. He hit a paltry .208/.269/.250 with just one extra-base hit — a double — in those seven games.

As if his sleeping bat wasn’t enough, he hurt the team on the other side as well. Remember Castro was a shortstop when he was with the Cubs and has really only been playing second base since last year. His relative inexperience really showed in this series. Look back at the wild comeback in Game Four of the ALCS. Before the Yankees rallied to take that game and even the series, Castro looked like he had no interest in trying to make that happen.

In the fourth inning, he badly misplayed a Carlos Correa grounder, letting it go right through his legs. Fortunately, it was with one out and Sonny Gray was able to get the next two batters out. That could have been a lot worse.

The miscues didn’t stop there, though. He slipped again in the seventh inning. Castro was on the grass in short right to shift on Brian McCann when McCann hit a groundball that went right at his glove. With Marwin Gonzalez already on second, he was able to score as the ball got far enough away from Castro. Fortunately, the Yankees scored six runs between the seventh and the eighth to steal back a win, but they did so in spite of Castro.

At least with the likes of Hicks, his defense was helping the team. Obviously he has a much stronger arm than Jacoby Ellsbury’s dino arms, and against a Twins and Cleveland team that likes to run, it made sense to have him out there. Plus, he hit well in the Wild Card Game and ALDS. The overall anemic DH spot was only hurting on one side of the ball. Castro cost the team on both sides of the ball and that just can’t happen. Especially in the playoffs.

Still though, as I said earlier, it’s unfair to blame him for the team going home. There are many reasons for that. Overall though, Castro needs to figure it out and play better. Especially if he wants to stick around for a long time. Gleyber Torres is coming and sooner or later the Yankees are going to have to make a decision. This postseason just didn’t help Castro’s case.