The Yankees, it goes without saying, have not had a successful season thus far. They have been riddled with injury after injury. During a time when the 2019 Yankees are below .500 and are looking up at the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East standings, they’re going to need certain players to step up to help them get out of this funk.
With Greg Bird showing, yet again, that he cannot stay healthy, coming down with another significant injury, the Yankees need their surprise acquisition from last summer now more than ever. If you don’t recall, on July 29th of last year, the Yankees jettisoned LHP Chasen Shreve and RHP Giovanny Gallegos and in exchange for first baseman Luke Voit from the Cardinals in a trade just before the deadline.
Brian Cashman hit the jackpot again as Voit became one of the best hitters in baseball down the stretch. In only 39 games with the Yankees, Voit batted .333 with 14 homers, to go along with a .689 slugging and a 1.095 OPS. He gave the team a huge boost last year, but given they finished 10 games above the sixth-place team in the AL, it wasn’t necessarily a needed boost. Now, the deadline move from last season stands as one of the most important figures on the team.
So far in 2019, Voit’s batting average isn’t exactly popping off the charts, but in the small sample size that the 2019 season has given us, Voit has made some subtle improvements since getting traded to New York last year. To begin with, Voit’s strikeout percentage has lowered from 26.7% in 2018 to 23.4% so far this season. He has smacked four homers thus far, with all leaving the bat over at over 100 mph.
On top of consistent play from Voit, the Yankees are obviously going to need more. With all the injuries the team has suffered, this is an odd time to be a Yankee. That’s why, to get out of this hole that they’re in, they’re going to need some backbone. I can see that coming from two people specifically; CC Sabathia and Aaron Boone.
Everyone knows what CC means to this team in terms of leadership. Countless times, the younger players, and even other veterans like Brett Gardener, have referred to Sabathia as the clubhouse leader. With his recent return to the team, the Yankees now get their staff leader back and on the mound every five days. He brings the energy that this team feeds off of, and they’re going to need him a lot in the next month or two.
Second, from a slightly different perspective, the Yankees coaching staff plays a big part in how the team comes out and performs on a daily basis through times like this. Aaron Boone specifically plays such a critical role in how quickly (or if) this team will be able to get out of its rut. Given the proliferation of analytics, he has fewer tactical decisions to make on the field, but is mainly tasked with handling the media and managing the clubhouse.
It’s hard to fathom the fate that the Yankees have suffered so far with the injury bug, but the importance of staying focused and moving forward as possible must be instilled in the players’ minds. The people in the locker room know this, of course, but it’s up to Boone to manage a clubhouse that includes plenty of youth through the ups and downs of a rare circumstance like this. Boone wasn’t necessarily brought into be a tactician; rather weathering times like these is exactly what he was hired to do.
The Yankees may not just flip the switch in one game, it could take some time, however, besides your go-to contributors like Judge, what the Yankees get from Voit and CC on the field and from Boone in the clubhouse could determine the way this team progresses through the rest of 2019.