To begin this year, yet another ridiculously good lineup appeared set to take the field for Opening Day. Yet, before the regular season even started the Yankees lost maybe their most important player in their ace Luis Severino. After that, injuries took a domino effect and it was just one after another. Dellin Betances, Greg Bird, Troy Tulowitzki, Miguel Andujar, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez all hit the injured list. In addition to them, Didi Gregorius and Jordan Montgomery were still recovering from last year’s Tommy John surgeries.
So just a few weeks in, instead of boasting one of the best lineups in the sport, Aaron Boone lost his starting catcher, right fielder, third baseman, shortstop, designated hitter, and his ace. Not only did Boone lose roughly half of the team due to injury, but he also lost some of the best players at their respective positions in all of baseball.
This team had cooked up the perfect recipe for disaster. A year that was supposed to be a great chance at taking back the division and winning the franchise’s first World Series in a decade took an abrupt stop and the future looked bleak. Yet, through all of these injuries, Aaron Boone managed new players like DJ LeMahieu, Adam Ottavino, Gio Urshela, and Cameron Maybin, as well as first or second-year players like Gleyber Torres, Luke Voit, Thairo Estrada, Mike Tauchman, Clint Frazier, and Nestor Cortes Jr. to a division lead!
It’s truly incredible what he got this team through, and what he got these players to accomplish. It isn’t easy to manage a team like the Yankees in a sports market like New York. The pressure is always on from the media and from the fans, and there’s no escape for anybody in the organization. In part, this is why Boone was hired. He is an easygoing, friendly guy, and maintains a calm and controlled clubhouse environment. That is exactly what this team needed and I’m not sure many other managers would have been able to handle it as smoothly as Boone.
Not only did Boone get this team to take the division lead, but before they even got their best players back, they had a commanding lead! Gio Urshela, who had a career batting average of .225, turned into an All-Star caliber third baseman. DJ LeMahieu has become maybe the best hitter in the American League. Young guys who came up couldn’t be stopped either. Mike Tauchman had two big hits off Chris Sale early in the year, and Thairo Estrada had a pinch-hit home run. Everybody who was called on answered. This partially has to do with the farm system Brian Cashman has built, but that means nothing if the players they have aren’t ready for the task at hand.
What sticks out the most is the fact that if these injuries happened to any other team, they almost certainly would crumble to the bottom of the league. Take any other roster and strip them of that much production, and it would be nearly impossible for them to win games. Yet this team excelled. Unless the team suffers an utter collapse, Boone is deserving candidate for Manager of the Year.