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For the Yankees, there really is no “I” in “team”

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Without a clear-cut Cy Young, MVP, or Rookie of the Year candidate, the Bombers have found creative ways to succeed.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at New York Yankees Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees have reclaimed the top spot in the AL East, and there is no question that they have been the division’s best team in 2019. Yet unlike other powerhouses in the junior circuit and around the bigs, they haven’t been carried by one particular player.

Yes, DJ LeMahieu has been the Yankees’ top player so far, and there is little question about it. Yes, James Paxton has been the team’s best starter by WAR and probably by the eye test as well. And yes, Aroldis Chapman has stepped up as the unquestioned relief ace.

However, due to the presence of Gleyber Torres, Luke Voit, Mike Tauchman, Cameron Maybin, Giovanny Urshela, Brett Gardner, and many, many other contributors on the offense, it may not be correct to say that LeMahieu absolutely “carried” the team. It has been an absolute group effort.

The same goes for the rotation. Despite their respective home run issues, Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka are virtually tied in fWAR, with 3.3 and 3.2, respectively. Domingo German contributed 2.0 fWAR, so no individual player has been carrying the starting pitching either.

In the bullpen, no fewer than seven pitchers have made substantial contributions, led by the Cuban Missile’s 2.0 fWAR, but followed by the likes of Chad Green (1.3), Tommy Kahnle (1.3), Adam Ottavino (1.2), and Zack Britton (0.8).

All in all, and despite the fantastic campaigns that LeMahieu (5.2 fWAR,) Gleyber Torres (4.0,) and Aaron Judge (4.0) have had, they shouldn’t be considered top MVP candidates because of the presence of Mike Trout (8.6) Alex Bregman (7.6) and Houston’s pitching duo of Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, just to name a few players with arguably stronger cases.

Either Verlander or Cole will run away with the Cy Young, and there doesn’t appear to be a newcomer that can keep up with Yordan Álvarez for the Rookie of the Year honor. If a Yankee is to win individual hardware this year, then Aaron Boone has the best case for Manager of the Year, although he will have competition.

Everything starts at the office

The success of the playoff-bound Yankees has come in no small part thanks to the analytics department. Due to the work being performed at the offices, the team has helped discover (or revamp) the likes of Tauchman, Maybin, Urshela, Voit, Luis Cessa, Chad Green, and others in the last couple of years and, in some cases, months.

The Yankees have been impressive on offense. There is little separation in +wRC between the team’s top hitters. There are 13 batters (!) between Aaron Hicks’ 102 +wRC and Urshela’s 137. By the way, those who thought the latter would be a 3+ fWAR player (he is at 3.2,) raise your hand. What an amazing discovery he has been.

Tauchman has been another crucial player for the 2019 Yankees. Up to this point, he has displayed a 4+ fWAR full-season pace. Whether that is his true-talent level or not remains up for debate, but his contributions have been amazing, and his overall story (he came on a trade for Phil Diehl!) is a resounding success for the team’s analytics department and pro scouting departments.

A myriad of contributors

While it is true that Aaron Judge could have been a very strong MVP candidate with a full healthy season, that was not the case. Instead, the Yankees managed to survive his absence, and that of other hitters and pitchers that were injured for extended stints.

In fact, seven hitters have hit at least 20 home runs, and 13 have surpassed ten dingers. Maybin has nine, so the number can increase in the coming days. Reinforcements are on the horizon, as well, as Edwin Encarnación is expected back soon and there is hope that the team can welcome back Sánchez before the Division Series.

In addition, the impact that a healthy Luis Severino can have for the playoffs is tremendous. For months, the Yankees covered his innings as well as they could, but now he is back and looking to build up stamina.

The 2019 Yankees are the epitome of the “next man up” mentality that, for example, made the Philadelphia Eagles a well-liked team in the NFL a couple of years ago when they won it all. Will the 2019 Yankees experience the same fate?