The New York Yankees are off to a 6-11 start in the first three weeks of the regular season. They currently place last in the American League East and are currently tied with the Minnesota Twins with the worst record in the AL.
Not the start Yankee fans had hoped for. At all.
In the Aaron Boone era, the Yankees have started slowly in three of four seasons, 2020 being the outlier. The team started 9-9 in 2018 and 6-9 in 2019. Eventually, those teams took off and went off for the races.
In recent memory, this is the Yankees’ worst start since 2016 when they started 9-17. That team eventually missed the playoffs. For the team in 2019, you could at least make the argument that the team was struck with the injury bug. In this case, the team is mostly healthy with some people questioning the team’s grit. Not a good trend.
Not to mention, this is the year that the Yankees will have to make a decision on manager Aaron Boone. Does he stay or go? Not a good start in a contract year.
Let’s look at the offseason that led up to the 2021 season.
After a disappointing finish to an abysmal 2020 season, the Yankees went into the offseason looking for upgrades.
The first thing they did was pick up Zack Britton‘s option for 2022. They also retained righty reliever Luis Cessa with a one-year deal.
After that, the Yankees traded four prospects to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Jameson Taillon. The Bronx Bombers took a huge risk as Taillon has not pitched since August 2019 due to Tommy John surgery.
Then, the Yankees took another risk by signing former Cy Young award winner Corey Kluber to a one-year deal. Kluber pitched only one inning in 2020 due to a torn teres major muscle. Even worse, Kluber threw only 35.2 innings in 2019.
In total, Kluber and Taillon approximately threw 72-73 innings combined in the past two seasons. Wow.
The Yankees then re-signed infielder DJ LeMahieu to a six-year/$90 million deal in January 2021.
They followed up that signing with one-year deals handed out to veteran relief pitchers Darren O’Day and Justin Wilson.
They also re-signed Brett Gardner, because why not?
What Has Led To The Yankees’ Slow Start?
The Yankees obviously stand at 6-11 as previously mentioned. To me, the reason behind the Yankees’ slow start is a mixture of things. Those things would be inconsistent hitting, pitching, and fielding. Here are some statistics to describe where the Yankees rank in each facet of the game.
Team Hitting Statistics:
Team Batting Average: .205 (29th in MLB)
Home Runs: 17 (23rd in MLB)
Runs: 59 (28th in MLB)
On Base Percentage: .296 (24th in MLB)
Slugging Percentage: .334 (Last in MLB)
On Base Plus Slugging Percentage: .630 (Last in MLB)
Team Pitching Statistics:
Earned Run Average: 3.41 (6th in MLB)
Hits Allowed: 125 (7th in MLB)
Home Runs Allowed: 22 (T-9th in MLB)
Strikeouts: 188 (2nd in MLB)
Walks Allowed: 49 (5th in MLB)
Opposing Batting Average: .219 (7th in MLB)
Team Fielding Statistics:
Errors: 13 (T-8th in MLB)
Fielding Percentage: .978 (25th in MLB)
Putouts: 459 (17th in MLB)
Surprisingly, the pitching statistics are the most positive out of the three facets. I simply believe the Yankees are fundamentally defunct when it comes to hitting and fielding. You obviously see the statistics. No one knows what’s wrong with the fundamentals specifically. That’s for the Yankees and hitting coach Marcus Thames to figure out.
Yankees will have to figure out what’s wrong with their fielding as well. Defense wins games.
Is It Time To Worry About the Yankees?
If I were the fans, I’d take a wait-and-see approach. Yankees fans are flipping out and are already hopping on the “Fire Boone” train. To be quite honest, manager Aaron Boone can only real them in so much. When will it time for the players to be blamed? They’re the ones on the playing field. Yes, Boone is the manager and needs to get the most out of his players. But, the players have to have that spark and it seems they don’t have it.
The manager doesn’t have as much control over the team anymore. All they do is answer questions and try to get the most out of their players. The manager isn’t in charge of in-game decisions like pinch-hitting and pitching changes.
There is no question the Yankees will get hot at some time. But when? Will it be too late? Is it time to question the leadership in the clubhouse? Is there no passion or fire?
Stay tuned, Yankees fans.