After 60 games played in the 2021 season, we normally wouldn’t be overly concerned about the standings in the American League East Division.
But then we looked at them.
While the Yankees sat in fourth place (31-29, .517), they were only 6.5 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays (38-23, .623). The Boston Red Sox are behind the Rays in second place (37-23, .610), and the Toronto Blue Jays are third (30-27, .526).
With another 100 or so games left to play, the Savages can easily catch and vanquish all three teams, end up in first place in the division, drive through the playoffs, and become World Series champions again.
Indeed, Yankees manager Aaron Boone continues to tell the media – as he did Sunday night when interviewed on-air by ESPN’s Matt Vasgersian, Alex Rodriguez, and Buster Olney during the Red Sox game – the team is due to emerge from their current malaise and begin hitting any day now. Thus, fans have nothing to worry about.
Yankee fans are incredibly loyal and possess strong emotional feelings about the Bombers. We deeply love the team and very much want them to return to the World Series again soon. Given the talent on the team, we believe that 2021 is our year.
While we have an enduring, deep-seated attachment to the Bombers and have high hopes for this season, we are not stupid. We are very savvy baseball fans.
After watching the horrendous play by the Yanks against the Detroit Tigers, Rays, and Red Sox, it is now clear that the Yanks are in deep trouble. We now must come to the conclusion, however painful, that what we have witnessed so far in 2021 is probably who the team really is. And it may very well be the case that the team may not be able to turn things around.
Boone’s repeated pronouncements suggesting that happy days are just around the corner are beginning to wear on fans. Given the consistent terrible play we’ve seen so far this season, we should no longer put any faith in what Boone is promising. Instead, the dark days of poor play and games lost which should have been won could easily continue.
Historically, the 2021 Bombers are one of the worst Yankees teams that have ever graced the baseball diamond. It will be miraculous if the team even finishes the season with a .500 won-loss record, let alone makes it to the playoffs. I do hope I am wrong.
How did we get to this point? How did this happen? For those who have bought into Boone’s promises that things will get better any day now, there are three reasons why fans should finally doubt what he is saying and be extremely worried about the club’s play for the remainder of the season.
3. Continued Offensive Struggles — Per Metrics and the Eye Test
As fans are clearly aware, the boys from the Bronx are not hitting well in 2021. Even when they have won games and managed a short and semi-competent winning streak, they have simply been unable to drive in runs consistently with men on base. They cannot string hits together, and home runs are few and far between this season. The “Bomb” has been taken out of “the Bombers.”
Heading into the weekend, the Yanks ranked 14th in the American League in runs, 12th in batting average, 13th in slugging, and 11th in OPS. In fact, the current lineup is one of the worst lineups in decades. The club’s 3.71 runs per game are its lowest since 1972.
Further, the Yanks’ .228 batting average and 7.4 hits per game are the Savages’ lowest totals since 1968. Including the Red Sox series, the Yanks have grounded into 0.97 double plays per game, the highest among all 30 MLB teams.
All these batting totals go back to the gloomy days of the pre-Steinbrenner era when CBS owned the franchise.
Based on these data points, one might wonder how it is possible that the Yanks are even still a few games over .500…but who knows how long the club will even be able to play at this level?
Ironically, thank goodness for the Yankee pitching staff, which we worried about going into the regular season. At the start of the Red Sox series, the Yanks had the best ERA in the AL, generating the least number of walks and the second-fewest hits in the league while producing the most strikeouts.
Of course, Corey Kluber’s injury and his anticipated long stint on the IL is a massive blow to the team. Without him in the starting rotation and a suitable replacement, the Yanks’ won-loss record will likely suffer.