Remember how some New York Yankees fans thought others were “taking it too far” by saying the 2021 team was “back” to ruin this special 2022 season? Well, if you doubted that take then, perhaps manager Aaron Boone can be the final piece of evidence to convince you that this reverse metamorphosis is as real as it can possibly be.
The Bombers completed their west coast road trip on Wednesday night with another devastating loss to finish with a LOSING RECORD against the LA Angels and Oakland A’s. They went 3-4 with a golden chance to extend their dwindling AL East lead. They didn’t.
Now, in our usual world of Yankees coverage, we’d typically place most of the blame on Gerrit Cole, who once again unraveled at the sight of one inconsistency because he can never have an outing that doesn’t start at Point A and arrive at Point B without a single interruption.
But Boone flipped the script for Yankees fans by defending Isiah Kiner-Falefa in the postgame. In the bottom of the sixth inning with a runner on second, one out and Mike Trout at the plate, IKF booted a routine grounder off the bat of the Angels star to bring the go-ahead run to the plate.
That go-ahead run was Shohei Ohtani, who got ahead in the count 2-0 and then blasted a Cole fastball into dead center field to give LA a 3-2 lead, which ended up being the final score.
Yankees’ Aaron Boone insanely defended shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa
Now, granted, IKF was hard on himself in the postgame, which is the only positive aspect of this. But words don’t mean anything when this fatalistic of an error also happens to occur during a Mike Trout at-bat. You simply have to get Mike Trout out. He’s hard enough to get out.
Even worse than the loss, however, was Boone’s commentary in the postgame, as he backed IKF in a way fans are sick of hearing. Earlier in the year? Sure. He was getting acclimated to playing shortstop in the Bronx and needed to be propped up.
In September? Absolutely not. Don’t tell us we’re watching something we aren’t.
Truly INSANE. Though most metrics actually support IKF’s defense (2.0 dWAR, 11 Defensive Runs Saved, 2.4 UZR/150, 3.1 FanGraphs Def), he’s been good for -2 Outs Above Average as well as 12 errors in 117 games. He makes a number of highlight-reel plays, but then he botches routine ones (especially coming in on the ball) and draws the ire of the fanbase when it cost the Yankees the game (it was only a matter of time before one of those errors finally did).
The fact of the matter is this: if the Yankees were going to have a shortstop hit .261 with a .625 OPS and 81 OPS+, that shortstop needed to be a lockdown defender. IKF isn’t a natural shortstop and is a slightly above-average defender. It’s just not what the Yankees need.
The problem isn’t necessarily IKF. The Yankees acquired him and fans knew exactly what he was. The problem is the organization defending him when it’s not warranted as well as not making the necessary prospect promotions to kick him aside and see if something else works. The Yankees love being stuck in neutral, so get used to it.