For the first time since 2016, it’s looking more and more like the New York Yankees may miss out on the MLB playoffs. The Yankees in this 2021 season have seen highs where they won 13 games in a row, but they also have seen lows where they lost 7 games in a row, 5 games in a row, and 4 games in a row (happened 4 times). It then comes as no surprise that the Yankees opened today a 1/2 game out of the 2nd wild card spot.
This 2021 version of the New York Yankees have certainly under-performed compared to the expectations. Even though this team is 16 games above .500, they have a run differential of +23. As a comparison, the Boston Red Sox, who hold the first wild card spot, have a differential of +74, and the Toronto Blue Jay, who hold the second wild-card spot, have a whopping +174 run differential.
It should surprise no one that the Yankees are 19th in MLB in runs scored. For comparison, the Yankee team in 2018 was 2nd in runs scored and then 1st in 2019. This roster is not much different from those 2018 and 2019 teams so why such a disparity for this 2021? They don’t hit nearly as many home runs. This 2021 Yankees team will hit at least 50 fewer home runs compared to their 2018 (267 HR’s) and 2019 teams (306 HR’s) as they only have 204 at this point in the season.
There was a lot of talk about the construction of the baseball, as well as the entire spider tack fiasco. Both of those factors have not prevented a team like the Blue Jays from hitting 237 HRs in 2021. The biggest difference for this 2021 Yankees team is the hitting by Gleyber Torres, Gary Sanchez, and DJ LeMahieu. This trio combined for 98 home runs and in 2019. That same group has combined for only 38 home runs in 2021 with 12 games left in the season. They are not nearly the same offensive threat they were compared to the 2019 season.
DJ LeMahieu, who was hitting above .300 for half of his career, is nearly 50 points off his 2019 batting average. Gleyber Torres has dropped off significantly since his 2019 season. He is hitting with nowhere near the same power when he had career highs in RBI’s, HR’s, and batting average. Gary Sanchez is off his 2019 season as well, but not as significant as the others.
This lack of offense is also coupled with the fact that their bullpen has also under-performed. The combination of Chapman, Green, and Loaisiga has blown at least 14 saves, and this does not even include the others blown leads in the 7th or 8th innings by bullpen arms in 2021.
So we have a lack of offensive punch, a bullpen that can’t hold leads, and then there is a lack of grit and grind this team is also missing. Here is a startling stat, the Yankees are 1-35 when they are down 4 or more runs. Once this team gets behind, they seem to lack the grit and grind to claw their way back.
If this team does not make the postseason fans hope they will make some more adjustments to get this team back to the dominance it showed in 2018 and 2019. The fear is that Aaron Boone will take the brunt of the blame. Boone is working with the players he is given. It’s clear that the front office gave Boone and fans a bad product to field, and that frankly really hard to watch for 9 innings every day.