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The New York Yankees 2018 Season Was a Failure

With their loss to the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS, we can officially declare the 2018 season a failure for the New York Yankees.

The 2018 season for the New York Yankees has come to an abrupt end. The Bronx Bombers lost to their arch rival, the Boston Red Sox, in the American League Division Series in just four games and are now eliminated from World Series contention. Boston will go on to face the Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series while New York will be taking an early trip to the golf course. And rightfully so, as the 2018 season should be considered a failed season for the Yankees.

Derek Jeter once said, “if you don’t win a championship, then the season is a failure.” That quote has always been the Yankee way, as we expect them to be competing for a World Series championship every season.

That sentiment was especially true this season, as the Yankees came into the year as the heavy favorites to win the World Series. When you add the reigning National League MVP, Giancarlo Stanton, to a team that went to game seven of the ALCS last year, you should expect to at least go to the Fall Classic, if not win it. Instead, the Yankees didn’t even make it out of the divisional round.

However, it goes much deeper than that. There’s many more reasons other than just a missed World Series that would justify calling this season as a failed one.

Worse Team Than Last Year?

I know what most people will think when reading that subheading, “the Yankees won 100 games this year compared to just 91 last year! How can you say this year’s team was worse than last year?” Yes, the Yankees won nine more games in the 2018 regular season that they did in 2017, but when you replace Matt Holliday, Starlin Castro and Chase Headley/Todd Frazier with Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres, and Miguel Andujar, you should expect to win more games.

When you look beyond the record, you could very easily make the argument that the 2018 team was a downgrade from their 2017 counterpart. The most obvious consideration is how last year’s team made it to the ALCS and fell in seven games to the team that would go on to win the World Series, whereas this season, they were wiped out in just four ALDS games. Granted, the 108 win Red Sox team are an absolute juggernaut who had a historic season, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Yankees failed to not only improve upon, but also to meet their postseason performance from last year.

But it goes beyond the end-of-season results, the Yankees declined in many major statistical categories. In run differential, the Yankees went from +198 in 2017, ranking third in the MLB, to just +182 in 2018, ranking fourth. Their team batting average went from .262, seventh in the majors, to .249, 16th in the majors. Their on base percentage in 2018 was .329, seventh in the majors, down from .339 last year, third in the majors. They finished 2018 with an OPS of .781, down from an OPS of .785. The Yankees did, however, improve in two areas: home runs, from 241 to 267, and slugging percentage, from .447 to .451.

I wrote an article back in September questioning whether or not the Yankees are relying on analytics too much. One of the points I brought up was how the Yankees were building a one dimensional offense — they rely solely on power and home runs. This increase in power production and decline in production everywhere else is a direct result of that. In games three and four of the ALDS, the Yankees only managed to score four runs. The Red Sox shut down the Yankees’ ability to hit home runs; and when they did, the Yankees offense had nowhere else to go.

Players Underperforming

Going into the season, the Yankees were expecting big years from their growing core of young players and veterans. However, several of those players did not live up to expectations to say the least. On the offensive side, both Greg Bird and Gary Sanchez were by far the most disappointing, batting .199 and .186, respectively. The former lost his job to first basemen Luke Voit who became a late season hero. The latter continued to struggle defensively, as he lead the league in passed balls for the second straight year with 18, despite missing a large portion of the season with injury. The two guys who were labeled as some of the best hitters on the team did not live up to expectations at all.

On the pitching side of things, we unfortunately have to keep beating the dead horse that is Sonny Gray. The former Oakland A’s ace was dreadful in his second season with the Yankees, pitching to a 4.90 ERA. He was sent to the bullpen following his start on August 1 against the Baltimore Orioles where he gave up seven earned runs in just 2.2 innings pitched.

However, the biggest culprit on the pitching side is Luis Severino. Going into the season, the Yankees were counting on Sevy to be their dominant ace — the guy who gives his team the chance to win every time he steps onto the mound. In the first half, he was exactly that — pitching to a 1.98 ERA and an early contender for the AL Cy Young.

From July 7th to the remainder of the season, Severino’s play fell off a cliff, as he pitched to an abysmal ERA of 6.87 over that stretch. He started to improve towards the end of September and was excellent in the Wild Card game where he tossed four shutout innings while striking out seven. Nevertheless, Severino’s struggles returned when he pitched game three of the ALDS, where he lasted just 3 innings while allowing six runs on seven hits. You need a consistent and unquestionable ace at the top of your rotation to win in October, and Luis Severino simply wasn’t that.

Joe Girardi 1. Brian Cashman 0.

After their postseason run in 2017, the Yankees made a very tough and controversial decision: they decided to let go of long-time manager, Joe Girardi. Girardi had managed the team for ten seasons with an average team record of 91-71 over that span. He was the manager that lead the Yankees to their last World Series championship in 2009. Despite this, GM Brian Cashman and the Yankees’ front office decided it was time to move on, and elected to not bring him back after his contract was up. After interviewing many candidates, the Yankees decided to hire Aaron Boone as their new manager.

Looking at Boone’s season as a rookie manager, it’s hard to say he did a bad job. He lead his team to the playoffs while winning 100 games on the way. His team should’ve won a division title if not for the fact that a 108 win powerhouse was also in their division. In spite of this, there were many hiccups along the way – hiccups that rarely happened under Girardi. His team seemed to lack fundamentals at times, with many defensive errors and miscues. In addition, Boone received a lot of criticism for leaving in Luis Severino and CC Sabathia for too long in games three and four of the ALDS.

This is where we have to ask the million dollar question: “if the Yankees decided to bring back Joe Girardi, would they still be golfing right now?” You cannot expect a rookie manager like Boone to have the same feel for the game of baseball that Girardi did. I expect Aaron Boone to bounce back from this loss and develop his own personal style and feel for the game. Nevertheless, was it the right move to try an experiment like this when you already had a proven manager that took you to within one game of the World Series last year? Was it the right move to bring in a rookie manager to manage a team that was expected to make it to, if not win the World Series? We all have our reasons to doubt.

Nevertheless, in their first year since 2007 without Girardi at the helm, the Yankees failed to make it as far into October as they did in 2017 with Girardi as manager. Meaning the score so far is Joe Girardi 1, Brian Cashman zip.

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New York & New Jersey Sports Staff Writer, New Jersey Jackals Beat Writer

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