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Perspectives: September 6, 2021

by Paul Semendinger

September 6, 2021

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If the season ended today, would the Yankees’ 2021 season be a success, a failure, or something in between? There have been great moments. There have been fun moments.

And there has been a lot of frustration.

If the season ended today, and YOU were making the decisions, would you bring back Aaron Boone on another contract? I would assume that Boone would ask for three years, at minimum. Should the Yankees invest another three years in Aaron Boone as the leader of this team?

I think to answer that question one has to ask a few simple questions:

Is the style and type of play and performance from the Yankees over the last four years the model the Yankees want to follow going forward for the next three (plus) years?

Have the players performed and grown under the manager?

Has the manager improved?

Those are the questions the Yankees will have to ask and answer.

For Aaron Boone, there have been some great high points, and many low points. What will make this very tricky is the fact that for some people the answer to the questions above will all be “YES!” To others, they will emphatically reply, “No.”

There is no clear cut answer.

This will be one of the big questions this off-season. It will really be THE question.

What will make the question even more challenging is if the Yankees do hold off and make the post season.

It’ll be even more difficult if they win the Wild Card game.

And it will be more difficult yet if they reach the World Series.

***

73-61 vs 78-56.

(NOTE – All of the following stats do not include yesterday’s loss. I just realized after finishing this piece that Baseball-Reference’s data did not include yesterday’s game.)

According to Baseball-Reference, the 2021 Yankees Pythagorean Win-Loss record should be 73-61.

Aaron Boone’s Yankees are playing better than that.

Much better.

They’re 78-56.

Does that mean the manager is doing a good job?

It could.

An argument can be made that Aaron Boone’s Yankees are out performing their talent level.

If that’s the case, the credit belongs to the manager.

***

The Yankees have only 28 games left.

If they play .500 ball, they’ll end with just 92 wins. That’s not good enough.

If the Yankees play .571 ball (16-12), they’ll end with 94 wins. Will that be good enough?

As it stands right now, the Yankees are on pace to end the season with 94 wins.

Is 94 wins a good enough year to bring back the manager for another three (plus) years?

These a very difficult questions the Yankees will have to answer.

***

I think it’s safe to say that the Yankees, now 7.5 games out of first place, will not win the division.

As it stands right now, the Yankees are just a half-game over the Red Sox for the first spot in the Wild Card standings.

It is possible, very possible, that the Yankees, if they make the Wild Card, will have to play that game in Fenway Park.

If they lose that game, should the manager be brought back on another multi-year contract?

***

People will look to the Yankees’ 13-game winning streak as proof that this team is good and can win big games.

The Yankees did play great for those two weeks. That streak was a lot of fun.

In a way that 13 game streak is going to define not just the 2021 Yankees, but the 2022 (and beyond) Yankees.

If that winning streak demonstrates to the Yankees that Aaron Boone is a good manager, then he’ll stay.

If not, he’ll go.

Those thirteen games will define this team – and the teams going forward.

Two weeks that will define a season and a franchise’s immediate future…

If a 13-game streak indicates greatness, Boone stays.

If a 13-game streak indicates a lucky and fortunate hot streak…Boone might not remain as manager.

Take away those 13 games, and where are the 2021 Yankees?

The 2021 Yankees’ overall record is what it is in large part because of those 13 games.

If the Yankees went 8-5 rather than 13-0 over that stretch, they’d be out of the playoff picture right now. If they went 8-5 in that stretch, the Yankees would be tied with the Blue Jays and looking up at the Red Sox, A’s… and Mariners.

Those 13 games really are the difference.

***

About winning streaks…

The team that had baseball’s longest winning streak (all-time) was the 1916 New York Giants. That team won 26 consecutive games. Amazing.

That team also ended the season with just 86 wins and finished the season in fourth place.

I guess the team wasn’t that good. That winning streak was not an indication of the team’s true talent or ability level.

In the modern era, the teams with the next-longest winning streaks were the 2017 Indians (22 games), 1935 Cubs (21 games), and 2002 A’s (20 games).

What do they all have in common?

None won a World Series.

***

What defines a good team? Is it the ability win blowout games or is it the ability to win one-run games (or is it something else)?

In one-run games, the 2021 Yankees are 23-12 (.622). The Tampa Bay Rays are only 17-18 (.486).

But in blowouts (games won or lost by five or more runs), the Yankees are 15-12 (.556) while the Rays are 31-12 (.721).

When the Yankees win this year, they seem to just win. It always seems to be a struggle.

When the Rays win, they seem to win. Period.

To me that indicates that the Yankees have been luckier than the Rays, but that the Rays have been the better team.

***

The Yankees have 28 games to go.

These 28 games will decide so much.

I don’t think, at this point, that the A’s or the Mariners can catch the Yankees or the Red Sox.

I think we’ll see a Yankees vs Red Sox Wild Card game.

To me, with the talent an expectations this team has, that’s just not good enough. A 94-win season just isn’t good enough.

For me, I don’t want the future of the Yankees defined by the 13-game winning streak or by the great months of July and August 2021 (however great they were). I don’t think those two months overshadow the play of the last four years.

In many regards, the Yankees of the last four years have under performed, underwhelmed, and left me wanting.

This last week, the Yankees have gone 2-5 following the 13-game winning streak. They’ve gone 2-5 primarily against bad teams. I think that says a lot.

A ton.

I’m uninspired.

I know others feel differently.

For me, a change will be necessary after the season. What will make this so challenging for the Yankees and will make for such great debates and discussions is the fact that there is so much evidence that will prove me right – and also prove me wrong.

This won’t be a simple decision.

And that tough decision will be compounded by the fact that it is highly likely that there is a post season coming for the Yankees…

and anything can happen there.

The 2021 Yankees are not just playing for 2021, they are playing for the next few years, and, in a way, for the future of the franchise.

It’ll be fun to watch. (Frustrating too, I am sure.)

***

Let’s Go Yankees!

#AaronBoone

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