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The Tuesday Discussion: One Reason Why They’re Winning

August 10, 2021

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This week we posed the following to our writers:

The Yankees are now doing great. What do you think is the one biggest factor in the Yankees success since the All-Star break?

Here are their responses:

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Paul Semendinger – I know this is much too simplistic, but Anthony Rizzo.

One player is not the difference, it’s been a lot of things, but, what has Anthony Rizzo brought?

He’s brought a left-handed bat who is a legitimate threat to get a hit and/or to hit the ball out of the park.

Rizzo is also an “unconventional” Yankees-type hitter in that he’s not a three-true-outcome guy. He actually chokes up when he gets two strikes. He’s a hitter’s hitter. The Yankees needed this type of balance in addition to the all-righty approach.

Anthony Rizzo plays great defense and saves bad throws from becoming bigger problems. He makes errors into outs. The Yankees haven’t seen that at first base for ages.

Rizzo has brought energy and life and, most of all, the experience of being a winner which I have written about and which cannot be ignored. Winners win. Again that sounds simplistic, and much too easy, but there is truth to that. Guys who have won championships know what it’s like to win championships. They bring a different approach. They know what it takes. There was a time when part of the Yankees’ formula was to find guys who won and add them to the mix. They got away from that. (Quick Quiz – How many current Yankees have a World Series ring?”) Rizzo brings that element to the team. That can’t be overlooked.

(Maybe one day I’ll do a series on the rosters of each World Series team and how many previous rings they won. It wasn’t just Babe Ruth who brought winning to the Yankees in 1921-1923. There were a host of championship former Red Sox on those teams. Then, think about those 1970s teams… it wasn’t just Reggie, it was Catfish, Paul Blair, Ken Holtzman, and others who had been winners. In the 1990s, David Cone, Jimmy Key, and Paul O’Neill are three players who come quickly to mind.. This is an element that is often forgotten when building a team. It shouldn’t be. Winners tend to win where ever they go. )

Anthony Rizzo has been a difference maker in many ways.

No, he’s not THE reason, but he’s a big reason why the Yankees are now winning for these reasons.

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Cary Greene – Since the July 13th All-Star break, the Yankees have come out with both barrels blazing and the team is 15-7! That’s .682 baseball folks, a notion or goal that only a month ago seemed unthinkable. But here we are! – As I said all along that we could be!!

Over this stretch of 21 games, the Yankees have outscored opponents 92 to 78 which is good for a +14 Differential. The team has a 3,71 ERA since the break, which is pretty darn solid but it’s the offense that’s made the difference.

How have the Yankees managed to turn it around offensively? Simple, the lineup has been far more balanced and diverse. The Scranton kids had a lot to do with this. Base running improved, Boone was able to go R-L-R-L-R-L with his lineup and suddenly, the Yankees were pressuring opposing pitchers, hitting the occasional home runs and doing damage. You could see the looks on opposing manager’s & player’s faces. The Yankees suddenly were not easy to game plan against.

Much of what kick started the team has now dissipated. The Yankees demoted Greg Allen and Estevan Florial but they added Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo, who is now out. The balance isn’t quite what it was, the base running has dropped off and lately the Yankees are kind of looking for homeruns again. I don’t feel the current approach is sustainable. Aaron Boone is at his best when he’s pushing buttons and he needs the players on the roster to do that. We’ll likely see the Yankees regress a bit over the next 10 games or so. They aren’t the team they were and between Covid and Yankee decision making, this ballclub is trending one dimensional again. They need to get back tot he multifaceted offense that kick started them and saved their season.

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Ed Botti – There are multiple factors why the Yankees went 15-7 since the All Star Game. Such as competition level (Marlins, Mariners, Orioles for 10 games), line up balance (the addition of Anthony Rizzo– I’d love to add Gallo but besides his 1 home run he has done nothing offensively… hitting .162 with 18Ks in 37 ABs), and the infusion of energy from the Scranton guys (most of which are now back in Scranton). But overall the biggest factor would be the starting pitching led by Taillon and Montgomery. Since the All-Star Game Taillon has pitched to a 1.48 ERA in 30.1 innings and Monty has pitched to a 1.66 in 21.2 post All-Star Game innings. For the most part, the bullpen has chipped in very well post All-Star Game.

As you all know I am not a fan of Cashman. But I do give him credit for bringing on Clay Holmes and Luis Gil. They have made an immediate impact as well. I am not sure they can sustain it, but it has been a big boost.

Unfortunately, with Rizzo out and Voit in, I believe we will see the same old all or nothing nonsense resurface again.

I am not sold on them doing a complete 180 from the disastrous first 89 games. A 22 game stretch isn’t enough for me.

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Chris O’Connor – I don’t think that it comes as a huge surprise when I say that I think the single biggest factor in the Yankees resurgence is the trade deadline moves. I think the baseball community (myself included) can get too caught up in the numbers and at times can use a reminder that this game is played by human beings. In a 162 game season, there are inevitably going to be times when guys feel good and when they don’t. A status quo trade deadline can add to the monotony of the long season, causing a team to slump if they know that earned reinforcements are not coming (see: Red Sox). A trade deadline splash, however, can signal a front office’s belief in a team and can give the players a jolt of energy and confidence, even if the reinforcements initially struggle (like Joey Gallo). I’m not sure how long this shot-in-the arm can last, but it has been really fun to see.

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Patrick Gunn – The Yankees have been successful since the All-Star Break because everyone has stepped up. The bullpen has had fewer blow up games since the Red Sox series. Jameson Taillon has been a stud and Nestor Cortes Jr. and Luis Gil have pitched brilliantly in spot starts. The lineup has improved, partially because of some positive regression and the additions of Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo. The key to a strong finish for the Bombers is player health and following guidelines. With that said, the Yankees have put themselves in a position for an interesting finish.

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Mike Whiteman – This Yankee team has battled through tremendous adversity, with the lineup and rotation devastated by the effects of injury and COVID. Yet, it seems like the more that has gotten thrown at this team, the more they have responded with grit and fight.

There has been one constant through this resurgence: Aaron Boone.

Boone has been fodder for many who follow the team, with calls for his firing reaching a fever pitch at times. His steady demeanor and “we’ll get them next time” responses to losses has been mocked and criticized by the media and fan base.

While not perfect (his batting orders drive me nuts) , Boone and his unflappability has been exactly what this team has needed. His grace under fire has created a positive atmosphere for the Yanks and they’re reaping the benefits of that now.

It’s common to mistake “fire and brimstone” for passion and leadership. Boone’s calm approach has led his team through historical challenges in 2021, and they are now playing their best baseball of the season and fighting for a postseason spot. I cannot think of another manager who could have gotten more out of the 2021 Yankees.

#AaronBoone #AnthonyRizzo #BrianCashman

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