After a putrid start to the season, the Yankees were left scrambling for answers. At 5-10, they found themselves with the worst record in the American League. With a roster that employs Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gerrit Cole, D.J. LeMahieu, and the like, that’s not something you expect- and sometimes don’t tolerate.
The Yankees rebounded and went on a bit of a hot streak, though a series-ending loss to Houston and a series-opening loss to Washington put a dampener on it. They’ve dropped back to .500 at 16-16, and if that’s the team they are, at or just above .500, then something’s definitely wrong. You can’t really make wholesale changes to the roster and those who are on the bench or in the minors aren’t really going to turn a team around, so firing the manager is usually the go-to move.
But is it a good move? And should the Yankees be considering it? Probably not. As rough as the start to the season and the last two games have been, the Yankees find themselves three games out of first, and three games from having the best record in baseball. The Red Sox and Athletics have 19 wins.
Most teams have struggled out of the gate. The defending World Champion Dodgers have hit a torrent of losses and sit at 17-15- one game ahead of the Yankees. Is Dave Roberts on the hot seat? No, and he shouldn’t be.
Baseball is a tricky game and is largely a game of streaks and slumps. Case in point, the Yankees were 5-10, mired in a terrible slump, and owners of the AL’s worst record. Then, they went 11-4, the best record in the AL during that stretch. Over a 162-game season, there are so many ebbs and flows. Teams usually revert to the mean.
And even if you include the back-to-back losses, the Yankees’ 11-6 record over the last 17 games translates to .647. That would put them at 105 wins. Now, that may not happen, but that is definitely closer to the talent level this team has. Teams and players usually revert to the mean sooner or later. Blistering hot starts usually cool off into a player’s true talent level. Ice cold starts usually pick up for good players and teams. That’s what we saw with the Yankees.
The offense was terrible, and it hasn’t been overly good lately, either. Pitching, which was a huge weak point for the Yankees, has carried them thus far. That’s even more of an indication that they’ll be just fine and they’ll be a good team.
You also have to consider the manager’s prior success. Boone has back-to-back 100 win seasons and a third consecutive playoff run in his first three seasons. That’s really good, and it shouldn’t be ignored in favor of a poor start or a mediocre start to the season. Especially not after 15 games. Not even now, after 32 games.
What’s more, the game of baseball is moving increasingly towards analytics. The analytics departments for a lot of teams, including the Yankees, make the majority of the decisions. Boone is there to manage the players and motivate them and have their back and be a media personality- as are lots of managers.
The role of a manager has changed drastically and it seems most teams don’t need someone who’s going to make decisions in the heat of the moment- that’s where the analytics come into play. What the numbers and the data tell us is how we’re going to make decisions.
Sometimes it backfires, and fans get very upset about ‘analytics ruining the game’. Do you know what else backfires? Gut decisions- a lot.
The role of a manager has changed. Aaron Boone has had a lot of success in his first three seasons. The players like him and there seem to be no clubhouse problems. The Yankees are still a good team, and they’re not far off from being the best team in baseball like some analysts thought they could be.
It’s a long season. For those reasons and more, the Yankees should not be close to considering firing Aaron Boone.