Hiel: The 2019 yankees have been the most impressive team in baseball
Nick Hiel | Monday, September 9, 2019
The 2019 New York Yankees have been a record-setting team. They hit over 60 homers in August, setting a record for most home runs in a calendar month by a single team. The 2019 Yankees also have the most players with 10 or more home runs ever, breaking their own record from 2018. Coming into the season with top-tier sluggers like star catcher Gary Sanchez, 2017 Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge, and 2017 Most Valuable Player Giancarlo Stanton, the Yankees were expected to put together one of the most dangerous lineups in baseball. The third record the Yankees have set, though — and maybe the most shocking — is the team has sent the most players to the injured list (IL) in a single season in MLB history. Over the course of the 2019 season, the Yankees have sent 29 different players to the IL, including some of the biggest stars in the game. Giancarlo Stanton played only nine games this year before suffering a prolonged stint on the IL with a right knee strain. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Miguel Andujar, Didi Gregorius and Aaron Hicks are among the other Yankee bats who have spent time on the IL this year. Not to mention, two of the Yankees most promising young arms, starter Luis Severino and reliever Dellin Betances, have yet to even throw a pitch this season. James Paxton, a big offseason acquisition from the Seattle Mariners, spent extended time on the IL and has been shaky since his return.
Despite players dropping like flies all season, the Yankees are currently sitting at 93-50 — one win away from the Houston Astros, who have the best record in baseball. The team leads the American League East by eight games and the reigning World Series Champion Boston Red Sox by 16.5 games. The Yankees’ success is all the more impressive considering the fact that many of the team’s best players have contributed very little or not at all. The Yankees have had this success by relying on a group of new, mostly low-budget players who have exceeded the highest possible expectations.
One player who has embodied the “next man up” mentality of the 2019 Yankees is third baseman Gio Urshela. Urshela has always been known for his brilliant glove at third base and has had some success in the minor leagues, but has never been able to stay in the majors for a full season and has never batted above .225 or hit more than six homers. This year, Urshela has looked like anything but the fringe big-leaguer that the Yankees hoped would hang in there long enough for Miguel Andujar to return. He has posted a team-leading .331 batting average and slugged 18 home runs, all while playing a gold-glove third base. Urshela was one of the biggest all-star snubs of the year and the Yankees will look for the 27-year-old to be a big part of their playoff run in October.
Another godsend for the Yankees has been infielder DJ LeMahieu. LeMahieu was acquired from the Colorado Rockies in the offseason to provide some infield depth in a move that generally flew under the radar. Now, LeMahieu has been arguably the biggest offseason pick-up of the year and the Yankees best all-around player. A silent, humble killer, DJ is batting .328 with a career-high 24 home runs. Like Urshela, LeMahieu is an outstanding fielder who has shown incredible versatility. The former gold glove second baseman has filled in at third base and first base to make room for stars like Gleyber Torres and Didi Gregorious. LeMahieu will most likely finish second in AL MVP voting behind the Angels’ Mike Trout and is a player that Yankee fans would love to see wearing the pinstripes for years to come.
Other low-budget players who have stepped up big time are Mike Tauchman, Mike Ford and Cameron Maybin. Maybin has been a backup player for most of his career, but has thrived at the plate and in the outfield with the Yankees. A year ago today, Tauchman and Ford were minor league players who had never had any success at the next level. Now, they’re mainstays in the Yankee lineup and have been incredibly exciting to watch.
The stats make it obvious these players have been great for the Yankees, but they don’t even come close to telling the whole story. A season that seemed headed for disaster due to an obscene amount of injuries to key players has now been one of the most fun, successful and exciting seasons in recent memory for exactly that reason. The injuries the Yankees have sustained has allowed new players to come into the spotlight and blow us away. Whether it’s watching Mike Tauchman rob a homerun in Camden Yards or Mike Ford pummel a walk-off homerun to beat the A’s, it’s been an exhilarating season for Yankee fans. This lovable group of no-names have come together to lead the most successful franchise in sports history to one of their most unique seasons ever. The 2019 Yankees have had truly unprecedented success with so many key injuries. The Bronx Bombers can only hope their shaky pitching rotation will be enough to help them make a World Series run in what has been a truly magical season.