2019 New York Yankees
2019 New York Yankees / Franchise: New York Yankees / BR Team Page
Record: 103-59, Finished 1st in AL Eastern Division (2019 AL)
Managed by Aaron Boone
Coaches: Josh Bard, Jason Brown, Mike Harkey, Phil Nevin, Carlos Mendoza, P.J. Pilittere, Larry Rothschild, Marcus Thames and Reggie Willits
History, Comments, Contributions
After winning an even 100 games in 2018, big things were expected of the 2019 New York Yankees heading into the season. However, the team had been surprisingly quiet in the off-season, with the main acquisition being starting pitcher James Paxton, acquired from the Seattle Mariners in return for prospects, and IFs D.J. LeMahieu and Troy Tulowitzki both signed as free agents. The real news was that the Yankees had not made a serious play to acquire either of the two top names on the market, OF Bryce Harper and IF Manny Machado.
The major early concern for the Yankees was injuries. These began even before spring training as it became clear that SS Didi Gregorius would not be available until mid-season. He was soon joined on the injured list by other names, including two starting pitchers, Luis Severino and CC Sabathia, who had announced this would be his last season, and reliever Dellin Betances. While they were expected not to miss extensive time, the next injury, to CF Aaron Hicks, was more serious. It provided an opportunity to keep both slugging first basemen, Greg Bird and Luke Voit on the roster to start the season, with the one not starting at first base being used as the DH. The Yankees opened the season at home against the lowly Baltimore Orioles and - lo and behold - managed to lose two of the three contests. But worse news came on April 1st, when two more players were added to an increasingly crowded injured list: LF Giancarlo Stanton and 3B Miguel Andujar. For Stanton, it was a strained biceps and was likely to be only a short-term issue, but Andujar's injury, announced as shoulder strain, was likely a labrum tear which would mean a lost season if he were to undergo surgery. With pressure mounting for the Yankees to trade for reinforcements, they decided for the time being to turn to replacements within the organization, with IF/OF Logan Wade and OF Clint Frazier being called up from the minors, soon joined by IF Giovanny Urshela. The Yankees then lost two of three against the Detroit Tigers, and in the last game, on April 3rd, it was Tulowitzki who went down, victim of an ankle injury. They made it above .500 for the first time on April 7th, with a record of 5-4, thanks to a 15-3 demolition of the Orioles in which C Gary Sanchez hit three homers and drove in six runs. However, on April 12th, Sanchez was the latest player to go on the injured list, with a calf strain, the list having now swollen to 12 names. Worse, the news regarding Ps Severino and Betances was not good, as what was originally expected to be a brief stay would likely stretch for many weeks for both, so that Sabathia's imminent return was just a minor consolation. On April 16th, it was Greg Bird's turn to go on the list and the next injury, on April 20th, really hurt, as OF Aaron Judge had to leave a game in the 6th inning with an oblique injury and was immediately sent to undergo an MRI. On April 25th, it was Frazier's turn to join the IL - the 15th player to do so - with a sprained ankle. He had been doing very well filling in the outfield, hitting .324 with 6 homers and 17 RBIs in 18 games. With the minor league cupboard bare by this point, the Yankees acquired veteran Cameron Maybin to have another warm body to play the field. On April 28th, LeMahieu and Urshela both had to leave a game against the San Francisco Giants, the first because of inflammation in his knee and the second after being hit by a pitch on his hand. Yet, in spite of resembling a M.A.S.H. unit, the Yankees were playing very well, ending the day at 17-11. Fortunately both players were available for the team's next game, on April 30th. The Yankees lost that game to finish the month at 17-12.
May seemed to be a copy of April at first, as on May 3rd, Paxton joined the ranks of the injured with inflammation in his knee, but the next day, Andujar, who had been feared lost for the season, was back in the line-up. That did not last long, though, as he did not hit at all in his few games back, and the Yankees soon threw in the towel, announcing he would undergo season-ending surgery to repair the labrum tear that had been bothering him all season. In a move smelling of desperation, they added 1B/DH Kendrys Morales, who at 36 had already flunked out of Toronto and Oakland this season, but in spite of this constant flow of bad news, their on-field play was stellar. On May 17th, Urshela keyed a three-run rally in the bottom of the 9th against the Tampa Bay Rays for a 4-3 win. That put the Yankees in first place ahead of Tampa Bay by a half-game for the first time since Opening Day. On May 22nd, they were 30-17 and had been on a 24-8 run since April 16th. It helped that they had already played 12 games against the lowly Orioles, but they had played well against everyone they had faced, in spite of the injuries. By sweeping a doubleheader from the Kansas City Royals on May 25th, the Yankees made it 7 straight wins with another player not on the radar in spring training, Chance Adams, picking up his first major league win in the nitecap.
The Yankees made a trade to acquire DH Edwin Encarnacion from the Seattle Mariners in early June, then got back both Stanton and Judge within a span of a few days, shortly after Gregorius had returned as well. This cost OF Clint Frazier his job - he was sent to the minors in spite of having hit .283 with 11 homers and 34 RBIs in 53 games, but it had the Yankees looking unbeatable. They reeled off 8 straight wins starting on June 15th. On June 24th, they tied a record belonging to the 2002 Texas Rangers with a homer in their 27th straight game; Hicks and Stanton, with his first of the year, did the honors in a 10-8 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. It did not take long to set a new record, as D.J. LeMahieu homered leading off the next game, and his blast was immediately followed by another one by Judge. On June 29-30th, the Yankees traveled to London, England to face the Boston Red Sox in the first two major league games to be played in Europe; they won both games, the first 17-13 and the second 12-8, as the cozy dimensions of London Olympic Stadium were unable to hold in their powerful bats. The homer streak finally ended on July 2nd, after 31 games, when they did not hit any long balls in a 4-2 loss to the New York Mets. That day, one of the major contributors to the Yankees' first-half success, 1B Luke Voit, went on the injured list with an abdominal strain; he joined Stanton, who had returned to action in late June only to re-aggravate his knee injury after barely a week of games.
In spite of remaining questions about the team's starting rotation, the Yankees remained quiet at the trading deadline at the end of July, not making a move to acquire available starting pitchers such as Marcus Stroman, Zack Greinke or Madison Bumgarner. Meanwhile, the injuries continued to mount - with C Sanchez, CF Hicks and 1B Voit all going or returning to the injured list in late July or early August and others missing games here and there while banged up, but the wins still piled up. On August 5-7, the Yankees completed a three-game sweep of the Orioles that gave them a number of records: an unblemished 10-0 record against the Birds at Camden Yards; most homers in a three-game series (16); most homers as a visiting team in one ballpark in one season (43); most homers against one team (43 - in spite of there being 4 games left to play at home against the Orioles); most consecutive games with at least 5 homers (3). They completed their season series on August 14th with their 16th straight win over Baltimore, for an overall record of 17-2. It was the most wins by a Yankee team against any opponent since they had gone 17-5 against the 1959 Kansas City Athletics. They hit a total of 61 homers and both Torres and Sanchez ended up in a double figures, a first since Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth had done so against the 1927 Boston Red Sox, in 22 games. The final win was also the 81st of the season and put them 40 games above .500 for the first time since their last World Series-winning season in 2009. On August 24th, the Yankees tied the major league record for most home runs in a month with their 58th blast in just 23 games; the two team that shared the record, the 1987 Orioles (in May) and the 1999 Mariners (also in May) had needed 28 and 27 games respectively. They finished the month with the unworldly total of 74 homers!
A slight reprieve from all the hitting came on September 2nd, when the Yankees were shut out, 7-0 by the Texas Rangers and their ace Mike Minor. While this did not change much in the bigger scheme of things, it ended a streak of 220 games without being shut out, dating back to July 1st of the previous season, the second longest such streak in history. The longest was still the 308 games the Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig led Yankees teams put together from 1931 to 1933. On September 8th, they hit three more homers in a 10-5 win over the Red Sox to break the team record of 267 homers in a season set the previous year; at the time, it was the also the major league record, but this year's Minnesota Twins had also eclipsed the mark a few days earlier. On September 10th, they hit 6 more homers in an 11-10 loss to the lowly Detroit Tigers. That brought them into a tie with the Twins with 276 homers, after having trailed their record-setting pace all season. Both teams had a shot of breaking the 300 mark, which had seemed unattainable before the season. They finished with 306 homers, a new team record, and just one behind the Twins who hit 307 to set the new major league record.
Awards and Honors
- All-Stars: Aroldis Chapman, D.J. LeMahieu, Gary Sanchez, Masahiro Tanaka and Gleyber Torres
- Mariano Rivera Award: Aroldis Chapman
- AL Silver Slugger Award: D.J. LeMahieu (2B)
- Pete Caldera: "Panic? Optimism? Here are the New York Yankees after a disappointing dozen games", USA Today, April 11, 2019. 
- Pete Caldera: "Emotional scene as Yankees react to the end of their season", USA Today, October 20, 2019. 
- Gabe Lacques: "How the Yankees have stayed red-hot through all the devastating injuries", USA Today, May 22, 2019. 
- Zachary Silver: "Record-setting night gives Yanks the sweep: With five big flies, New York establishes mark for homers against a team in a single season", mlb.com, August 8, 2019. 
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