Yankees’ injuries are mounting in the COVID shortened season. But it’s not about the number of days lost; it’s about who is lost.
Yankees’ injuries, both this year and last year, continue to attract a good deal of attention. Thirty different players were placed on the IL in 2019, and it would appear the trend is continuing.
According to Spotrac, twelve Yankees have spent time on the IL in 2020. This represents six percent of the 181 major league players who have hit the IL this season.
If all 181 injured players are distributed equally among all 30 teams, Yankees injuries should total sixteen percent, a difference of ten percent in favor of the Yankees.
In all, and again according to Spotrac, Yankees’ injuries result in 275 days of playing time lost this year (to date). This represents a loss of $14.3 million in salaries paid to injured players.
Across the major leagues, there are several playoff-contending teams like the Yankees who exceed those 275 days.
A few examples include the Atlanta Braves (418), Houston Astros (450), Philadelphia Phillies (332), and the San Diego Padres (513).
A study conducted by The Last Word On Baseball concludes that MLB’s shortened spring training correlates to a 22% increase in injuries throughout the major leagues in 2020.
This five-year table shows the trend:
Yankees’ Injuries Is Not The Real Issue
Ergo, we need to stop talking about the “injury-plagued Yankees” as a team – and move instead to the real problem, which is who the Yankees’ injured player is.
To be fair and complete, not all Yankees injuries this year are equal. Aroldis Chapman, D.J. LeMahieu, and Luis Cessa all lost time to a COVID related illness.
Similarly, pitchers Luis Severino and Tommy Kahnle suffered season-ending shoulder injuries – and Masahiro Tanaka was hit in the head during the shortened spring training resulting in a concussion.
No, we’re talking about the Yankees’ injuries described as a quad, hamstring, calf, and obliques.
These are injuries that can be traced to poor conditioning, improper pre-game prep, incomplete rehabbing before resuming play, or the stubbornness of players who want to play – even if they shouldn’t be on the field.
It’s also been said that maybe Stanton and Judge are too big for their britches to be playing baseball.
Aaron Judge And Giancarlo Stanton: Poster Boys
Aaron Judge, eighteen days lost and counting, is an example of a player who balked at being placed on the IL the first time, only to return prematurely to re-injure the same calf.
This time, Yankees GM Brian Cashman wasted no time in declaring that Judge will be out a minimum of two weeks before returning to the Yankees.
Among the injured Yankees is Giancarlo Stanton, with 23 days lost and $3.4 million collected while on the IL.
Yesterday, Yankees manager Aaron Boone declined to provide a timetable as to when Stanton will return to the team.
Both Stanton and Judge are significant cogs in the machine that makes for a potent Yankee lineup.
Yankees: It’s Not All About The Injuries Anyway
Add those injuries to players who are playing but not contributing, and you can better understand why the Yankees currently trail the Tampa Bay Rays by 3 1/2 games in the AL East.
Minus yesterday, when the ball found the bat of Gary Sanchez, resulting in a grand-slam home run to win the game against the Mets, Sanchez is batting only .134 with eleven hits to his credit for the season, while striking out in 46% of his at-bats.
Similarly, before his quad injury, Gleyber Torres had tallied a single home run and eighteen hits over 78 at-bats, numbers well below his standard, with problems developing in the field that are equally a cause of concern.
Still, everything traces back to Judge and Stanton, who are frustrated as anyone with their inability to stay in the Yankees lineup.
Typically, Aaron Boone tries daily to encourage the plight of Yankees’ injuries, but he’s running out of words when the conversation turns to Stanton and Judge.
Equally frustrating to the Yankees as a franchise is the seven years remaining on Giancarlo Stanton’s outrageous contract the team inherited when they acquired him from the Marlins following an MVP season.
It’s safe to say no team in the league currently wants Stanton on their roster unless the Yankees are willing to pass along significant dollars to the team inheriting Stanton.
The same cannot be said of Aaron Judge, who is earning $8.5 million this season, with two years of arbitration remaining before he reaches free-agent status in 2023.
When healthy, Aaron Judge is one of the top-five position players in the game – the keyword being healthy.
The Yankees were generous this year, offering Judge an eight-million dollar raise – after a 2019 season in which he missed almost the entire second half of the season due to injury.
How long can this go on?
Yankees: Tackle The Problem Now Before It Tackles You
Almost certainly, a Yankees offer to extend Judge’s contract with a multi-year deal tied to beaucoup money is out of the question.
But how do the Yankees risk snubbing the face of their team, even if it’s more than warranted?
Unlike Jacoby Ellsbury, who opted to collect every penny due to him while never playing, Stanton appears to be of a different character.
Stanton could take advantage of this opt-out, with the risk of moving into free agency, thereby leaving about $300 million on the table.
How much is enough is something Stanton can think about in return for a new start in, for example, his hometown of Los Angeles, with the Dodgers deep pockets offsetting a good portion of that “lost” money.
Yankees: Too Many Questions – Not Enough Answers
In sum, the frequency and number of Yankees’ injured players is a misnomer that is given far too much attention.
Instead, more attention needs to be given to the types of injuries and who is getting hurt and causing constant disruption in the Yankee lineup.
When they play, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are two of the best and most productive players in the league – when they play.
D-Day is coming to the Yankees sooner than they like, but adequate replacements for both players need to be found.
Whether it’s Clint Frazier or Mike Tauchman who is handed a regular job, or someone currently not on the team – it’s a must situation Brian Cashman, and the Yankees can no longer afford to neglect.