Yankees manager Aaron Boone is, after all, human with certain biases toward his players. Here are two of the “pets” he likes the best.
But as we know, that is often an impossible task, given the assortment of personalities he is exposed to each spring when Brian Cashman hands him the list of 28 players who will start the year on the Yankees active roster.
Each player will need varying degrees of Boone’s attention. Rookies automatically are focused on while Yankees veterans and elite players like Brett Gardner, DJ LeMahieu, and Gerrit Cole can be trusted to go their own way.
As time moves on and Boone observes, there is a natural tendency for a core two or three players who gain a level of trust with Boone, or any manager.
Consciously or not, they become the go-to guys he’ll call on to get the Yankees out of a tight spot, or deliver a two-out base hit to get the job done.
They’re rarely the star players. Instead, they’re johnny-on-the-spot role players, overachievers, who always seem to be in the middle of a Yankees rally.
Yankees fans recall players like Luis Sojo, who spent seven of his thirteen years in the big leagues with the Yankees while appearing in only 274 games with a batting average of .291 in team wins, compared to a lifetime average of .261.
More recently, Ronald Torreyes played three seasons for the Yankees (2016-2018), filling in a second, third, and shortstop in an on-call role.
So who are the current Yankees who have the highest level of confidence with Aaron Boone?
Yankees: Aaron Boone’s Go-To Bullpen Guy – Chad Green
Chad Green is a 6’3″ 215-lb right-handed reliever for the Yankees since 2016. In a bullpen that includes Zack Britton, Aroldis Chapman, and until this season Dellin Betances – all All-Stars – he’s not the name that first comes to find with most Yankees fans.
But Green is the pitcher Aaron Boone calls on first, no matter what game situation is, and especially in high-pressure settings.
Baseball has this thing called the game entering Leverage Index for relievers. The stat measures the level of difficulty facing a pitcher as he comes into the game.
The norm or average is 1.0. Chad Green has a lifetime rating of 1.23; he was a ceiling-high 1.59 for Boone over 22 games in the shortened season.
Lefty (.075) or righty batters (.200), no one hits for average against Green. Only three of the twenty-two batters first up against Green got hits and only once this year was he tagged with a home run.
Ironically, the one time Boone didn’t go with his instincts, he removed Green in Game 2 of the ALCS against Houston last year, and it cost him.
Chad Green looked as though he could pitch all night, moving through the Houston hitters without the least bit of stress. He threw 26 pitches to get out six batters—21 pitches for strikes. Boone went to Adam Ottavino and the rest, as they say, is history.
Alas, we’ll never see that happen again.
Aaron Boone’s Go-To Position Player – Tyler Wade
Aaron Boone sees Wade in a different light, though.
Boone added, “He is always (trying to improve) his offensive game, and looking to take advantage of his speed, laying down a bunt, and working on that line-drive swing.”Andres Chavez, Empire Sports Media
One of the attributes of Wade that Boone must be drawn to is his level-headedness and willingness to own up to a mistake, like the baserunning blunder he made against the Mets that cost the Yankees an extra-inning game (video here)
But it’s his ability to bounce back later, contributing to get the Yankees rolling and back on track during a losing streak, that makes Wade invaluable (video).
Yankees Moving Up On Boone’s Confidence Chart
As time moves on, other Yankees are moving up on Boone’s unofficial confidence level chart.
Clint Frazier has rid himself of the tendency to shoot himself in the foot with the Yankees. Gone is an immature behavior pattern, and it’s always about me attitude.
A welcome development that’s been noticed not only by Boone but also by others throughout the organization and his teammates.
The steady improvement in playing the outfield has helped as well.
Another Yankees play worthy of an honorable mention is Gio Urshela. The stopper at third base, Urshela’s ability to stay on the playing field, along with every increasing production with his bat, leaves one less thing for Boone to deal with when filling out the Yankees lineup.
Yankees Making Boone’s Job Easier
None of these players are or will ever be a “star” on the Yankees team. Except for Frazier’s flaming red hair, slim chances are recognized in the hotel lobby and approached for an autograph.
Seldom are they featured in pre or post-game television interviews, or sought after by Yankees beat writers.
But Aaron Boone surely knows them, and he’s also getting to know more and more that they’ll be ready to play anywhere, anytime he needs them.
And more significantly, as time goes by, Boone can rest easier as he observes each of them reaching a level where has confidence in their ability to get the job done in tight spots.