Joe Girardi Is Not The New York Yankees Problem, Their Fans Are

If you’re a Twitter user, search “FireGirardi”. It’s amazing, really.

The New York Yankees season finished one game away from the World Series and the pinstripe faithful have turned on their once beloved manager. They blame him for everything from failing to change pitchers at the appropriate times (perhaps a fair criticism) to not teaching fundamentals. I have to laugh at that last one. If you’re in the majors, the last thing you need to be taught is fundamentals. You either have them or you don’t by that point in your career.

It’s a weird dichotomy to be Yankees fan today. On one hand, you blame Girardi for not advancing to the World Series, but simultaneously on the other hand admit this team is at least a year or two early.

Since you’re good an internet searches, go ahead and search “preseason 2017 MLB predictions”. After perusing those search results you’ll realize that not one credible source had a consensus of the Yankees making the playoffs at all, much less one win away from the Fall Classic.

Here’s some other numbers on this upstart Yankees team:

  • Went 45-41 in the first half of the season, 46-30 in the second half including 20-8 in September.
  • Spent 62 days in first place in the AL East
  • They were never more than 5.5 games behind the lead in the AL East, and that happened on September 1st.
  • The furthest below .500 they reached was 3 games and that was April-freaking-8th.
  • They shutout their opponents 7 times, while only being shutout themselves 3 times.
  • They finished 3rd in batting average and OPS, and 2nd in OPS+.
  • They finished 2nd in team WHIP, 3rd in ERA, and 2nd in runs allowed per game.

Not bad numbers for a team who no one expected to do much.

Indeed, if you want to try to figure out what went wrong, you simply have to look at the runs scored on the road. Everyone likes home cooking, but the Yankees batting average dipped by 7 points on the road, OPS by 62, and scored 44 fewer runs away from Yankee Stadium. To me, that screams of a young team that will only get better. The average age of the Yankees top 10 WAR players for this season is 28.4. And that number is watered down by 33-year-olds Brett Gardner, Chase Headley, and Jacoby Ellsbury. On the pitching staff, the only players in the top 10 for WAR over 30 were CC Sabathia (36) and David Robertson (32).

In other words: they’ll be fine.

This mentality that firing Joe Girardi is the answer to returning the Yankees to post-season glory is the product of a spoiled fan base that is suffering from recency bias. Sure, 1996-2007 was a blast. But do you all remember that Joe Torre’s final 3 seasons in the Bronx ended in LDS defeats by 3-2, 3-1, and 3-1 margins? And to be clear- this team is not those teams.

Indeed the Yankees bucked the development curve and struck a chord with a fan base that loves to shout to the world that they’ve won 27 championships. Nothing short of 28 will suffice, but do you really think changing the leadership will help? And if you want to use the Boston Red Sox as your example for firing John Farrell after consecutive LDS defeats, don’t. That was short-sighted as well.

This is the youngest Yankees team by age since 1992-1993. Patience is the key, not trigger-happy management.

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