The Tenth Inning
 The Tenth Inning Blog
Periodically, I will post new entries about current baseball topics.  The posts will typically be a mixture of commentary, history, facts, and stats.  Hopefully, they will provoke some  of your thoughts or emotions. Clicking on the word "Comments" associated with each post below will open a new dialog box to enter or retrieve any feedback.
Aaron Boone should feel like he got robbed

Yankees manager Aaron Boone was narrowly defeated by Twins manager Rocco Baldelli in the voting for American League Manager of the Year, 106 to 96.  Having remarkably won 103 games with a lineup that practically changed every day due to a barrage of injuries throughout the year, Boone has a good case for claiming “I wuz robbed.”

Boone is in his second season with New York, while Baldelli was in his first season at the helm of Minnesota.  Both of them represent the new-style of major-league manager that has no prior managerial experience at any level.  Yet despite their relative inexperience, there’s no doubt they are already making a big impact with their teams

The Yankees finished first in the East Division for the first time since 2012.  They won 100 games last year in Boone’s rookie season, when they finished second behind World Series champion Boston.  There are some managers who’ve never won 100 games in even one season during their entire careers.

The deck was stacked against Boone from the very start of this season because of injuries.  His Opening Day lineup consisting of Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Gleyber Torres, Troy Tulowitzki, Miguel Andujar, Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Luke Voit collectively missed 55% of their games during the season.  And that’s not counting Didi Gregorius and Aaron Hicks who began the season on the injured list and played only 141 games between them.  Thank goodness for newly acquired DJ LeMehieu and a host of no-name Yankees (Gio Urshela, Mike Tauchman, Mike Ford, Tyler Wade, Clint Frazier, and Austin Romine) who stepped in and admirably filled in the gaps every day.

To top that off, Boone was without his top-of-the-rotation pitcher Luis Severino and one of his top relievers, Dellin Betances, for all but four games during the season.  Domingo German, who had pitched in 28 major-league games before this season, was pressed into full-time service as a starter and thankfully contributed 18 wins.

In all, 30 different Yankees players were on the injured list during the season.  Yes, that’s right, THIRTY!

To win 103 games with those types of conditions is practically unheard of in the big leagues.  Boone had to become the master magician in order to piece together a viable lineup each day.  Fortunately LeMahieu, Torres, Urshela, and Gardner wound up having career years.  Admittedly, Boone did have the benefit of one of the best bullpens in the league, which contributed tremendously to their overall results.  But he still had to make tough decisions every day on which strings to pull with the relief staff.

And yet the Yankees still set a franchise record for most home runs in a season (306), finishing second in the league to Minnesota with 307.  And they finished with a run differential of 204 for the season, second only to Houston.

There’s no denying that Baldelli had a fine season.  The telltale sign of his influence was that Minnesota won 23 more games that they did last year.  That’s a huge turnaround in one season.  However, his detractors say that the division was the least competitive this year, and they were only 9-10 against division runner-up Cleveland.

As an inexperienced rookie manager of a sub-.500 team from last year, Baldelli was one of the more improbable candidates for the award coming into the season.  In the past though, voters for the award have placed a high value on first-time managers who get into the playoffs.  Baldelli was the “shiny new rock” among the league’s managers this year, and many of the voters may have been swayed by that situation. 

If the voting had occurred after the post-season, the results would likely have swayed toward Boone.  Baldelli got out-managed in the American League Division Series by Boone, as the Yankees swept the Twins, who scored only seven runs in the series.

Boone has good reason to be upset with the outcome of the voting.  Arguably he had the best talent in the league going into the season.  They were expected to win a lot of games.  But after a practical overhaul of the roster as the season unfolded, his team still won a lot of games. 103, in fact.

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