BERGEN COUNTY, N.J. – People consider New York Yankees’ second-year skipper Aaron Boone out of the running for 2019 Major League Baseball’s American League winner of Manager of the Year. Why? Simply because of the fact that the Yankees have the league’s third highest payroll, at $217,957,521. Ken Rosenthal, sportswriter and reporter, in an article for The Athletic, points to a list of three finalists, senza Boone: the Rays’ Kevin Cash, the Athletics’ Bob Melvin, and the Indians’ Terry Francona. His argument? “[These are] three managers vying for two wild cards, all with injury-depleted rosters and far lower payrolls than the Yankees'”.
What Rosenthal fails to take into consideration, and, subsequently, mention is:
- “Injury-depleted rosters”: The 2019 Yankees’ trips to the Injured List are historic. On August 30, when the 26th unique player (36th overall player), Gio Urshela, hit the IL, the Yankees broke the single-season MLB record for number of injured players. At that point in time, 2,246 games were lost by injured players for the Yankees: 593 more than the second-most-injured team, the San Diego Padres.
- “Far lower payrolls than the Yankees”: 27.85% of New York’s payroll is wrapped in players that have either yet to see the field this year or have seen minimal action: Jacoby Ellsbury, Giancarlo Stanton, Luis Severino, Greg Bird, Miguel Andujar, and Dellin Betances. Subtract just their base salaries from the total payroll and one would find that Boone is operating with a team payroll of $157,247,664 (7th in the league). However, this figure is still above the MLB’s average (and above that of Rosenthal’s picks: Rays, Athletics, and Indians.)
- With that said, these three teams are vying for a Wild Card spot! That means that they cannot win their divisions and have an outsider’s chance of winning the World Series. Currently: Tampa Bay sits 8.5 games back in the AL East, the Indians find themselves 6.5 games back. in the AL Central, and the Athletics are the farthest away, at 9.5 games out of winning the AL West. To win the World Series, Tampa Bay has a 3.8% chance, the Indians have a 1.1% chance, and the Athletics, hold a 2.3% chance. The Yankees, who own a 13.9% chance to win the World Series almost double that of those three teams…combined. At this very moment, the Yankees are tied with the Houston Astros at having best record in Major League Baseball.
I did a little research…
Based on my research, displayed in my chart above, the members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, in voting for their selections, do not seem to have a ‘system’ for selecting the winning candidate. Mangers who have missed the playoffs won the award in two consecutive years (Peña-2003 and Showalter-2004). One can conclude that winning or losing doesn’t seem to matter. Managers that have had the highest payroll in the league (and almost the lowest payroll in the league) have won the award. One can conclude that payroll doesn’t seem to matter.
The last Yankees manager to win American League manager of the year was Joe Torre 21 years ago (1998) and 23 years ago (1996). Yankees won the World Series in 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2009. In that span alone, New York won more titles than 21 teams and equal to 5 teams. Torre only won the award twice during the Yankee Dynasty years and Joe Girardi never did. Fans may have a case in the “Yankees bias” in terms of selecting the American League’s manager of the year… especially regarding the fact that Torre won the award with the first and second highest payrolls in the league. Why should that be a knock on Boone in 2019?
To me, the definition of Manager of the Year is: (noun) a manager that puts his/her team in the best position to win (reflected in winning percentage and/or playoff victories), while overcoming both inherent and unexpected obstacles throughout the course of the season.
Despite being tied for possessing the best record in baseball (‘reflected in winning percentage’, after a historic marriage to the IL this season (‘overcoming…unexpected obstacles’), to me, the clearcut winner of the 2019 AL Manager of the Year is Aaron Boone.