Anthony McCarron, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Any playoff exit stings, but that doesn't mean 2019 was all bad for the Yankees, the Jeterian angst over no championship aside.
With that in mind, here's a look at our awards for this Yankee year, some modeled on the real ones, some not so much:
Team MVP: D.J. LeMahieu
This is an easy choice as LeMahieu went from a free-agent pickup that made doubters howl, "But where's he going to play?" to an indispensible stud.
Not only did he hit .327 to contend for the AL batting title (he finished second), he blasted 26 homers, knocked in 102 runs, and recorded an .893 OPS. He played 75 games at second base, 53 games at third base and 40 games at first.
Starting at first in the postseason, he was one of the few fearsome Yankees at the plate, batting .325 with a 1.011 OPS and three home runs, including one that would've been etched in Yankee lore if not for, well, you know.
Pinstriped Cy Young: James Paxton
We like Paxton here, in part for that 10-start summer stretch that gave us plenty to dream on, plus a hard-nosed start in Game 5 against the Astros in which he earned his playoff chops. Oh, the playoffs aren't part of the consideration for the regular Cy Young Award?
Well, we're making our own rules for the purposes of these awards. Paxton was 15-6 with a 3.82 ERA and led the club with 186 strikeouts in 150.2 innings. He allowed just 138 hits and, in a year when suppressing home runs was important, he edged Masahiro Tanaka for team-best among starters, allowing only 1.37 per nine innings. Paxton had some problems dealing with the first inning this year and he's got to deliver more innings in the future -- Tanaka led the Yankees with 182.
Biggest surprise: Gio Urshela
Wasn't he supposed to be all-field, little-hit? When Miguel Andújar got hurt, the Yanks needed a replacement. Urshela turned into more than that -- an all-around asset who played everyday and needs a regular lineup spot next year.
In 132 games, Urshela batted .314 with an .889 OPS (four points lower than LeMahieu, by the by). Urshela also hit 21 homers and drove in 74 runs. Mike Tauchman (13 homers, .865 OPS in 296 plate appearances and astounding outfield defense) deserves mention here, as does Domingo German (18-4, 4.03).
Biggest disappointment: Giancarlo Stanton
Circumstances doomed Stanton to this dubious award. He's an expensive star who played only 18 regular season games because of injury and then got hurt again in the postseason. Unfair? Perhaps, but the Yankees need much more from Stanton.
Weirdly, they won all five games in which he appeared in the playoffs, though he was certainly no world-beater in those games, going 3-for-13 with a .389 on-base percentage and one homer. Next season, maybe he'll tuck into a better category.
Best Defensive Player: Aaron Judge
Judge is not just some offense-first star. Sure, he's one of baseball's most dynamic hitters, but he's bloomed into a monster on defense, too.
Judge had a tremendous postseason with the glove -- remember that catch-and-throw off Yordan Álvarez' bashed liner in Game 1 of the ALCS that he turned into a double play? -- to follow up on a sensational defensive regular season. Judge and Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers tied for the MLB lead in Defensive Runs Saved among right fielders, according to FanGraphs. Judge and Bellinger each had 19 DRS, though Judge accumulated his in 136 fewer innings. His throwing arm is a feared weapon.
Postseason MVP: Gleyber Torres
Torres' breakout year continued in the playoffs when he was the Yankees' biggest threat. Torres batted .324 with five doubles, three homers and 10 RBI. He finished with a 1.078 OPS and ran his postseason hitting streak to 10 games before it was snapped.
Next Man Up Award...
The. Whole. Freakin'. Organization. They had 30 players on the Injured List this season and still won 103 games.