Yankees elimination from 2023 postseason as rare as it gets; Brian Cashman under microscope

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Aaron Judge Yankees
New York Yankees designated hitter Aaron Judge walks back to the dugout after being called out on strikes to end the fifth inning during a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/John Munson)

These seven words alone are a rarity for baseball fans: The Yankees are eliminated from postseason contention. 

A 7-1 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium officially sealed the Bronx Bombers’ fate of missing out on the playoffs for the first time since 2016. 

It’s just the fifth time since Brian Cashman took over as general manager in 1998 that the Yankees have missed the playoffs — that’s five times in the last 26 seasons. To put it into perspective, from 1998-2022, Cashman’s Yankees had been mathematically eliminated from postseason contention in just 16 of 3,946 games total games, per the Elias Sports Bureau.

Add seven more of those games to that dubious ledger, now, as New York simply plays out the remainder of its schedule just to avoid last place in the American League East. They’re currently three games up on the Boston Red Sox for the cellar spot.

“That’s what you work hard towards all year round… for an opportunity to play in October and compete for a championship,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “So the reality of that not being in play sucks.”

The Yankees’ issues were exacerbated by the loss of Aaron Judge — the man who singlehandedly willed the Yankees to the ALCS last season and remains one of the most feared hitters in baseball. On June 3, the day he injured his toe running into the wall to make a catch at Dodger Stadium, they were 35-25. In his eight-week absence and his subsequent return, they’re 43-52. 

Aaron Boone Yankees
New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone walks back to the dugout after making a pitching change in the seventh inning during a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/John Munson)

Simply put, Cashman did little to provide the proper support for his team’s central figures. 

Judge was the only qualified Yankees bat to post an OPS over .800 this season (1.013). Meanwhile, no batter in the Yankees lineup has a batting average over .270 this season — Giancarlo Stanton is batting just .189 while Anthony Volpe is hitting at a .208 clip in his rookie year. 

The Yankees’ 4.17 runs per game this season is tied for 24th in the majors. The last time they ranked bottom-10 in that stat was — you guessed it — 2016. 

On the mound, Gerrit Cole is the favorite to win the American League Cy Young as he further proves that the massive contract he signed with New York four seasons ago was worth every penny. But the rest of the rotation was nothing short of a disaster.

Carlos Rodon, brought in to be the co-ace alongside Cole after signing a six-year, $162 million deal over the winter, didn’t make his debut until July due to injuries and struggled mightily after that. He’s 3-7 with a 5.74 ERA.

Nestor Cortes and Luis Severino also battled injury issues all season and regressed mightily. Domingo German, who pitched a perfect game back in June, checked into rehab for alcohol abuse just five weeks later. 

“There’s a lot that went wrong,” Judge said. “We can hit it from a lot of different aspects but when it comes down to it, we just didn’t come out here and do our job.”

But the fact of the matter is that Cashman, once again, didn’t do enough to provide the necessary depth needed to field a legitimate contender while Boone certainly did no favors in the dugout. 

This is as long a drought of futility as the baseball world has seen from the Yankees in quite some time. 

They haven’t won an American League pennant in 14 years, which is the longest drought since waiting 15 years between pennants in 1981 and their World Series title in 1996. The Yankees’ only longer wait for a pennant than that 15-year stretch comes at the birth of the franchise when they went from their inaugural season from 1903 to 1921 when they lost the World Series to the New York Giants in eight games.

To put it into a grander perspective — which helps quantify the historical might of this organization — from 1921-2009, the Yankees appeared in 45% of World Series played. They’ve been in 0% since then. 

For more on the Yankees, visit AMNY.com