Aaron Boone
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

There should be no doubt about it. New York Yankees’ Aaron Boone should be the 2019 AL Manager of the Year.

Aaron Boone is a great manager.

This truth isn’t told nearly enough. In the age of analytics, managers as a whole are written off as mere data applicators rather than chess masters of the game. Boone is no exception to this criticism.

Except, in his second season with the New York Yankees, Boone looks like a new man. He has swagger. The confidence is there and the team buys into it.

Gone is the man who struggled with leaving starters in too long. Instead, the Yankees’ skipper has his process down to a tee. Communication with everyone from the coaching staff to the players is at its strongest point in years.

And yet, for all of Boone’s success, the possibility of him as American League Manager of the Year is rarely discussed. Sure, he’s good at his job, but didn’t he inherit a strong team from Joe Girardi?

The short answer is no, he did not. Aaron Boone has reshaped the Yankees in his and GM Brian Cashman’s image. Cashman picks the players and Boone works his magic to get the best out of them. He is General Maximus Decimus Meridius and the Yankees his devoted soldiers of the Armies of the North; his disciples; his savages in the box.

Aaron Boone should be AL Manager of the Year, and awarding the honor to anyone else would be highway robbery.

Tough managerial competition

And in fairness to the rest of the league, Aaron Boone does have some tough competition for Manager of the Year. Rocco Baldelli is not only the youngest manager in MLB at age 38, but led the Minnesota Twins to 101 wins and the AL Central crown.

Similarly, in the Yankees’ own American League Eastern Division, Kevin Cash led the Tampa Bay Rays to the AL Wild Card Game. Moreover, Tampa Bay beat the Oakland Athletics to advance to the ALDS, where the Rays took the ever-dangerous Houston Astros to a deciding Game 5. Considering the Rays’ liberal use of openers instead of traditional starters, a playoff run of any kind is impressive.

And yet, Baldelli’s Twins died by the home run as they lived by them in the regular season, all 307 of them. Boone’s Yankees handled them quickly in a three-game ALDS sweep. Similarly, though the Rays were in first-place into June, New York won the season series 12-7.

These two managers were good but when the games actually mattered, Aaron Boone was the better man.

Managing through injuries

Also, let’s not forget Boone never really had all of his starting lineup and rotation for most of the season. Giancarlo Stanton was limited to 18 games with knee, bicep, and calf injuries. Aaron Judge missed two months with a strained oblique. Luis Severino didn’t pitch in a game until September thanks to lat and shoulder trouble.

And yet, the Yankees kept winning. Cameron Maybin hit .285 with 11 home runs in a reserve role. Mike Tauchman posted 12 defensive runs saved in the outfield. Midseason acquisition Edwin Encarnacion‘s “walking the parrot” home run trot became a dugout celebration.

Any other manager would have leaned into the injuries and accepted the season as mostly lost. But these New York Yankees refuse to lie down and die under any circumstances under Aaron Boone’s watch. They tried it when Judge broke his wrist last year and was rewarded with a swift playoff exit at the hands of the hated Boston Red Sox.

Instead, New York fought through the injuries and still managed to hit 306 home runs as a team. Think about this number for a second. The New York Yankees broke their own record set last season, with both Stanton and Judge missing significant time with injuries. And the team won 103 games in the process, not to mention its first AL East crown since 2012.

All signs point to Boone getting the team this far not because of great luck, but because he’s a strong manager.

Final thoughts

And admittedly, there were going to be a lot of eyes on Aaron Boone this season. He won 100 games as a rookie skipper, but New York was constantly outplayed by the Boston Red Sox. On top of that, the team showed no fight when trailing in most games.

This season has been the polar opposite. Boone clearly looked at decisions he made in 2018 which might have hurt the team. He turned the Yankees from young and inexperienced into a well-oiled baseball machine.

This all comes down to one point: Aaron Boone is undoubtedly the AL Manager of the Year. He and the Yankees overcame so much to get where they are now, whereas other teams would have just given up at some point.

But the Yankees never backed down from the challenge. In fact, they embraced it. Overcoming such heavy adversity takes not just talent, but a strong manager too.

Aaron Boone, with all he’s accomplished this season, is the strongest skipper of all. It’s time to reward him accordingly.

To do otherwise would just be wrong.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.