Giancarlo Stanton tricked broadcasters, fans, and even, seemingly, himself when two of his three hard-hit balls didn’t go for home runs in the AL wild-card game at Fenway Park.
The sixth-inning rocket off the top of the Green Monster, which turned into a single that got Aaron Judge thrown out at home instead of a potential game-tying homer, especially frustrated Stanton.
“That probably would have left most anywhere,” Stanton said after the Yankees’ loss.
Statcast disagreed — the estimated 400-foot shot would have been a home run in only 11 of 30 MLB parks, per MLB.com — and to assume that the exact same batted ball and situation would have taken place had the game been held at Yankee Stadium is an oversimplification.
But the Yankees had plenty of chances in the regular season to find that out for themselves instead of being left to wonder “what if?” It only would have taken one more win.
“That’s a shoulda, woulda, coulda game that you can play,” Stanton said. “Each game counts, doesn’t matter if it’s in March, April. All we needed was one more and we would have this at home. They will come back to bite you.”
The Yankees have various issues to address this offseason to make sure they are not in the same position again next year. Three of them were on display in the wild-card loss:
The Yankees ran into tough pitching in Nathan Eovaldi, but their two-run effort was just the latest chapter of a wildly inconsistent offense. The two runs Tuesday came from solo home runs from Anthony Rizzo and Stanton, but otherwise the Yankees mustered just four singles.
On the way to averaging 4.39 runs per game — 19th in MLB — the Yankees went through stretches when their offense looked like it was expected to and others when it went silent.
While Stanton and Judge largely carried the offense over the final weeks to make sure they barely snuck into the playoffs, the rest of the lineup often failed to carry its own weight.
“We didn’t score the runs like we normally would, so we’ve got to examine a lot of things and where can we help guys that are going to be back here, where can we help them get better individually,” manager Aaron Boone said. “Are there things we can do to help them? Obviously there will always be some personnel shake-ups, and roster construction gets a little bit different each and every year and hopefully it all works to be a slightly better fit.
“But this was overall just tough for us to really be the offensive juggernaut we’ve kind of come to expect, and I’m not sure why we didn’t realize our potential there.”
It’s a question the Yankees must answer this offseason.
Outs at home
Judge getting thrown out at the plate, on an aggressive send by third-base coach Phil Nevin, wasn’t an outlier for the Yankees. During the regular season, they tied the Royals for the league-lead by running into 22 outs at home.
Not all of those are on Nevin, but it remains to be seen whether he will get a chance to improve on that next season as he, Boone and the rest of the staff remain in limbo.
AL East woes
Perhaps it was fitting that the Yankees’ season ended with a loss to the Red Sox, in a year when they could not take care of business within their own division — including against the Sox, who earned the 10-9 advantage in the regular season to get home-field advantage.
It was a stacked AL East, with four teams winning 90-plus games, but the Rays (51-25), Red Sox (41-35) and Blue Jays (42-34) each had winning records within the division. The Yankees (36-40) did not, failing to feast on the Orioles like the other three teams did — going just 11-8 against the 52-win team that tied for the worst record in baseball.