The New York Yankees 2021 season ended on a sour note, as they were unable to top the Boston Red Sox, their biggest rivals, in the American League Wild Card Game.
They ended up disappointing, especially on offense, and finished eight games out of first place in the AL East.
Their offense couldn’t get much going against the Red Sox in the Wild Card Game, and Gerrit Cole, their top pitcher, couldn’t make it out of the third inning.
But one of the biggest problems in that game was a very lousy decision by third base coach Phil Nevin, when he sent Aaron Judge home from first base on a rocket single by Giancarlo Stanton off the Green Monster.
Had Nevin held Judge at third base, the Yankees would have been down 3-1 in the sixth inning with runners on the corners and one out.
Under that scenario, a rally would have been a strong possibility, and the Yankees had been able, at that point, to get starter Nathan Eovaldi out of the game.
A Rally-Killing Play
Instead, Judge was called out at home after a perfect play by Kike Hernandez and Xander Bogaerts, and the Yankees had a man at second, Stanton, but with two outs.
The New York Yankees have been eliminated from the postseason after a crushing loss in the American League Wild Card game. Was third base coach, Phil Nevin, wrong to send Aaron Judge home with only one out in a close game!? 👀 #SquadUp #DirtyWater pic.twitter.com/dsXcAmihFQ
— The K&K Sports Show (@TheKKSportsShow) October 6, 2021
During the play, Nevin waited until the very last second to send Judge.
The baserunner was almost at third base when Nevin finally sent him.
The play ended up being extremely costly from a run expectancy standpoint.
Here is an extract from a Sporting News article detailing the whole situation:
“The math also doesn’t support being aggressive in that type of situation. According to Baseball Prospectus’ 2019 run expectancy matrix (the most recent year with data), teams could expect to gain 1.22 runs with one out and runners on first and third, which assumes Stanton stays at first and doesn’t advance on Bogaerts’ throw to the plate. Conversely, the run expectancy of a runner on second and two outs is 0.34.”
A Costly Mistake
That mistake ended up costing Nevin his job, as the Yankees decided not to renew his contract for the 2022 season.
News: Yankees have also informed third base coach Phil Nevin that his contract will not be renewed for the 2022 season.
— Lindsey Adler (@lindseyadler) October 14, 2021
New York also announced that hitting coach Marcus Thames wouldn’t be returning, either, as they try to find a way to optimize and improve two problem areas in 2021: hitting and baserunning.
In reality, that fateful play against the Red Sox wasn’t the only reason why Nevin is no longer with the Yankees.
The Yankees made 22 outs at home plate during the regular season, the most in MLB along with the Kansas City Royals.
The third-ranked team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, had 19.
Additionally, the Bombers made 12 outs at third base, the fifth-most in the league.
Baserunning was a problem for New York all year long, and while perhaps not all of those runners out on the basepaths were Nevin’s fault (he was out for a brief period between May and June while battling COVID-19 and other ailments), it’s clear he isn’t part of the solution long-term.
The move was somewhat expected by most observers, and now, the Yankees can start looking for a more assertive decision-maker at third base.