Just when the Yankees were starting to enjoy the return of slugger Giancarlo Stanton, just when he’d started to look like the middle-of-the-lineup force of old, just when the sight of him looming over the plate like a comic book monster started to lose its weird nostalgic charm, the universe has stepped in and yanked him back out of service. It was fun while it lasted!
The Yankees really have had some extraordinarily bad injury luck this season. According to Spotrac, 22 Yankees have already spent a total of 1,151 days on the injured list in 2019, the most in baseball. Every year some poor team has to win this grim statistic, but you’d hope that the team that does so doesn’t wake up on June 26 with a lead of more than 200 games on the next most snake-bit team in the majors. By way of contrast, 16 MLB teams finished with fewer than 1,151 player days accrued on the DL/IL across all of last regular season. The Yankees have already spent more than $38 million in salary on inactive players, with more than half of the season to go—that’s more than $10 million more than the next closest team.
It hasn’t all been Stanton. Aaron Judge has missed more than half of the season so far; Didi Gregorius missed 65 games; Luis Severino is all torn up and dead. But the largest chunk of that injured list salary has gone to Stanton, who’d already missed 70 games this season entering Wednesday night. Stanton played 317 regular season games over the last two seasons; this year he’s played nine. The list of ailments is broad and gruesome: a strained left calf, a strained left shoulder, and a torn left biceps. Stanton was initially put on the 10-day injured list back on April 1 for the biceps, but the calf and shoulder injuries happened during rehab, extending his absence until it finally covered a whopping two and a half months.
Stanton finally returned to action last Tuesday. He smashed a huge, brontosaural dinger on Monday, and drove in seven runs over his last two full games. Because it’s the last Stanton home run we might see for a while, please enjoy the hell out of this one:
Things were very much looking up, and now they have gone back to shit. In the bottom of the first inning of Tuesday night’s win over the Toronto Blue Jays, Stanton tried to take an extra base on a grounder to the left side and bonked into third baseman Clayton Richard. At first everything looked fine, but Stanton was later pulled from the game, with the Yankees describing a right knee contusion. Ominously, the Yankees scheduled an MRI for Wednesday morning. Predictably, the injury is worse than it at first appeared. At least this time it’s to the right side of his body, for a change:
It’s listed as another 10-day trip to the injured list, but according to an ESPN report no one with the Yankees actually expects Stanton to return on that timeline.
New York manager Aaron Boone said it’s likely Stanton will be sidelined for longer than 10 days.
“It’ll be more than that,” Boone said. “That’s when the reevaluation kind of happens.”
The Yankees recently added beefy masher Edwin Encarnación to their lineup, and they also recently sent a deeply bummed Clint Frazier down to the minors. Any team is improved the moment they slot Stanton into their lineup, but the Yankees are uniquely constructed to survive this loss. That is, until someone else’s body comes flying apart, which, judging by the way this season has gone so far, should be any day now.