It’s well understood that every team has to weather injuries throughout the regular season. If the New York Yankees are to live up to their ceiling — that is, to win the World Series — then they’re going to have to overcome a brutal stretch in the short term that will see them feature 12 players on the injured list. Yes, 12: on Friday the Yankees announced catcher Gary Sanchez would require a stint on the IL due to a strained calf.
Sanchez joins — are you ready for this? — Miguel Andujar, Troy Tulowitzki, Jacoby Ellsbury, Aaron Hicks, Giancarlo Stanton, Didi Gregorius, Jordan Montgomery, CC Sabathia, Luis Severino, Dellin Betances and Ben Heller on the shelf. Sabathia, for his part, will return to make a start on Saturday, dropping the number of inactive Yankees back down to 11.
Still, the Yankees have already lost a majors-leading 155 days to injury, per Spotrac. No other team is within two weeks of that total. As a point of comparison, three of the Yankees’ four division rivals — the Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles — have combined to lose 161 days to injury this season.
It’s not just the sheer quantity of injuries, either. The Yankees are legitimately having to go at it without many of their best players. They’re currently without their second, third, fourth, and fifth most-productive players from last season, using Baseball Reference’s WAR as a judge. Those players combined for about 20 wins. That’s without including Andujar or Betances.
It also doesn’t include Sanchez, who seemed well on his way to redeeming himself after a forgettable 2018. Sanchez had homered six times and had accumulated a 176 OPS+ in 45 trips to the plate. Last year, he didn’t hit his sixth home run until April 26 — or his 21st appearance.
The bad news for the Yankees is there’s no replacing Sanchez internally or otherwise — they’ll make due with Austin Romine and Kyle Higashioka. The good news is they should be okay if they can get healthy sooner than later. The scheduling gods, at least, seem to be working in New York’s favor: the Yankees will play three games against the White Sox this weekend to open a lengthy homestand. From there, they’ll host the Red Sox (for two) and the Royals (for four) before embarking on a three-city west-coast road trip.