Holding on to a slight lead on Wednesday night, New York Yankees shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa made yet another error, losing the game for the Bombers after Shohei Ohtani launched a three-run homer in the bottom of the 6th inning.
Kiner-Falefa botched a routine ground ball, a play he must make if the Yankees are to rely on him during the postseason. However, following the game, manager Aaron Boone made an outrageous claim about IKF and his defensive quality this season.
Specifically, he stated that Kiner-Falefa is one of the best shortstops in baseball, which is simply untrue.
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“He’s been one of the best defenders in the league at shortstop,” Boone shot back. “Shortstops and infielders make an error every now and then. How many is that?”
How has Isiah Kiner-Falefa performed defensively for the Yankees?
On the season, IKF features a .971 fielding percentage with 12 errors over 999.2 innings played. Last season for the Texas Rangers, he featured a .972 fielding percentage, turning 88 double plays with 19 errors over 1360 innings. He’s produced 11 total defensive runs saved above average, but -1 Statcast fielding runs prevented.
“It’s a play you should make obviously,” Boone went on, “but he’s been one of the best defenders in the league. He didn’t make the play that time.”
Offensively, IKF has been a liability, hitting .231 with a 29.9% on-base rate in the month of August. However, his inability to get on base at an efficient clip significantly hurts his value, especially since he offers nothing in the slugging category. He features a .315 slugging percentage and has recorded just three barrels all season long.
The 27-year-old shortstop stated after the game that his error likely cost them a win. Acknowledging his mistake is honorable, but it doesn’t change the result or the many errors Anthony Rizzo has scooped out of the dirt, saving his statistics.
“I missed it,” he said. “No excuses. The play needs to be made in a big spot of the game. It cost us the game. I’m not happy about it. There’s nothing I can do now.”
At this point, there’s a strong argument to make that Oswaldo Cabrera should be serving as the everyday shortstop, especially if the Yankees have no interest in calling up Oswald Peraza.
Peraza is having a fantastic past few months, hitting .266 with a 34% on-base rate in August with four homers and 10 RBIs. He’s recorded 18 homers on the season and has strung together three consecutive months of MLB-caliber play.