Yankees manager Aaron Boone looks on before an MLB game...

Yankees manager Aaron Boone looks on before an MLB game between the Yankees and the Angels at Yankee Stadium on Monday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Aaron Boone was the first manager in history to win at least 100 games in each of his first two seasons.

Not just for the Yankees. Any team, any time.

Two years later, Boone presides over the most underachieving team in the sport. Or at least the biggest disappointment.

So what changed? Is Boone suddenly a bad manager? Is the roster that much worse?

We’d suggest a third option: That it’s entirely possible that Boone, in his fourth season, might not be the right manager for these Yankees, a team that appears to lack focus and a sense of urgency, given their situation.

"Our season’s on the line," Boone said before Monday’s game against the Angels.

And how did his Yankees respond? By sleepwalking through a 5-3 yawner that didn’t really feel that close. They hit two homers but had only one baserunner after Giancarlo Stanton’s two-out blast in the sixth. Their fourth straight loss dropped them 7 1⁄2 games behind the first-place Red Sox, who swept them over the weekend.

Afterward, I asked Stanton if he feels as if they are hanging Boone out to dry.

"There’s always one to point the finger at, whether it’s deserving or not," he said. "And we’re the ones performing, so you can’t put that on him. I don’t think it’s fair to put the blame on him."

Boone is the same guy who won those 203 games in his first two seasons. He’s probably better now, based on the experience he’s gained since taking this job. The difference is these players, who often behave as if they already have an automatic bid to the October tournament.

But that falls on Boone, too. Teams can be a reflection of their manager, and maybe Boone’s laid-back, uber-positive persona isn’t the vibe these cruise-control Yankees need on their bench. In 2018 and 2019, Boone was the perfect antidote for the tightly wound Joe Girardi, and those Yankees were hungry. Brian Cashman’s rebuild got done in record time, and everyone believed the title was so close, they could taste it.

But 2021 has flipped that script. The Yankees opened this year as the AL’s presumptive World Series favorite, but now the trophy only moves further away as they keep sliding backward. While the composition of the roster is Cashman’s responsibility, the GM entrusts the team’s performance to Boone and his coaching staff.

Look at what happened in Boston. Little was expected from the Red Sox heading into this season, but the return of Alex Cora from his one-year suspension has provided a jolt that has revived the team. The Sox play like Cora’s personality: aggressive, smart, relentless and with an undeniable edge. Cora’s crew exposed the Yankees, doing everything their bewildered guests could not.

The Yankees, on the other hand, are more like Boone. They’re hung up on track records, expecting the same performance that propelled them to the playoffs the previous three seasons. Maybe Cashman is realizing his mistake in bringing back essentially the same roster that lost to the Rays last October. But as the GM considers what he can do on the fly to fix this, Boone is stuck with turning things around at the field level, where it hasn’t been pretty.

"I still am not ready to abandon core things that we believe in as a group and as a team, especially the makeup of our team and what we expect to be," Boone said.

What the Yankees are is a fundamentally suspect bunch who ground into double plays at an alarming rate (76, second only to the Astros), make too many outs on the basepaths (33, tops in MLB) and score only 3.99 runs per game.

For every decent streak the Yankees go on, it’s routinely followed by an inexplicable crash.

Is that Boone’s fault? Hard to say. He’s doing what he’s always done. The players have too often looked like pinstriped impostors through the first three months.

Cashman is proud that he’s never fired anyone in the middle of a season, and we don’t expect that to change with Boone. But if this team doesn’t somehow get to October — FanGraphs had them at a 41% chance — Boone will face the consequences.

"The history of the game is littered with teams that have overcome far bigger deficits than us," Boone said.

As well as the ex-managers who didn’t.