Mike Tauchman is one of the Yankees pointed to as a reason not to panic when injuries hit this Spring. But one hit in twenty-seven tries is raising concern.
Thought to be (at a minimum) the Yankees fourth outfielder coming into this year’s Spring Training, there is concern he may not even make the team.
Playing all three outfield positions over 87 games, Tauchman delivered 13 home runs and 47 RBI in roughly a half season’s work.
The Yankees still need Mike Tauchman, but they also can’t ignore the Spring he is having. Sporting a .045 batting average with one measly single in 27 plate appearances, Mike Tauchman is raising eyebrows of the wrong kind in Yankees camp.
It Wasn’t Supposed To be this Way, But…
At a minimum, two-thirds of the Yankees starting outfield will not answer the bell in Baltimore when the 2020 season opens on March 26. Aaron Hicks (shoulder Tommy John) and Aaron Judge (stress rib fracture) are definitely out.
Giancarlo Stanton is taking baby steps to make it in time but remains a longshot at best.
Which means the Yankees are starting from scratch to compose their outfield.
Most days, veteran and “Ole Reliable” Brett Gardner will once again be called on to play out of position in centerfield.
This leaves one position from the active roster open, with a winner likely to be determined between Mike Tauchman and Clint Frazier.
Moving to the 40-man roster, we find Estevan Florial; the Yankees highly touted but injury-plagued 22-year-old Dominican.
But much like Tauchman, Florial is floundering in his quest to impress (.167 BA, with six strikeouts in 18 at-bats).
But the real cause of concern for both Mike Tauchman and Frazier is coming from an unlikely source.
Rosell Herrera (right) is lighting it up in Spring Training with gaudy numbers that are catching the eye of Aaron Boone.
But his .400 BA with ten hits and fifteen total bases in 25 tries at the plate is only part of Herrera’s story because he’s also the ultimate utility player capable of playing as many as five positions.
Mike Tauchman: Getting Hit From All Sides
Adding to the crunch on Mike Tauchman is the sudden emergence of what appears to be a maturing Clint Frazier.
Frazier is known to have had his differences with the Yankees and vice-versa, it was widely thought this (year) is it. Make it or break it for both sides.
In contrast to Mike Tauchman, Frazier is having a good Spring. His .304 BA, .452 on-base percentage, and 1.017 are more than enough to get the Yankees’ attention.
Frazier’s bane remains on defense, where he is still a work in progress.
Despite Tauchman’s awful Spring, his future with the Yankees probably rests in this assessment from Aaron Boone. “I think since he’s got here, I’ve really seen a guy that’s really done a good job of understanding his strengths.” (The Athletic – March 11, 2020)
Mike Tauchman: Willing To Listen And Learn
Some players “get it” and rise to new heights. While others wind up floundering when they meet resistance along the way, choosing to stick to the ways that brought them here – casting their fate to “I’ve never failed before”…
Mike Tauchman began with this question (to himself): “Why don’t I hit the ball farther? Why are guys smaller than me hitting the ball farther than me?”
And so began a student/teacher relationship between Tauchman and Justin Stone, the proprietor of Elite Baseball Training based in Chicago.
Stone immediately recognized Tauchman as a ballplayer who is “really a deep thinker. “His brain just works a little bit differently than a lot of hitters you’ll ever encounter.”
Bringing It All Back Home
And so, to bring it all back home, despite the disastrous Spring Training Mike Tauchman is having, he knows, and more importantly, perhaps, the Yankees know who he is and what he can do to help the team.
Despite the stories and rumors, one thing is for sure. Mike Tauchman will be one of the twenty-six players headed to Baltimore and likely to be seen on the Yankees lineup when it is posted.
Beyond that, who knows?
When the “real” Yankees outfield returns, the future of these extras like Tauchman, Frazier, Florial, and Herrera takes on a new light in which they are considered “expendable” in trade talks.
But then again, before the Yankees consider parting with any of these so-called depth players, maybe it’s time to take a cold hard look at their dream outfield, left to right (Stanton, Hicks, and Judge,) asking only if indeed – it is only a dream.
Which is why I’d bet the house Mike Tauchman indeed is a safer bet than the “Dream Team” of Stanton and Hicks, both health and production-wise. And if you want, add Clint Frazier too.