While the Yankees are beginning to gel as a team, offensively, there are certain players they need more from. These three can close the gap.
When we look at the Yankees offensively this year, some easy facts readily come to mind.
- The ability of Aaron Boone to count on both Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton healthwise has added stability to the lineup while also reaping the rewards of their production.
- The failures of both Aaron Hicks and Gary Sanchez have weakened the team as a whole, but given their salaries, the Yankees have no immediate recourse but to continue running them out there.
- For reasons only the gods know, Clint Frazier has been unable to display the talent the Yankees know he has since his promotion as their regular left-fielder.
- The Yankees have no one, with the possible exception of Estevan Florial, who is lighting it up in the league at Double-A, in their farm system ready to step into their lineup if one of the above was to be traded, sent down, or released.
Nevertheless, the Yankees are putting together a stretch of games that, while they do not recall the days of the Bronx Bombers, are totaling up the wins with a hit here and a hit there that equates to a win no matter how “un-pretty” it is.
Having said that, three players have the ability to spark the team, even with the roadblocks above.
Here’s a shot at those three and why the Yankees need them most…
1) Yankees Third Baseman Gio Urshela
With Gio Urshela, it’s not a question of the Yankees asking more from him. Instead, it’s that the Yankees need him to keep doing what he’s doing.
Largely unnoticed in the Yankees recent surge is the seven-game hit streak, together with 20 consecutive games in which Urshela has gotten on base,
A batting average that once stood at .250 has now risen to .294, while ten of his 32 hits have been for extra bases. Moreover, his 16 RBI are third on the team, behind only Judge (19) and Stanton (24).
Urshela’s consistency is beginning to remind me of DJ LeMahieu, the mark of a true professional hitter in this league.
Adding to Urshela’s value is his ability to move from his home at third base over to shortstop, a position that Aaron Boone is getting ever more comfortable in playing him.
Role players win games. Rarely in the spotlight, though day-today they become an integral part of a winning team. Urshela’s that guy.
2) Yankees First Baseman Luke Voit
Voit’s league-leading 22 home runs last year (projected to 55 over a full season) are not thought to have been a fluke.
His return to play in Tampa this week following a knee injury in spring training that turned out to be a partially torn meniscus that required surgery has been lackluster (0-6 with a walk), but Voit is back, and that’s the main thing when it comes to the Yankee’s lineup.
Known to be a fiery presence on the field and in the Yankees clubhouse, Voit, very much like Brett Gardner, has those “intangibles” that are rare to find and very much valued.
Voit’s presence in the lineup means there are no “pitch-around’s” in the two thru four spots in the Yankees lineup.
Moreover, Voit controls himself at the plate, having better than a one-for-three chance of getting on base (.363 OBP) over his career, thereby giving the Yankees a chance to “keep the line moving” during a rally.
3) Yankees Shortstop Gleyber Torres
No Yankee has been under the microscope more than Gleyber Torres this year or last.
Torres received public demerits from Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman last year when he reported to camp in what was said to be an overweight condition.
True or not, as far as an adverse effect on Torres last year, he went on from there to have a regressive season with the Yankees.
That, perhaps rightly so, was poo-poohed by the Yankees as an outlier given the corona-induced shortened season, as was the case with many players who were never able to get off the ground.
Moving forward to this year, though, Torres has not moved forward in the field, while his bat has yet to awaken to the heights of his 2019 season.
So far this year, Torres has managed only six extra-base hit in 132 at-bats with one home run and an OPS of .625, a full two-hundred points behind the standard he set in 2019.
Largely suspected of poor fielding a shortstop, though, Torres continues to hold his own with a .965 percentage among active shortstop, including Corey Seager (.968), who is expected to be one of the many competitors for his job when the free-agent market opens at year’s end.
Gleyber Torres is not one of those over-hyped talents who managed to burst on the major league scene at the age of 21, only to fail when the lights dimmed, and there were real and talented pitchers to deal with.
But he does occupy a space in the Yankee lineup, and for that, Torres needs to weigh in more than he is.
With Kyle Higashioka handling the catching duties more often than not now, and with his spirited but still limited offense abilities, Torres represents the key to the lower half of the lineup that is supposed to pick up the upper half when it fails.
Still only 24, “The Kid” can be given some leeway – except for the fact he plays for the New York Yankees, not the Detroit Tigers…
Lest It Is Forgotten…
In the intro, we talked about the players who have yet to make a meaningful contribution to the Yankees this year, while giving adequate playing time (Sanchez, Hicks, Frazier), but realistically, they cannot be counted on for a miracle that will negate their current plight.
Hopefully, one or possibly even two will rise to help the team in a big way before this thing is over, but who among us would wager a bet it will happen?
My confidence and I think if you pulled Aaron Boone into a corner in a hotel lobby, he will say the same, rests with the three players cited above.
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