In the third edition of this “What to Watch For” segment (1st Base, Starting Pitchers), the Yankees prolific outfield will be hashed out, including some key things to watch for.
Depending on the pitching matchup, expect the Opening Day outfield to look like Brett Gardner in left, Aaron Hicks in center and Aaron Judge in right with Stanton as DH and Wade coming off the bench.
The 30 year old is the oldest position player on the roster and will bring two fairly unique things to the 2019 Yankees. First of all, he can bring experience, especially because he is the only remaining position player (Sabathia) remaining from the 2009 World Series team. Also, his lefty bat will try and balance out this righty-dominated lineup.
On the basepath, he is not as quick as he was in 2011 when he lead MLB in steals (49), but over the past six seasons, he has averaged 20 steals a year.
After being challenged by Clint Frazier before Spring Training, it looks as if he will retain that starting job out in left, especially after blasting two home runs against the Tigers on Mar 3.
The new face of the Yankees is looking to help propel these Baby Bombers to a 28th World Series, and their first in ten years. He immediately became one of the most feared hitters in the league, even with an “off” season homerun wise with 27 last season.
His strength allows him to power home runs to every part of the field, hopefully leading him to a second 50+ home run season. Judge feels this team will break its own home run record they set last season with 267, according to Bleacher Report. Judge can be instrumental in the quest to 268 homers with another monster year.
Last season, Judge decreased his strikeouts from 208 (which lead the league in 2017), to 152. This is an impressive feat for a young player to make such an impressive adjustment quickly reap the quantitative results.
Mike split his time evenly between DH and the outfield and divided his time in right and left evenly as well in 2018.
Watch for Stanton to get adjusted to the left side a little more this spring, and maybe get more time out in left during the regular season. Andujar’s liability in the field could push him to the DH spot while LeMahieu plays third, and Stanton plays outfield, especially with a lefty on the mound.
Stanton has lead the league in longballs twice, and already has 305 longballs in 9 seasons. Stanton and Judge could combine for 100 HRs if they both have their best seasons.
His closed off stance allows him to blast opposite field home runs.
It is a change he made in 2017 in Miami, but has paid off for him in New York as well with the short porch in right.
The man got paid! The Yankees served Hicks a 7 year, $70 million contract. While Hicks will eventually slide to left when Estevan Florial is ready for the majors and Gardner either retires or leaves, Hicks will continue to play a very good centerfield for the Yankees.
Hicks will look to use his paycheck as motivation to bring his defensive runs saved back to the positives. After a 15 Rdrs season in 2017, Hicks had -3 in 2018.
Here is Hicks’ stats compared to former Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams’s first 6 seasons:
Hicks: 596 G, 70 HR, .724 OPS, 10.4 WAR
Williams: 681 G, 70 HR, .804 OPS, 18.4 WAR
Wade looks to fill a utility role for the Yankees and exit camp on the major league roster. His hitting looks to have improved after a tough 2018 campaign.
He hit .167 with 1 homer and a .1 WAR.
His ABs have looked a lot better this spring and he looks stronger as well. His defensive versatility will give him a lot of value for the Yankees and he is outplaying Frazier right now for the final roster spot.
In 66 games, he has player a majority at second base, with 14 games in the outfield. That is why he is included in this WTWF for the outfield even though he is primarily an infielder.
If he struggles and Frazier plays well in AAA, things could change in May or June.
I gave Frazier a close look in his own blog post, and things looked a lot more optimistic for Frazier before camp started. He has struggled at the plate, and took a pitch off his forearm and finger in a game on Mar 3.
After publicly saying he wanted the starting job, it looks like he will either have to seriously improve this Spring, or wait until injury or another player’s struggles allows him to prove his worth later in the season.
Featured Image: Robert Deutsch / USA TODAY Sports; Dallas GLobe