With the injury to Yankees’ center fielder Aaron Hicks, the Yankees have a bigger problem than what already existed in the outfield.
Hicks had a slow start to the season, but as I outlined in my piece last week he had been playing much better leading up to the injury that landed him on the IL.
Leftfield has been a problem for the team all year. Clint Frazier and Brett Gardner have not produced at the plate. Frazier sits at a well below average 71 wRC+ while struggling defensively as well. Gardner sits at an even worse 54 wRC+. Miguel Andujar has also gotten some time in left field, but that is not his natural position and before his two-hit game against the Rangers last night he was also struggling at the plate.
MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reported that the Yankees will be focusing on adding a lefty bat in a trade this year, and there are a couple of names that have been thrown out there. In discussions, I have noticed that fans are resistant to make a move for some of the few players that would fit the need.
This was something I want to address because clearly some of these names fans do not like are big improvements from what the Yankees have in the outfield.
The #Yankees will prioritize left-handed bats at the @MLB Trade Deadline. The team of Ruth, Gehrig, and Reggie has the worst OPS of any lineup in the majors from the left side this season. @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) May 17, 2021
The Yankees are not in a position to be picky here, there is not going to be some star player they could pick up especially with the Yankees trying to stay under the luxury tax threshold of $210 million.
Out of all the names, the one that people seem most resistant to is Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo. Before I go into why Gallo would be a big improvement I would like to say that I understand why people are resistant to him coming to the Yankees.
Gallo strikes out a ton, nearly 35% this year, and is the poster child for what is called “three true outcomes” baseball.
Asked around league circles to see OF that are available when discussing the Yankees. David Peralta, Joey Gallo, Charlie Blackmon & Anthony Santander were named. One scout said the best fit for NYY is either Peralta or Santander. Thinks Joey Gallo could work despite K concerns
— Dan Federico (@DanJFederico) May 18, 2021
While I agree with the notion that the direction the sport is going in with three true outcomes is not as entertaining as in the past, I can separate the fact that strikeouts do not hurt you as much as many think, and the statistics back that up. The sport being fun to watch and wanting the Yankees to win as much as possible are two separate conversations.
The Yankees’ two best hitters are Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. Two incredibly productive players who strike out a lot. Judge has consistently hovered around a 30% strikeout rate in his career, including in 2017 when he finished second in MVP voting. Stanton is also in that same ballpark, maybe slightly lower. Judge is striking out a bit less in 2021 than he usually is, but Stanton is right in line with his career average. Judge has an incredible 174 wRC+, while Stanton has a very good 144 wRC+.
Both of these players are highly productive despite the high strikeout rates. Gallo obviously is not on their level, but he is currently sitting at a 115 wRC+ which is above average and a huge improvement over Frazier and Gardner.
This also goes without mentioning that Gallo’s power fits Yankee stadium’s short right field and would help with the lack of lefty hitters the Yankees have. In addition to that Gallo likely brings a defensive upgrade from Frazier. He has played all three outfield spots as well as first and third base in his career. Lastly, Gallo is making just over $6 million a year and there could easily be a way to fit him under the luxury tax.
Knowing all of this information it is indisputable that Gallo is an upgrade from what the Yankees have.
I can admit that his strikeout rate is something that would not be fun to watch at many times, but that is not a reason to say no to a clear upgrade at a position of need on a team that has World Series aspirations.
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