Harrison Bader in awe of Kiner-Falefa, considers him a vital piece in Yankees lineup

Harrison Bader and Kiner-Falefa

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NEW YORK – Isiah Kiner-Falefa is a versatile player for the Yankees, showcasing his ability to perform in multiple positions. Harrison Bader, who is equally good this season, has expressed his admiration for Kiner-Falefa’s performance, noting that he has been thoroughly impressed by what he has witnessed from him.

Although Kiner-Falefa’s primary comfort lies in playing the infield, particularly as a Gold Glove third baseman, he also finds pleasure in his outfield role, particularly alongside centerfielder Harrison Bader.

Kiner-Falefa expressed his enjoyment of playing alongside Bader in the outfield, describing it as a fun experience. He praised Bader for bringing a high level of energy and being actively involved in the game. Kiner-Falefa found it exciting to see the camaraderie and connection with his teammates on the field, ultimately leading to him having a great time playing the game at the moment.

Bader praised Kiner-Falefa’s incredible contributions, emphasizing the energy and valuable qualities he brings to the team. Regardless of the position he plays or his status in the lineup, Kiner-Falefa has made a significant impact due to his positive attitude and unwavering support for his teammates. Bader highlighted Kiner-Falefa’s eagerness to learn and his continuous engagement by asking questions, which reflects his character both on and off the field. Bader expressed his enjoyment in witnessing Kiner-Falefa’s journey and the tremendous value he adds to the team.

Kiner-Falefa’s turnaround

After a torrid 2022, where he lost both his shortstop position and the Yankees’ trust, Kiner-Falefa has a turnaround this season. So far in 2023, he has demonstrated his versatility by playing seven different positions for New York. Remarkably, he has covered all areas of the field except for first base and catcher.

Despite frequently switching positions, Kiner-Falefa’s offensive performance has remained unaffected. In fact, since June 1, he has recorded an impressive 21 hits in 68 at-bats, resulting in a batting average of .309. This notable performance led manager Aaron Boone to express his belief that Kiner-Falefa deserves increased playing time. As a testament to this, Kiner-Falefa was given the start at third base in the game against the Orioles, surpassing both Josh Donaldson and DJ LeMahieu in the lineup, who have been facing recent struggles at the plate.

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When Kiner-Falefa steps into the batter’s box, he experiences a sense of liberation and freedom, according to his own words.

Kiner-Falefa expressed his perspective, stating that he doesn’t feel the need to exert unnecessary pressure or force anything when batting. He emphasized the importance of being true to himself and feeling a sense of value to the team. This recognition of his value instills confidence, enabling him to approach each at-bat with the assurance to swing freely.

Isiah Kiner-Falefa, known for his versatility as a utility player, has been in exceptional form at the plate as of late. His impressive performance has played a significant role in his team’s recent success, as they have secured victories in seven out of their last ten games.

Over his previous seven games leading up to Wednesday, Kiner-Falefa has demonstrated remarkable performance at the plate, accumulating 10 hits in 24 at-bats for an impressive batting average of .417. Additionally, he has maintained a high on-base percentage of .484 and a solid slugging percentage of .625 during this period. Taking a wider perspective, across the last 15 games, Kiner-Falefa has showcased consistent batting skills with a slash line of .333/.391/.538. Looking at his performance over the past 30 games, he has maintained an impressive batting average of .322 along with a .357 on-base percentage and a .433 slugging percentage. Notably, he has recorded two home runs and driven in 17 runs during this stretch.

Kiner-Falefa’s contributions have been crucial in bolstering the Yankee offense, particularly in light of Judge’s absence since June 4. Judge’s absence was a result of his remarkable catch at Dodger Stadium, where he crashed through the right field fence.

In the broader scope, Kiner-Falefa’s season statistics showcase a slash line of .262/.308/.393, resulting in a respectable OPS of .701. Throughout the season, he has recorded five home runs and driven in 23 runs.

Alongside his offensive contributions, Kiner-Falefa offers substantial defensive value due to his versatility in various positions. He exhibits proficiency at third base, shortstop, as well as in the outfield, capable of playing both left field and center field.

Given Josh Donaldson’s difficulties at the plate, reflected in his batting average of .131, Kiner-Falefa may have an opportunity to secure additional playing time at third base if he continues his impressive hitting performance.

Aaron Judge is seen congratulating Yankees' central fielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa after his outstanding an defensive save against the Angels at Yankee Stadium on April 20, 2023.

Manager Boone admired the Yankees’ utility star

Boone acknowledged Kiner-Falefa’s exceptional performance, highlighting his impressive contributions across various positions. Specifically, Boone emphasized his excellence in the outfield, where he has been playing extensively. Additionally, Kiner-Falefa has been praised for his strong performance at third base when given the opportunity. Boone commended Kiner-Falefa for playing a high-quality style of baseball at the moment.

Boone expressed his satisfaction with Kiner-Falefa’s at-bats, noting the valuable speed element that he brings to the game. Looking ahead, Boone mentioned that they will continue to assess the situation and make decisions accordingly. He emphasized that Kiner-Falefa has earned a significant amount of playing time, highlighting his versatility to play multiple positions. Boone further added that he feels confident in deploying Kiner-Falefa at any position on the field.

During a recent press conference, Yankees manager Aaron Boone expressed his admiration for utility player Isiah Kiner-Falefa, lauding him as an indispensable asset to the team.

Boone took the opportunity to highlight Kiner-Falefa’s selfless nature, emphasizing his willingness to fulfill any role assigned to him. Furthermore, Boone acknowledged Kiner-Falefa as an integral component of any team, recognizing his versatility and dedication to doing whatever is necessary for the team’s success.

Boone expressed that character reveals itself consistently in the game of baseball, including in the case of Kiner-Falefa. He noted that Kiner-Falefa’s character has demonstrated his desire to contribute to a team, particularly a winning team, and be an integral part of the Yankees’ success.

Boone’s initial introduction to Kiner-Falefa occurred in 2022 when the latter joined the New York Yankees after his tenure with the Texas Rangers. Since then, Kiner-Falefa’s team-oriented mindset appears to have had a profoundly positive impact on his performance and overall success.

Concluding his remarks, the manager acknowledged Kiner-Falefa’s tireless dedication to honing his skills, particularly his commendable defensive work in various positions. Additionally, the manager praised Kiner-Falefa’s tenacity and his constant pursuit of personal growth, always striving to improve and evolve as a player.

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