Kiner-Falefa takes over third base, puts Josh Donaldson in a bind

Kiner-Falefa and Josh Donaldson of the New York Yankees.
Inna Zeyger
Wednesday July 5, 2023

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Yankees super-utility man Isiah Kiner-Falefa assumed the role in Tuesday’s 8-4 victory over Baltimore in The Bronx. While it has attested to a turnaround of his Yankees career, this could spell doom for Josh Donaldson, who is battling for his place in the team and under pressure from fans.

While Isiah Kiner-Falefa took to the third base, Josh Donaldson and DJ LeMahieu remained on the bench, adding to the ongoing fluidity of the situation. Despite his favorable statistics against Baltimore right-hander Kyle Gibson, Josh Donaldson was not included in the starting lineup for the game. Following the game, Aaron Boone confirmed that the player was in good physical condition.

The Yankees manager admitted the possibility of Isiah Kiner-Falefa getting more playing time at third base, considering his shift from third base to left field during the game when DJ LeMahieu took over for Jake Bauers. However, Boone also emphasized the value of Kiner-Falefa’s versatility, indicating that his ability to play multiple positions is highly regarded by the manager. This means Josh Donaldson has to battle to regain his place in the Yankees’ lineup, which looks distant considering his performance.

Boone expressed that the team will evaluate the situation moving forward. He acknowledged Kiner-Falefa’s impressive performance in various positions, including his experience in the outfield. The manager commended Kiner-Falefa’s overall contribution to the game, highlighting his quality at-bats and the added speed element he brings. Boone emphasized that the team would determine Kiner-Falefa’s position based on the team’s needs and circumstances in the future.

This may prove to be a big jolt to Josh Donaldson, which is under pressure and struggling to find his form.

It was acknowledged that Kiner-Falefa has earned a significant amount of playing time based on his performance and contributions to the team. On Tuesday, Kiner-Falefa recorded a double and a sacrifice fly, adding to his impressive recent performance. In his last 11 games, he has maintained a batting average of 13-for-32, scoring nine runs, hitting two doubles, two home runs, and driving in eight RBIs.

Josh Donaldson faces heat


Despite the ongoing speculation, Josh Donaldson continues to be a part of the Yankees roster. However, during the team’s 6-3 victory over Baltimore, he experienced the pressure and scrutiny from the enthusiastic sellout crowd.

Playing as the designated hitter, Josh Donaldson drew a walk in his initial plate appearance. However, he faced a less favorable response from the crowd as he received boos following his subsequent three at-bats, which resulted in two pop-ups and a groundout.

Josh Donaldson, who had been struggling at the plate, endured a challenging period during the Yankees’ previous homestand. He was caught in a slump, going 0-for-14, with a particular struggle in The Bronx where he failed to secure a hit in 11 at-bats across three games.

As of Monday, Josh Donaldson’s batting average stood at an exceedingly low .136, accompanied by an on-base percentage of a mere .191. The Yankees maintain optimism that the underlying statistics Josh Donaldson has generated this season will eventually manifest into tangible results.

The Yankees can highlight Josh Donaldson’s impressive 51.8 percent hard-hit rate, surpassing his career average of 47.8 percent, along with an expected slugging percentage of .579, contrasting with his current slugging percentage of .444 prior to Monday.

LeMahieu must win the Yankees trust

Dj LeMahieu of the New York Yankees is slamming his helmet after a disappointed game against the Mariners on June 23, 2023.
Charles Wenzelberg/NYP

LeMahieu, who has been facing difficulties as well, came off the bench in the seventh inning as a pinch hitter for Jake Bauers. He came close to driving in a run with a hit, but unfortunately, the ball landed foul. Nonetheless, he managed to draw a walk during that at-bat at Yankee Stadium.

LeMahieu has been enduring a slump for more than a month, posting a lackluster .446 OPS since May 28th.

Prior to the game, Boone indicated that he might consider shifting LeMahieu to a lower spot in the batting order until he regains his form at the plate.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

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2 thoughts on “Kiner-Falefa takes over third base, puts Josh Donaldson in a bind

  1. Too many Yankees having hitting problems. Anthony Voloe was fixed by minor league teammate instead of hitting coach. I coukd be wrong, but maybe Dillon Lawson should be guy on the move and bring in someone who was actually a 300+/- hitter in MLB career, a guy like Wade Boggs or somebody similar.

  2. DFA Donaldson ASAP stick with IKF. He’s better than Donaldson at this point and is a far better human as far as I can tell, better teammate too. DJ deserves more at bats to get him right even if it’s only for the playoffs. As far as Judge I’m torn, just like the tendon in his big toe. Want him to play, but big toe injury seems to have ruined DJ 🫤. Is making the playoffs worth that. Have surgery and be back next Spring training 🤷🏻

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