Moneyball takes the Bronx – Yankees unleash data-driven outfield juggernaut
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The New York Yankees are gearing up for the 2024 baseball season with one of the most remarkable transformations in their outfield position group. Beyond the mere influx of financial resources and strategic trades, their improvements have been substantiated by data. According to a recent analysis by MLB.com, the Yankees stand out as the team with the most significant enhancements in the outfield, projecting a remarkable ascent from the 25th position at the conclusion of the previous season to the coveted top spot in the rankings for 2024.
The pivotal shift in the Yankees’ outfield dynamics can be attributed to a series of strategic maneuvers. The foremost among these was the acquisition of Juan Soto in a trade that unfolded in December. This monumental move was capped off with a groundbreaking one-year, $31 million deal for the 2024 season, marking Soto’s final arbitration year. Notably, this deal surpassed the previous record set by Shohei Ohtani at $30 million during the preceding offseason.
Juan Soto’s inclusion is backed by a stellar performance in 2023, where he boasted an impressive batting average of .275 along with a slash line of .410/.519/.930. With 35 home runs and 109 RBIs to his credit, Soto not only earned his third All-Star Game appearance but also achieved the feat of playing in every game throughout a season for the first time in his career. His remarkable season culminated in a sixth-place finish in the National League MVP voting.
The second prong of the Yankees’ outfield improvement came packaged with the Soto trade, bringing in outfielder Trent Grisham from the San Diego Padres. Grisham, a two-time Gold Glove recipient, carries a career batting average of .216. While his batting average dipped below .200 in the last two seasons, he brings an invaluable plus glove to the outfield. Positioned as a backup outfielder, Grisham adds depth to the team.
The third and final enhancement in the outfield comes in the form of Alex Verdugo, secured through a trade with the Boston Red Sox. Verdugo’s reputation for a reliable glove precedes him, and his 2023 performance underscores his all-around contribution with a batting average of .264, 13 home runs, and 54 RBIs. Impressively, he has consistently hit at least 30 doubles in each of the past three seasons.
When the 2024 season kicks off, the Yankees’ outfield is expected to feature a formidable trio of Soto, Verdugo, and Aaron Judge. Judge, the 2022 AL MVP, continues to be a linchpin in the lineup, having broken Roger Maris’ AL record for the most home runs in a season. With this revamped outfield, the New York Yankees have not only made significant strides on paper but have also positioned themselves as the team to watch in the upcoming season.