Last Updated on September 25, 2023 at 12:00 pm by Inna Zeyger
The New York Yankees are in a sea of problems. Right from an embarrassing Cashman to increasing injury incidents doomed their aspirations in 2023. Hal Steinbrenner is making a smart move by having an external audit of their problems to find the winning ways.
No offense to them, but it’s going to be quite a challenge to make the Yankees a competitive team again. Honestly, even if Gerrit Cole has a season where he’s considered the best pitcher and Aaron Judge has another excellent year, it hasn’t been enough to make the Yankees contenders. Before Saturday, they were very close to being officially eliminated from playoff contention, with just a “magic number” of two. However, the bad weather delayed their elimination because their game was postponed for the seventh time this season.
Here is an analysis of the major issues plaguing the Yankees and pinpointing of their most pressing concern amongst a plethora of problems.
The injury devil for the Yankees
The Yankees are still dealing with a lot of injuries. As of the weekend, they had 37 players on the injured list, which was the same as the Reds, and only the Giants (with 42) and the often unlucky Angels (with 38) had more. In terms of the number of days players spent on the injured list, the Yankees ranked third with 2,009 days, trailing behind the Dodgers (2,345) and the Angels (2,197). The Dodgers managed to overcome their injuries because they had players who performed better than expected and a strong bench. However, the Yankees don’t have as much depth; they are more like the Angels, who are known for relying heavily on a few star players. The only Yankee who significantly outperformed expectations was Gerrit Cole, who is a top contender for the AL Cy Young Award.
The lesser problems
The Yankees aren’t particularly known for their athleticism and excitement this season. They rank 20th in stolen bases with just 96, tied for 25th in triples with 13, and are dead last in doubles with 206. Despite these struggles, they still manage to attract fans thanks to their loyal following, although these fans often express frustration.
No offense to them, but it’s going to be quite a challenge to make the Yankees a competitive team again. Honestly, even if Gerrit Cole has a season where he’s considered the best pitcher (Cy Young) and Aaron Judge has another excellent year (well, at least two-thirds of a great year), it hasn’t been enough to make the Yankees contenders. Before Saturday, they were very close to being officially eliminated from playoff contention, with just a “magic number” of two. However, the bad weather delayed their elimination because their game was postponed for the seventh time this season (and to put it in perspective, they were delayed nine times at the beginning of the season and twice more during games).
It doesn’t seem like the Yankees have enough young players who are ready to make a big impact and turn things around. While Jasson Dominguez showed great promise in his recent brief appearance, he ended up injured (requiring Tommy John surgery) and won’t be back until early next season. Other young players have shown potential at times, but they may not be the saviors the team needs.
The stand-out issue
As demonstrated in Sunday’s 7-1 loss to Arizona, the Yankees struggle with hitting, which seems to be their biggest concern. They do hit home runs from time to time, but their batting average is the lowest among all the teams in Major League Baseball.
Their .226 batting average is only better than Oakland, the weakest team in MLB. This clearly indicates that the big hitters in the team are slumping. The Yankees’ current batting average is their lowest since 1968. That year was known for very low batting averages across the league, and it’s not a good statistic for any team, especially not for the most successful franchise in American sports history.
Many people agree that the Yankees made a good move by bringing in the always-optimistic Sean Casey as their hitting coach during the All-Star break. However, the problems they’re facing may be deeply rooted and not something that can be fixed quickly. In the past, there was a lot of talk about launch angles and exit velocities, which led everyone to believe they were all capable of hitting home runs, even though not everyone is.
As a result, their statistics have become so unimpressive that they can’t be ignored. They have eight players with over 50 plate appearances batting below .200. Even two former MVPs, Giancarlo Stanton and Josh Donaldson, were batting under .200, which is quite surprising.
Most of their younger players are batting below the Mendoza line, which is a batting average of .200, and this isn’t surprising because the focus on launch angles and hitting home runs starts in the minor leagues. Even with new rules meant to help improve batting averages, nearly all the players are performing worse than their career averages. The only exceptions are Kyle Higashioka, Gleyber Torres, Billy McKinney, and Estevan Florial.
In the Yankees’ annals, batting average has turned less important with increasing focus a high on-base percentage and hitting lots of home runs as part of the winning strategy. But it is difficult to overlook the batting average anymore as their season touches a historic low.
The Yankees made a wise move by giving young players an opportunity to see if they’re ready to contribute to the team in 2024. This experience has shown them that they should focus on signing free agents who have a history of hitting for a high average. Adding Cody Bellinger or Matt Chapman could be good choices to shore up the Yankees’ hitting.
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