A deep dive into the Yankees’ $113.3 million struggles

josh donaldson, yankees
Jun 11, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson (28) reacts after hitting a deep fly ball for an out against the Boston Red Sox during the sixth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

As the New York Yankees navigate their 2023 season, they face distressingly poor offensive metrics. Their batting average, at a disappointing .230, positions them 24th in the league, while an on-base percentage below .300 barely sees them scrape into the 28th spot. This leaves them marginally ahead of the Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox.

The harsh reality that emerges from these figures is a potential absence from the postseason this year unless a significant turnaround happens. This would require reigniting the extraordinary batting prowess of superstar Aaron Judge and nurturing newfound confidence in currently struggling players.

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The High Price of Underperformance

Adding to the Yankees’ woes is the disproportionate sum they’re shelling out for lackluster performance, totaling a hefty $113.3 million.

Take Giancarlo Stanton, for example. He’s earning $32 million this season, which constitutes 11.44% of the entire team payroll.

Unfortunately, this high-priced outfielder, virtually ineffectual defensively, has managed a .204 batting average with a .267 OBP, alongside six homers and 13 RBIs over 25 games. A series of injuries have marred Stanton’s performance over the past few years, resulting in some of the worst statistics of his career.

High-Paid Underperformers: A Closer Look at Donaldson and LeMahieu

Josh Donaldson, a 37-year-old third baseman earning $21 million this season, is also experiencing a slump in his offensive performance. Over 17 games post-hamstring injury rehabilitation, he has a .151 batting average and .233 OBP, along with six homers, eight RBIs, a 28.3% strikeout rate, and a 91 wRC+. This could potentially prompt the Yankees to consider promoting Oswald Peraza to kindle competition with Anthony Volpe on the hot corner.

Another disappointing contributor this season is DJ LeMahieu, a 34-year-old utility infielder. Despite historically being a strong hitter, he currently suffers from a career-high 26.6% strikeout rate, a .232 batting average, and a .291 OBP. While his increased power is evident in the seven homers and 23 RBIs this year, LeMahieu’s elite contact quality seems to be missing.

Pitching Troubles: Montas, Rodon, and Severino

Turning the spotlight to the pitchers, the Yankees have three starters either yet to pitch a single inning this year or grappling with persistent challenges.

Brian Cashman, the team’s general manager, made a rather unsuccessful trade over the past few seasons, acquiring Frankie Montas from the Oakland Athletics. Montas, who joined the Yankees carrying a shoulder injury, hasn’t contributed an inning this year and recorded a 6.35 ERA across 39.2 innings in 2022 with the Yankees.

Following Montas, Carlos Rodon, a 30-year-old who recently signed a six-year, $162 million deal, has yet to make his mark on the mound. Lastly, Luis Severino, whose $15 million club option was accepted by Cashman, struggles with his pitching accuracy despite boasting enhanced velocity.

The Road Ahead for the Yankees

If Severino, among others, doesn’t manage to reverse his current trajectory, the Yankees could face severe consequences. Given his consistent injuries and underwhelming performance this season, the likelihood of the Yankees renewing his contract post the 2023 season seems highly unlikely. It remains to be seen how the rest of the season unfolds for this struggling baseball team.