New York Yankees: 2021 will be a make-or-break year for Mike Tauchman

Andres Chavez
Mike Tauchman, New York Yankees
Apr 16, 2019; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees left fielder Mike Tauchman (39) watches his three-run home run against the Boston Red Sox during the sixth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

In a year in which the New York Yankees didn’t have Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton for a sizable portion of the regular season, Mike Tauchman, who had broken out in 2019 with a .277/.361/.504 line and a 128 wRC+, failed to secure even semi-regular playing time because of his underwhelming performance.

He didn’t take advantage of Brett Gardner’s prolonged slump to start the season, either. While Clint Frazier broke out in a big way and did capitalize on the opportunity he was presented, Tauchman slumped to a paltry .242/.342/.305 line with a .286 wOBA and a 79 wRC+.

When he played, he got on base at a similar clip to 2019 (in fact, he upped his BB% from 11.5 to 12.6 percent) and had a decent .342 OBP despite his ugly average. But he was a complete liability in the power department, with no home runs and an inability to even hit a fastball. His role with the New York Yankees in 2021 and beyond is not clear at this point.

Even Tauchman’s defense, which made him an elite left fielder and a passable center fielder in 2019, declined in 2020. He had a -3.4 defensive rating (adjusted by position) in Fangraphs and his Outs Above Average performance declined from the 95th percentile to the 69th percentile, per Baseball Savant.

The Yankees have some hope

Yes, Tauchman remains a very fast player, but if he’s not able to produce offensively, the Yankees need him to, at the very least, regain some of the defensive prowess that made him excel last year.

He has things working in his favor. In 2019, he hit 13 homers in less than 300 plate appearances. He has some power, and some mechanical adjustments and some work in the offseason could pay off.

Additionally, he has several years of cheap team control remaining, and with Gardner’s role uncertain for next year and Judge and Stanton being injury risks, he could have some value for the Yankees. They should retain him, but 2021 will be a make-or-break year for Mike Tauchman.