As the New York Yankees prepare to start spring training on February 17, position battles will also take place. The starting roster can easily be projected, but that doesnâ€™t mean weaknesses aren’t present.
General manager Brian Cashman feels confident that his team can reach the World Series, and he did make a few exciting acquisitions this off-season, including Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon.
However, the Yankees havenâ€™t reached the World Series in over a decade, indicating faults and liabilities at specific spots. Letâ€™s take a look at which positions could end up being obstacles in 2021.
Three potential weak links on the New York Yankees’ roster:
While I am convinced that Clint Frazier can hold down the left-field spot, we havenâ€™t seen enough action from him to justify confidence. Over 39 games in 2020, he recorded a .267 average with eight homes and 26 RBIs. Ultimately, the expectation is that he will thrive with more at-bats and consistently improve, but his strikeout rate is a bit elevated at about 29%.
Frazier was a Gold Glove finalist this past season after showing inadequacy in the defensive department in 2019. His development was exciting, and he finally proved his worth. He ultimately might be the reason the Yankees finally move on from veteran OF Brett Gardner. Nonetheless, it is hard to guarantee he will be consistent over a 162 game season, so Iâ€™m putting left field in this category because it is still a question heading into spring training.
Shortstop is another spot that could end up being a defensive liability in 2021. Last season, Gleyber Torres struggled at the position, recording a .933 fielding percentage. Considering the league average was .973, he was well below and could force the Yankees to look elsewhere in a shortstop heavy 2022 off-season.
Torres is an elite offensive threat, though, and while he did have a down season in 2020, he has already made two All-Star games in three years, so a bounce-back is expected. If he can elevate his game and cement the shortstop spot, the Yankees will be extremely happy. With that being said, Cashman is already indicated that Torres is a better second baseman, so he has some proving to do.
Another risky position is starting pitcher, as Cashman took an interesting approach this off-season. In the past, he has taken a more cost-efficient method, acquiring formerly injured players to fill gaps in the rotation. With Masahiro Tanaka, JA Happ, and James Paxton all departing this past off-season, he inserted Kluber and Taillon. Both pitchers haven’t featured in more than 37 innings over the past two seasons, so expecting them to come out of the gate firing is a bit optimistic. It will likely take them a few weeks to settle in, but if they can both play to their peak potential, the starting rotation will be just fine.
Based on the injuries, it is hard to remain confident with the starting pitching rotation, but thereâ€™s also a reason to be optimistic. If Domingo German and Luis Severino can make full returns, it has the potential to be one of the best in the MLB.