Early in this shortened season, the New York Yankees have made a statement by becoming the best team in baseball, very quickly. One reason why is new pitching ace Gerrit Cole who has won all three of his starts. The other reason is the emerging “Fearsome Foursome,” consisting of DJ LeMahieu, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and yes, Gio Urshela, who are all outperforming their 2019 season, when the Yankees won 103 games.
One good reason for this is that both Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, as of now, are both healthy. DJ LeMahieu is leading the club with a .412 batting average with two home runs in eight games. One of the reasons he’s in the foursome is that he has picked up right where he left off last year when he was named the team’s MVP. He hits for power, but more importantly, his defense is excellent, and he gets on base. His OPS is 1.046.
All of our Fearsome Foursome have OPS’s ( OPS adds on-base percentage and slugging percentage to get one number that unites the two. It basically indicates the ability to get on base, of over 1.000. Slugger Aaron Judge leads that pack with an OPS of 1.270. Judge may be having the best season of his career.
Judge, after having rib issues, resulting from a fractured rib, caused by a diving catch late last season, has dominated. Early on, he received treatment in spring training but was slow to recover. With the delay of the start of the season, he was able to recover in time to start the season. Although he didn’t hit a home run in his first three games, he did bat .334, which was encouraging, showing that he was healthy. Since then, he has gone on a rip, hitting six home runs in six games, with 14 RBIs. He looks like he’s on his way to duplicating his 2017 season, and the early on 2020 MVP.
It shouldn’t be a surprise, but to many, it is Gio Urshela, who is proving his 2019 season was no fluke. Urshela shocked the baseball world when he came up from the minors, and defended at the hot corner with Graig Nettles’ ease. He shocked New York Yankee fans when he showed his timely and powerful hitting at the plate, something that was unexpected. At the start of this season, he has made some amazing plays at third and has hit three home runs in just four games driving in nine Yankees. His OPS is a team second at 1.067.
The fourth stand-out in this foursome is Giancarlo Stanton, who is having a season, at least at the start, that seems to be replicating his 2017 MVP season with the Marlins. Stanton is healthy and has the fourth-best batting average of New York Yankees that have played in at least eight games. He has had two homers, one at nearly 500′ while hitting two doubles, and having much better plate discipline. With 27 at-bats he has only struck out seven times. His batting average this season so far is .296, and his OPS is 1.065.
So, who are the losers?
One loser early on in the season is not surprising, the other two are quite surprising. Gary Sanchez is a mess again this season. Although his defense has improved, he apparently can’t see the ball. He has 14 strikeouts and only one hit for a batting average of just .080, playing in eight games. The Yankees are hopeful he will improve as he can be a powerful bat behind the plate. Where his season goes from here is anyone’s guess.
The other two Yankees’ players off to a slow start are last year’s home run leader Gleyber Torres and the powerful bat known as Miguel Andujar. Torres has one homer but is batting just .179. Andujar is even worse with only one hit and a batting average of just .125. Both of these players are far too good to continue at this pace. But in this short season, the Yankees need both to click and get into form quickly.
Who’s applying for the “Fearsome Foursome”?
Brett Gardner and Mike Tauchman are starting to look very good in this young season. Gardner started out slow but has two homers in his last three games. His defense is as good as ever and shows no sign of slowing on the bases. Last season Gardner had a career-high 28 home runs. With the outfield options, the Yankees have this year, Gardner will probably not play in as many games this year.
Mike Tauchman continues to impress as one of the few lefty bat options at the plate. The T-man has proved he is dependable in the outfield and a player behind the plate that pitchers can’t take for granted. Tauchman has only played in five games so far this year but has three hits for a batting average of .333. He has also proved his worth with three stolen bases in only 9 at-bats. It is this writer’s opinion he will improve with more games being played.
This season may very well go down in history as one of the strangest baseball seasons in history. One season storyline may very well be the emergence of the 1927-like Murder’s Row, the 2020 “Fearsome Foursome,” only time will tell.
EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam