In the last season he played at the Triple-A level, Tyler Wade had shown enough that the New York Yankees thought perhaps he was something more than a pinch-runner and defensive substitution candidate late in games. After all, in those 79 games and 335 plate appearances in AAA, Wade hit four home runs, has a 6.9 BB%, a 22.7 K% and slashed .296/.352/.425 with a .339 wOBA and a 99 wRC+. He also stole 13 bags.
With the Yankees’ big league team he had already failed in 2017 (.155/.222/.224 in 63 plate appearances) 2018 (.167/.214/.273 in 70 PA) and 2019 (.245/.330/.362, 87 wRC+.) But in 2020, he entered the season with some assured at-bats thanks to DJ LeMahieu being out with a bout of COVID-19.
Sadly for the New York Yankees, Wade couldn’t do much with those plate appearances. Overall, he slashed .170/.288/.307 with a .271 wOBA and a paltry 69 wRC+ in 52 games and 105 PA. Once again, it didn’t happen with Tyler Wade, and it’s time to realize that he may never realize his offensive potential.
He found ways to contribute to the Yankees, but…
Because of his defensive and baserunning prowess, the Yankees saw Wade contribute 0.3 fWAR in 2020. However, the offensive output was, once again, very disappointing. With an average exit velocity of 86.6 (in line with his career norms) he didn’t hit the ball harder. He lifted it a little bit more (career-high 1.05 GB/FB) but it wasn’t enough.
He did improve in a few areas, but these improvements were almost unnoticeable. He did post a career-high in BB% with 11.4 (higher than the 10.2 he finished with in 2019) and, despite a very bad .267 wOBA, he did have the highest xwOBA of his tenure with the Yankees, at .305. But when your best mark is .305, you still have a lot of work to do to reach respectability as a hitter.
Tyler Wade is a very good defender (in several positions) and an even better baserunner. However, unless his offense takes a step forward in 2021, he won’t have many chances to play in the Yankees. The numbers’ game may be starting to catch up with him, and he is running out of chances.