With the New York Yankees heading into the back end of the regular season, difficult decisions loom for manager Aaron Boone. Specifically, in the outfield, the Yankees are stacked with talent and potential for the playoffs.
Finding the right players, however, is the tricky part. Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, and Brett Gardner will all be postseason players. Beyond those starting three, the Yankees and Boone need to make several difficult decisions based on who will provide the most value and efficiency at the plate.
Injuries have plagued the team this season, which has forced regular starter Giancarlo Stanton out for a majority of the campaign. He will likely be the designated hitter for the playoffs if he can manage to return in time.
As a whole, the outfield has been as productive this season as last, when it was one of the majors’ best. With a .835 OPS of 2019 compared to .812 last year, the unit is not only productive at the plate but also defensively.
Adding the likes of Cameron Maybin and Mike Tauchman have allowed the Yankees to experiment with different combinations of players and avoid significant fatigue to their primary starters. Maybin and Tauchman have a combined .853 OPS and 3.5 wins above replacement in 504 plate appearances.
Boone will have a difficult decision to make when it comes to choosing between the two journeyman players. The former is a better base runner and is just as talented on the defensive side of the ball, but Tauchman is a lefty and provides the lineup with a bit more diversity.
Throw in the likes of Clint Frazier, and Boone might not be sleeping much for the next several weeks. Frazier, who is had a tough time staying at the major league level with attitude issues, still has offensive value despite his defensive woes.
Gardner will likely retain his spot for the postseason given his veteran leadership and ability to come in clutch. Hicks, who has been dealing with injuries throughout the season is the primary centerfielder and will also earn a spot.
The final outfield spot will likely come down to Maybin and Tauchman — I favor Cameron simply because he offers more in every facet of the game than Mike. Stanton will be the obvious choice to hold over the left-field position if he can play defense, but he is looking like the penciled in designated hitter once he returns.