The New York Yankees power in the American League Division Series against the Minnesota Twins surged behind the bats of Gleyber Torres, DJ LeMahieu, and Brett Gardner and also adding power to the lineup were Didi Gregorius and Cameron Maybin. Gregorius’ Grand Slam in Game 2 was one of the highlights of the series. Heavy hitters missing from this list of home run hitters: Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez, and Edwin Encarnacion.
In some ways, the top hitters of the ALDS are also a surprise: Torres, Gregorius, Judge, and Maybin. Torres, Gregorius, and Maybin flashing the power and Judge contributing with timely hitting, taking the walks and cutting down on strikeouts.
Judge and LeMahieu are just two of the heavy hitters who can turn it up a notch against Houston.
While LeMahieu went 4-14 with a home run, there is no way he emptied the tank offensively in the ALDS. He finished the season second in the league in batting average at .327. Against Minnesota, he batted only .286 with 4 RBIs. I hope to see him with even more opportunities to drive in runs during the next series. LeMahieu, arguably the MVP of the Yankees regular season, will need even better numbers in the upcoming series to help the Yankees overcome what will be a tough series against the Houston Astros.
Judge’s performance in the ALDS was perhaps not spectacular offensively, but it was consistent with the kind of hitter he has become – which is not to say that his power stroke has gone missing – he just has become more patient at the plate, and it is unlikely he saw many pitches to take deep. Judge batted .333 for the ALDS, going 3-9 with four walks, one strikeout, and three singles. He was where he should have been if he’s not circling the bases, and that is on the bases.
The Yankees offense in the ALDS proved that the Yankees are poised to strike a balance between reliance on the long ball and playing small ball. If the Yankees can win series in which their power hitters fail to hit home runs, fans will take it, which means everything else is going right.
Against Houston, the pitching will be elite, and having a balanced offense against such elite pitching will be in the Yankees favor. Against pitchers like the Astros Justin Verlander or the Gerrit Cole, it is wise to have several lines of attack to beat them.
The Yankees now have their full complement of starting players back from injury, including Aaron Hicks, who is reportedly healthy and ready to play. The offense showed with its league-leading .324 average that at least so far in the postseason, it can meet any challenge. Woe to the Astros once the home run hitters join the fun.