New York Yankees: Should there be THAT much of a concern over lack of Left-Handed hitters?

Mike Tauchman, New York Yankees

The New York Yankees lineup this season is, on paper, looking like it’s going to be otherworldly come 2020. With that, one of the biggest concerns appears to be the lack of left-handed hitters in the lineup itself.

Here’s how the expected 2020 New York Yankees projects pre-spring training:

1. DJ LeMahieu- R

2. Aaron Judge- R

3. Giancarlo Stanton- R

4. Gleyber Torres- R

5. Miguel Andujar- R

6. Luke Voit- R

7. Gary Sanchez- R

8. Gio Urshela- R

9. Brett Gardner- L

As you can see, not a lot of variation there in that lineup. With the new rule forcing pitchers to pitch a full inning at a time, it would seem as if most teams could just put in specialists out of the pen that excels versus righties — and mow through this lineup. However, there may not be as massive of an issue as one may think. These are the OPS’s & wRC+ versus LHP and RHP in 2019 (*= 2018 — for PA’s) — info via Fangraphs:

DJ LeMahieu 1.066 .830 182 119
Aaron Judge* .967 .901 163 145
Giancarlo Stanton* 1.036 .792 175 114
Gleyber Torres .902 .861 136 121
Miguel Andujar* .822 .869 118 134
Gary Sanchez .759 .867 93 123
Luke Voit .790 .860 110 131
Gio Urshela .876 .895 126 135
Brett Gardner .654 .880 70 128

Now, I chose to indicate both OPS’s under .710 & wRC+’s under 100, as those are MLB average. The only main glaring outlier when it comes to both OPS and wRC+ is Brett Gardner, which is why I think that Mike Tauchman will see a lot of CF duties instead of Gardy when there’s a lefty on the mound. The main takeaway here is that everyone in this lineup is — for the most part — well above average versus both handed pitchers.

LeMahieu and Stanton are both absolute-machines specifically against lefties, where Voit and Sanchez excel, especially versus righties. What this says is that Gary is far more dangerous against righties despite the same hand tossing off the mound. The entire necessity for a LHB is to have balance in a LU and — in theory — the lefties should hit better against the righties because they’d see the arm slot and the ball better from the opposite hand. Despite that, when looking at Sanchez’s splits, it’s as if he’s a lefty in the LU because of his inability to excel vs. LHP’s.

Aaron Boone also has no real issues with the lack of lefties in the LU, as previously mentioned in Alexander Wilson’s piece, he said:

“You always want to have balance, but you want to be as good a team as you can be, so you’re always trying to kind of improve where you can. Nothing turns out perfect. You’re not always going to have the perfect roster, but we feel like whichever way we go — and especially with Aaron Hicks out to start the first couple of months — there is certainly a chance that we could be very right-handed. But we also know there is a really good chance that we will be a really good offense.” 

All that matters are the numbers and whether or not individual players excel versus whichever handed hitters, regardless of if they’re righty or lefty. The Yankees lineup, as of today, is arguably the best lineup top-to-bottom in all of baseball. To only have two guys posting wRC+’s under the MLB average, across splits versus either hand, is a testament to how talented this offense is. That right there is the epitome of balance and consistency, to be able to see pitches well from both sides of the mound. There should be no cries for concern over the lack of left-handed hitting, especially when Tyler Wade — who is overdue for a breakout — is a lefty Swiss-Army knife. Wade, across a small sample of 19 PA’s versus lefties, OPS’d .705, which is almost league average. Let it be known; however, his AVG versus lefties was .270, and he also had a 41.7% HH% versus lefties, compared to 23.2% versus righties.

I think tossing Wade in the lineup –mainly against lefties, with here-and-there games versus righties, would be a massive benefit for the Yankees this year. Even with it being a small sample size, the only way to allow Tyler Wade to “prove himself” is to play him accordingly. The guy has to see more PA’s, and has to be used to his strengths, rather than expecting him to “swing away every AB, cause we just slapped you ninth in the LU.” I expect big things out of Tyler Wade, and the Yankees as a team have nothing but space itself as the ceiling. Look for the team to break records, and have people’s necks cramping up from watching an astronomical amount of home runs explode off the bat.

I think with how talented this lineup is across the board, and with the solid depth pieces that are seemingly on the roster, this team should be the best in baseball. There are very few teams with as many assets and talents as this team, and I think this could be the year the Yankees grab number 28. With that, it is always important to head into the season as if you’re on everyone else’s levels, as the ego can cloud the field of view. This team has nothing but high-quality guys who are high-quality players, and that’s all you can ask for coming into the season.