New York Yankees: What each player needs to prove in 2020

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres, Gary Sanchez
Aug 23, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; New York Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres (25) celebrates hitting a home run with catcher Gary Sanchez (24) against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the sixth inning during an MLB Players' Weekend game at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve reached one of my favorite times of the year where baseball begins its 7-8 month journey. It’s Spring Training.  Each year, as players begin to report to their spring training facilities there are always the usual reports of players that put in the necessary work to improve in the offseason or the famous cliche of a player looking like he’s in the best shape of his life! Instead, I’d like to take a look at what each player needs to prove this season to be effective for the New York Yankees.  I’ll break this down into two different segments splitting up the position players and the pitchers. I’ll start with the position players by going around the diamond.

Gary Sanchez: Probably the most polarizing player on the starting roster.  Sanchez has a couple of things to prove. Health is a big factor in his career as a catcher moving forward.  Groin injuries have limited him in the last couple of seasons. If he can stay healthy and continue working on his defense, he can be one of the most feared players in their star-studded lineup on any given day.  The other is consistency. Sanchez may be one of the most powerful bats in the lineup, but is also one of the streakiest. Health and consistency are key.

Luke Voit: Voit has to prove that he can produce his impressive numbers throughout a full season.  The 2019 season was a tale of two players pre and post hernia injury. When healthy, Voit can be a big contributor somewhere in the middle to lower part of the lineup. He needs to be healthy to prove his 2017 and the first half of 2019 was no fluke.

DJ Lemahieu: DJ was a welcome addition to this New York Yankees team last year and provided a great balance to their lineup with his contact-oriented approach at the plate.  Surpassing everyone’s expectations all season while garnering some MVP votes as well. DJ needs to prove that he can continue to be a fixture at the top of the lineup.  Regression is expected but hopefully, he can come close to replicating his 2019 numbers again.

Gleyber Torres:  Torres put together an incredible season for a 23-year-old.  The 2020 season will be a huge point in his career as he’s being handed the shortstop job for the foreseeable future.  He will need to prove that he can handle shortstop full time in New York and further continue his development into a superstar.

Gio Urshela/Miguel Andujar:  Urshela proved to be another great find for Brian Cashman.  He made some minor tweaks to his swing due to the increasing analytical craze and produced career-saving results.  As for his defense, Urshela has been very steady at the hot corner. Andujar missed all of 2019 due to a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder and ultimately lost his job.  This off-season, Andujar has been working out at first base and left field to go along with third base. He needs to prove that his bat is still as potent as it was in 2018 when he was runner up for Rookie of the Year.  If he can field first base, left field, and occasionally third base even passably, the Yankees will find a spot in the lineup for him.

Mike Tauchman/Brett Gardner/Giancarlo Stanton:  Tauchman was another hidden gem found by the Yankees analytics and scouting dept.  Providing excellent defense and solid offense. Tauchman needs to prove that he can continue being a solid role player for the Yankees when given the opportunities. Gardner, the longest-tenured Yankee, and sole member of the past 2009 World Series team put together a career year in the power department.  Whether that can be contributed to the juiced ball or not, he proved that he can stave off Father Time at least one more year. Gardner will be tasked with filling in at centerfield while Aaron Hicks recovers from injury. Gardner needs to prove that he can once again contribute in a starting role capacity to bridge the gap until Hicks comes back.  Stanton had a 2019 season to forget. Just when he got back to being a lethal weapon for the New York Yankees, the injury bug struck again. Due to his massive contract, his main goal for 2020 is to stay healthy. I have no doubts that if Stanton is healthy, he will be back to mashing home runs left and right. On a side note, if he could play in the field a bit more regularly, that would open up a lot more positional flexibility for the team, and contrary to some, Stanton is still more than capable of playing a solid outfield. 

Aaron Hicks:  Health. Plain and simple. Hicks has to prove that he’s putting his health issues behind him when he returns this summer from Tommy John Surgery.  He’s got top 10 centerfield talent when he’s on the field but he needs to be on the field to showcase that.

Aaron Judge: Avoiding unlucky injuries has been Judge’s downfall since he had an incredible breakout season in 2017.  Granted, some of his injuries can be attributed to bad luck. When he is on the field, he is one of the best overall players in all of baseball.  He needs to prove that he can be healthy again for an entire season to remain relevant amongst the best. With a full season of Judge being healthy and producing the numbers we are all accustomed to, the Yankees will have to look this offseason about signing him to an extension and, dare I say, making him the next captain.

See a pattern?  Injuries decimated the New York Yankees team in 2019 there’s no doubt, but with a new season coming up, look for them to put the rest of the league on notice.