The Yankees face a grueling reality with their batting order

May 25, 2024; San Diego, California, USA; New York Yankees center fielder Aaron Judge (99)celebrates with shortstop Anthony Volpe (11) after a two run home run in the first inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Chadd Cady-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Chadd Cady-USA TODAY Sports

As we evaluate the top half of the New York Yankees‘ batting order, it’s clear that stars like Aaron Judge and Juan Soto dominate, potentially carrying the offense on their own. However, the lower half of the lineup has been underperforming, presenting General Manager Brian Cashman with significant challenges as the trade deadline in late July approaches.

The Yankees are Elite at the Top of the Batting Order

Currently, Judge is delivering impressive stats with a .300/.423/.686 batting line, including 28 homers and 70 RBIs, keeping the offensive unit competitive. Soto is also having a standout year, batting .305/.431/.563 with 18 homers and 56 RBIs. These two players are performing at an elite level, which in many sports would be sufficient, but baseball demands depth across the batting order, and the Yankees are seeing a gap.

Jun 9, 2024; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) hits a solo home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the eighth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Struggles in the Lower Order

A recent lineup against the Atlanta Braves illustrates the issue. Beyond Alex Verdugo, the Yankees fielded Gleyber Torres, DJ LeMahieu, Ben Rice, Jose TreviƱo, and Trent Grisham. Excluding Rice, who is hitting .294, three of the final four batters have averages of .218 or lower. Despite Torres’s potential, evidenced by his historical output, his current season wRC+ of 85 suggests he’s performing 15% worse than the average MLB player. With Giancarlo Stanton sidelined due to a hamstring injury, there’s an urgent need for players like Torres to step up.

There’s a strong sentiment that the Yankees need a blockbuster trade to solidify their World Series ambitions. While their starting rotation is robust, the bullpen and the batting order could use enhancement. Anticipated returns from injury for players like Clarke Schmidt, Cody Poteet, Ian Hamilton, Scott Effross, and Lou Trivino are expected to bolster the team later in the season.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees, clarke schmidt
Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The return of Anthony Rizzo may not significantly boost the lineup, given his subpar performance this season. Instead, the Yankees might benefit from giving Ben Rice more opportunities and seeking an above-average third baseman. The ideal target, Ryan McMahon of the Colorado Rockies, is reportedly not on the trade block despite being in the midst of a career-best season, with a 122 wRC+ and a .280 average. His trade value is at its peak, with potential for 30 home runs this season.

Looking Toward the Trade Deadline

The situation could evolve as the trade deadline approaches, depending on the Rockies’ standings and needs. Meanwhile, the Yankees must navigate their immediate challenges without dropping too far in the standings. The acquisition of J.D. Davis is a step in the right direction, but it may not be sufficient. As the deadline nears, Cashman is expected to actively seek solutions to ensure the Yankees have a roster capable of a deep postseason run.

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