The Yankees have 4 gaping holes in their batting order

MLB: Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees‘ offense has been volatile, to say the very least, over the past few weeks. After scoring 14 runs against the Boston Red Sox on Saturday, they were unable to even get a run across the board on Sunday. This is the nature of a team that features multiple backups at starting positions, and players who are expected to provide substantial value are simply underwhelming.

Even with Gleyber Torres on the bench nursing a right groin injury, the Yankees know he’s having one of his worst seasons as a professional, and there’s simply no reason to assume he would be making the lineup better. At the moment, the bottom half of the order is not just lackluster but nearly nonexistent. Without Ben Rice hitting three homers on Saturday, the Yankees likely would’ve lost, considering he posted seven RBIs and sparked a big day for the offense.

Let’s take a look at four players who are dragging the team down ahead of the All-Star break.

The Yankees Have Four Gaping Holes in Their Lineup

1.) DJ LeMahieu

There may not be a worse player on the Yankees than DJ LeMahieu right now. The 35-year-old is simply a liability, hitting .194/.288/.223, including zero homers, 11 RBIs, a 15.1% strikeout rate, and an 11.8% walk rate. His 55 wRC+ indicates he’s 45% worse than the average MLB hitter.

At this rate, the Yankees simply cannot rely on LeMahieu to be a productive asset in the batting order, especially with his lofty ground ball rate of 58.1%. If the Yankees are trying to rally, you can guarantee that DJ will smash a baseball into the dirt and either provide a double-play or a grounder that doesn’t offer much positivity.

MLB: New York Yankees at Los Angeles Angels, dj lemahieu
Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

LeMahieu is still capable of making contact, it’s just the quality of contact has been problematic. The Yankees will likely look at his overall percentages and note that he has a .258 expected batting average, which may suggest he’s getting a bit unlucky.

However, for the first time in his career, he has a -1-degree launch angle, which is why he’s chopping balls into the dirt and hurting his team’s ability to put runs on the board. In addition, he has only three extra-base hits over 32 games and 119 plate appearances. At some point, the Yankees need to label him a player who isn’t starting caliber and should ultimately serve a utility role.

2.) Trent Grisham

The next liability is outfielder Trent Grisham, who’s hitting .168/.292/.358, including five homers and 15 RBIs, with a career-high 31.6% strikeout rate and 13.2% walk rate.

Ultimately, Grisham could be a lot worse since his 87 wRC+ is not terrible — he’s a backup-level outfielder. However, he’s just another player dragging the Yankees’ production down with the regular starter out. The Yankees losing Giancarlo Stanton was a much bigger deal than they realized at the time, and while Grisham offers Gold Glove-level defense, he’s extremely volatile offensively, and that doesn’t make up for his lack of production overall.

3.) Oswaldo Cabrera

General manager Brian Cashman will need to make an upgrade in the infield at the trade deadline in late July. The Yankees simply can’t have Oswaldo Cabrera playing every day. Despite the fact he’s a fan favorite, Cabrera hosts a .237 batting average with a .281 OBP and a .343 slugging rate. His 78 wRC+ isn’t the worst in the world, but it’s still nowhere near what the Yankees need from a starting player — fortunately, Oswaldo’s role is to plug leaks.

oswaldo cabrera, yankees

With runners in scoring position, Cabrera is hitting .283, which is quite good, but with the Yankees’ batting order struggling from the number five spot and down, he hasn’t had many chances with runners on base to begin with.

4.) Alex Verdugo

After a red-hot start to the season, Alex Verdugo has quieted down significantly over the past few weeks. Hitting .244/.300/.398, Verdugo does have 10 homers with 45 RBIs. He’s on pace to set a personal record in home runs and host a solid 14.7% strike-out rate.

However, his 98 wRC+ now suggests he is a below-average hitter this season. In the month of June, Verdugo hit .219 with a .265 OBP. His batting average has spiked a bit to start July, but he is still getting on base at a sub-30 % rate. Verdugo is hitting .275 with runners in scoring position, but his on-base percentage sits at .294.

MLB: New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays, alex verdugo
Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Clearly, the Bombers are being aggressive with runners on base, which is resulting in more strikeouts and sometimes weak contact. However, the Yankees want a better batting average in that scenario to drive runners in instead of showing more discipline and patience.

For the most part, Verdugo has been a solid player for the Yankees, offering elite defense. However, he’s been quite a liability offensively as of late, contributing to the team’s losing stretch.

The honorable mention is Anthony Volpe, who has since been moved down the batting order and had a horrible month of June. He hit just .220 with a .238 OBP and is hitting .120 with a .154 OBP to start July. After a hot start to the campaign, Volpe is coming back down to earth, and the Yankees have moved rookie Ben Rice to the lead-off spot, which was certainly an interesting decision. Fortunately, it has paid off for the most part.

Mentioned in this article:

More about: