The New York Yankees offense may be a bit inconsistent beyond Aaron Judge. Their bullpen has been decimated by injuries, and the backend of their rotation may not be as strong as other top contenders. There is one unit, one aspect of the game, however, in which they thrive, and it could very well end up saving them some runs: defense.
The Yankees’ 39.8 “Defensive” rating, per FanGraphs, is the best in the American League. They also lead MLB in Framing Runs (24.3, almost doubling the second-place mark), Defensive Runs Saved (131, and second place has 85), and are third in the junior circuit in Outs Above Average (OAA) with 20.
They have above-average and elite defenders at almost every position, starting with catcher Jose Trevino. No one in MLB is as good at framing as he is, and he also excels in other aspects of catching: his arm, his leadership and game-calling skills, and his blocking are all good.
Anthony Rizzo is a major upgrade from the Luke Voit days, and both DJ LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres rate positively at second base. Isiah Kiner-Falefa is a passable shortstop, but if the Yankees decide to go with Oswald Peraza, he is even better than IKF.
The Yankees have lots of impactful fielders
Josh Donaldson may not be the hitter he once was, but he sure can field a baseball. With 8 DRS and 8 OAA, he has been elite at the hot corner, way better than the steady, solid Gio Urshela.
In the outfield, the Yankees defense is absolutely phenomenal. Oswaldo Cabrera, a natural infielder, has impressed in the outfield with 9 (!) DRS. He has a strong, accurate arm that has proven impactful in is brief time as a major leaguer.
Judge is elite in right field and passable in center, which tells you everything you need to know about his defensive impact. Much has been written about his obvious offensive achievements, but he is an excellent fielder.
Words can’t begin to describe how good Harrison Bader is with a glove on his hand. He is the best defensive center fielder the Yankees have had in a while, and the type of Gold Glove-caliber, impact fielder the team needed.
All things considered, Yankees’ pitchers can rest easy and focus on what they can control, because the defense has their back and this is huge with the playoffs coming.