The Yankees have stumbled upon a new starting outfield alignment

harrison bader, yankees
May 8, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees center fielder Harrison Bader (22) reacts after hitting a triple against the Oakland Athletics during the fifth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees‘ outfield has been a significant source of worry in the early part of the 2023 season. At one stage, without the services of Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and Harrison Bader, the team relied on a starting lineup of Aaron Hicks, Oswaldo Cabrera, and Franchy Cordero.

Frankly, with such an outfield configuration, the Yankees were unlikely to be competitive. However, with players returning from injury and regaining form, the situation has markedly improved.

In spite of the contributions from Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Hicks, and the recently resurgent Cabrera, the team undertook several adjustments to invigorate the group. Promoting Jake Bauers proved to be a positive move, as he quickly secured the starting left field position following a blistering start in Triple-A.

[su_posts template=”templates/list-loop.php” posts_per_page=”3″ tax_term=”1622326″ offset=”1″ order=”desc”]

Here’s the new starting outfield for the Yankees:

RF: Aaron Judge

Following an MVP season, Judge initially experienced a slow start to the year but has since rebounded after a right hip injury. His current statistics include a .272 batting average, a .377 OBP, 11 home runs, 26 RBIs, and a 15.2% walk rate. While his 31.1% strikeout rate is the highest since 2019, it’s anticipated to decrease with more at-bats.

Given the challenging Yankees’ schedule and the high-caliber pitching they regularly encounter, occasional offensive struggles are understandable. Nonetheless, Judge continues to make his presence felt, most recently hitting two home runs in the first two games of the series against the Blue Jays this week.

The Yankees urgently need Judge to remain healthy and sustain his potent performances, as his absence in the lineup proved catastrophic.

CF: Harrison Bader

Along with Judge, Harrison Bader’s return has been instrumental for the Yankees. Bader boasts a .300 batting average, a .340 OBP, three home runs, and 12 RBIs. He also maintains a strikeout rate of just 9.4% and a 146 wRC+.

On the defensive end, Bader has been exceptional, attaining a perfect fielding percentage along with three defensive runs saved and three outs above average. His superior athleticism in the outfield is invaluable, while his offensive production this season has been an unexpected boon.

Although his performance has cooled somewhat after a hot start, the Yankees recognize his worth and might explore the possibility of a contract extension in the near future.

LF: Jake Bauers

After initially struggling to identify a permanent left fielder, the Yankees decided to promote Jake Bauers from Scranton.

Bauers has displayed bouts of inconsistency, but he has also delivered a few remarkable performances over a 14-game stretch. Currently, Bauers is batting .212 with a .325 OBP, contributing two home runs, four RBIs, and a 101 wRC+. Despite a 35% strikeout rate, he also has a 15% walk rate.

For now, Bauers fulfills the role of a regular starter in left field, at least until general manager Brian Cashman opts to trade for a definitive starter.

Presently, the Yankees can tolerate Bauers’ sporadic output. The inclusion of a left-handed batter in the lineup is always beneficial, especially in Yankee Stadium with its notably short right porch.