The Yankees may have stumbled upon a perfect center-field supplement

MLB: Kansas City Royals at New York Yankees, billy mckinney
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the absence of starting centerfielder Harrison Bader from the New York Yankees‘ lineup on Friday, Manager Aaron Boone assured fans before the game that Bader is ready and could step in at any time if needed.

Billy McKinney’s Impressive Performance

However, in Bader’s stead, 28-year-old lefty Billy McKinney had an outstanding performance. With 30 appearances under his belt this year, McKinney is hitting .247 with a .299 OBP, including five home runs, 11 RBIs, and a 116 wRC+.

McKinney boasts 293 career MLB games, including a notable 116-game stint in 2021 with the Brewers, Mets, and Dodgers. Although he hit .192 with a .280 OBP that season, he has worked tirelessly to revive his swing and deliver value at the MLB level. His efforts have been rewarded with a .274 batting average and a .388 OBP, including nine home runs and 25 RBIs in 40 games with Triple-A Scranton this year.

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Cashman’s Strategy and McKinney’s Value

General Manager Brian Cashman has a penchant for strategic auxiliary pieces, and McKinney fits this bill perfectly. The Yankees’ 5-4 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Friday wouldn’t have been possible without McKinney’s exceptional performance. He managed a hit and walk, including a three-run homer in the bottom of the 4th inning that brought in DJ LeMahieu and Anthony Volpe with two outs on the board.

McKinney’s Defensive Contribution

But McKinney’s contributions weren’t limited to his offense. He also excelled defensively, making a couple of dazzling plays — catching a shoestring fly ball and later denying a home run.

This season, McKinney has completed 206.1 innings for the Yankees, maintaining a flawless fielding percentage with three defensive runs saved. Although he may not be the first choice for a regular starter, he has proven to be a valuable supplement, stepping in to compensate for injuries and inconsistencies.

Yankees Reevaluate Kiner-Falefa’s Position

With this, it appears that the Bombers are moving away from using Isiah Kiner-Falefa in the outfield. His defensive performance has been lackluster, evidenced by -5 defensive runs saved and -1 outs above average.