Yankees’ new left fielder trending in the right direction

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

Some of the New York Yankees‘ key players have enjoyed stellar performances, but two of their starting outfielders have struggled to get going early in the 2024 season.

Of course, superstar Aaron Judge has still yet to hit his stride, but new left fielder Alex Verdugo is starting to pick things up over the past few days. The 27-year-old is in the final of arbitration after being aquired from the Boston Red Sox this past off-season.

On the season, he’s hitting .242/.342/.419, including two homers and five RBIs, with a 13.7% walk rate and 9.6% strikeout rate. He hosts a 125 wRC+, which is the best metric in his career, over a small sample size.

Verdugo had a slow start to the season, but over the past seven days, he’s been hitting .286 with a .400 OBP and .876 OPS. His numbers over the last 15 days are even better, so this suggests he’s finally starting to see his numbers trend in the right direction and crawl out of a bad situation.

The Yankees Are Seeing Verdugo’s Numbers Boom

While Verdugo’s slugging metrics are certainly nothing to write home about, he has phenomenal whiff and strikeout percentages, ranking in the 99th and 98th percentile, respectively. He’s been hitting .333 against fastballs, but he has struggled against breaking and off-speed pitches at a much more significant rate. Despite his hard-hit metrics showcasing a lack of efficiency, he’s on pace to hit a career-high 16 homers this season, which the Yankees would gladly welcome.

Verdugo’s value doesn’t only come from his lefty bat, though, he’s also a competent defensive player. In left field this season, he’s already enjoyed 156.2 innings and posted a perfect fielding percentage with one defensive run saved and one out above average. They are getting substantially more value from him than Aaron Hicks or any alternative outfielder the Yankees tossed into left field in 2023.

There’s a high probability that Verdugo is a one-and-done player for the Yankees, with Jasson Dominguez and Spencer Jones expected to become prominent pieces in 2025, but that doesn’t mean he can’t provide significant value this season and help the Yankees win the World Series. His recent upward trend is encouraging, and the Yankees will need him to support the bottom half of the batting order.

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