Yankees are getting heroic performances from defensive maestro

harrison bader, yankees
May 7, 2023; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; New York Yankees center fielder Harrison Bader (22) reacts after hitting a triple against the Tampa Bay Rays in the fifth inning at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees have recently completed a series sweep against the Oakland Athletics, amassing a total of 28 runs and reigniting their offensive prowess. The Bombers had been experiencing difficulties, accumulating only 28 runs throughout their prior nine games combined. However, the reintroduction of defensive maestro Harrison Bader has invigorated the team.

Undoubtedly, the return of Aaron Judge played a significant role, but Bader has certainly been the Yankees’ most effective hitter over the past week.

Harrison Bader has been carrying the Yankees on his back:

In his last eight games, Bader has achieved a .429 batting average with a .448 OBP, delivering three home runs and 11 RBIs, a 6.9% strikeout rate, and a 269 wRC+. Bader has already contributed 0.7 WAR this season, maintaining a flawless fielding percentage along with one defensive run saved and one out above average across 62 innings.

Before Wednesday’s victory over Oakland, Bader discussed the factors contributing to his recent success. He attributed his impressive performance to experience and confidence, enabling him to make strategic adjustments to his gameplay at crucial moments.

“Experience fosters a willingness to change and instills confidence in making adjustments as you devise an offensive plan and position yourself defensively,” Bader shared with The Post before the game. “A significant aspect is simply experience—learning from teammates and being around successful players. Focusing in the same way they do. We all possess talent at this level—I believe the distinguishing factor is remaining confident in your abilities as a player. Going out and trusting that it will manifest, and preparing accordingly.”

Against Oakland specifically, Bader secured five hits, including a home run, three runs, four RBIs, and struck out only once. His average did not fall below .333 in any of the matches.

Given the outfield’s subpar performance, Bader’s return from injury has been a tremendous boon. To provide context, Aaron Hicks currently boasts a .153 average with a .231 OBP and 29 wRC+, while Isiah Kiner-Falefa is hitting .192 with a .244 OBP and 31 wRC+. The team’s primary supplemental outfielders, who have played a significant number of games recently, fall considerably short of average MLB standards. In fact, Bader has accumulated 11 RBIs in only 28 at-bats, compared to a mere four from Hicks and IKF combined over 159 at-bats.

Although the left-field position remains a significant concern, general manager Brian Cashman may have a solution in the pipeline. For now, Jake Bauers, IKF, Hicks, and Oswaldo Cabrera will continue to compete for regular opportunities. However, it would not be surprising if Cashman sought a more permanent solution in the market.

Acquiring a reliable offensive piece with average defensive capabilities would substantially strengthen the left field. At the very least, this would relegate the aforementioned players to genuine reserve roles, rather than engaging in a daily game of chance for the starting position.

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