The upcoming months will be crucial for the New York Yankees as they shape the path for their 2024 season. The front office is currently under review, scrutinizing the possible reasons for some suboptimal decisions over recent years.
High-profile moves like the $50 million investment in Josh Donaldson and the acquisition of an injured Frankie Montas are merely glimpses into a broader picture. However, with star player Aaron Judge committed to aiding the front office, there’s hope on the horizon. What remains unequivocal is the dire need to revamp the offense.
Rethinking the Yankees’ Batting Strategy
According to Judge, the Yankees’ batting strategy has deviated from their home run strengths. What’s more, there’s a noticeable void in competent batters capable of hitting with runners in scoring positions or playing small ball. This talent gap is bound to see a shift if the Yankees effectively utilize their resources.
“I think we made it a little shift away from the home runs this year. We added some guys that maybe bring a little bit more contact for you, but I think it comes down to staying healthy. You first have to get the right guys to handle playing here, guys that want to play 162 a year. But we also have to find the right balance in the lineup. You’ve got your sluggers and your guys to do some damage, but you’ve got to find the right cast of supporting people around them that will play small-ball. Play baseball. That’s what it comes down to. Play the game the way you played it when you were a little kid. Understand that if you get a guy on, you get him over and you drive him in. That’s the basics right there and sometimes you can get away from it. I think we can improve. With some good evaluations, I’ll think we’ll be back to where we want to be.”
Among the current roster, only a select few batters seem indispensable. While Judge is undeniably central to the Yankees’ approach, Anthony Volpe shows promise for an impressive sophomore season. Furthermore, Gleyber Torres’s consistent performance underscores his value to the team. Volpe’s 21 homers, 60 RBIs, and 24 steals, despite his .207 batting average and .283 OBP, are indicative of potential growth. Meanwhile, 26-year-old Torres, over the span of 156 games, showcased commendable stats, especially with his 14.8% strikeout rate and 10% walk rate.
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Young Blood to the Rescue
The Yankees are set to tap into their younger talent pool for the next season. The likes of Jasson Dominguez, expected to return post his Tommy John surgery, have generated buzz. Austin Wells is emerging as a reliable offensive catcher, while players like Everson Pereira and Oswald Peraza might become regular starters soon.
With such shifts, fans might anticipate a revamped batting lineup come Opening Day. But this transformation shouldn’t deter the Yankees from seeking potent hitters in free agency, especially to rectify their challenges with runners in scoring positions.
Delving into Free Agency Stats
In the league this year, the Yankees reported some of the lowest metrics with runners in scoring position (RISP). Their performance in batting average and on-base rate notched just above the Oakland Athletics, placing them 29th in baseball rankings.
The forthcoming off-season brings a slew of potential free agents, including the likes of Cody Bellinger, Joc Pederson, and Jeimer Candelario. Pederson, with his lefty batting prowess, might especially be on the Yankees’ radar. Despite playing just 204 outfield innings this year, Pederson’s 2022 stats, including a .353 OBP and 23 homers, highlight his potential contribution, albeit with some defensive challenges.
However, a financial hurdle remains. The Yankees are currently allotting $22 million in luxury tax to Giancarlo Stanton, restricting their ability to secure an optimal designated hitter. Stanton’s own acknowledgment of his subpar performance this season further complicates matters.
Exploring Other Avenues
While free agency offers opportunities, the Yankees could also delve into the trade market. They might consider offloading some Rule-5 eligible prospects, particularly those who might face future obstructions from other players.
The ideal strategy for the Yankees would involve adding another powerful hitter, enhancing their athleticism, and fostering contact-hitting skills. Banking solely on home runs, as they’ve done previously, has proven to be a flawed strategy, often resulting in premature playoff exits.