As the 2023 MLB season unfolds, the New York Yankees face a familiar problem: a struggling outfield. Despite plenty of talent and financial allocation, the Yankees’ outfield has underperformed in recent years, and 2023 is no exception.
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The Yankees’ outfield has plenty of talent, but the numbers tell a story of underachievement. As the end of April 2023 nears, the combined batting average of the outfield is a lackluster .184. Furthermore, their on-base percentage (OBP) of .241 is far below the league average, indicating that the outfielders struggle to get on base and create run-scoring opportunities.
The lack of power from the outfield is also concerning. With a combined slugging percentage of .301, the Yankees’ outfield ranks in the league’s bottom half. With only 11 home runs and 32 RBIs through the season’s first month, the group has not contributed enough to the team’s overall offensive production.
Limited Depth for the Yankees:
Injuries are a part of baseball, and the Yankees are no stranger to this reality. However, the team’s outfield depth has been stretched thin in 2023. With Harrison Bader and Giancarlo Stanton already spending time on the injured list, the Yankees have had to rely on inexperienced or underperforming players to fill the void. This lack of depth has made it difficult for the team to find consistency in the outfield, exacerbating the issues mentioned above.
Options like Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Franchy Coredo, and even Aaron Hicks have all drastically underperformed.
Taking a look at the statistics of each individual depth outfielder, Hicks is hitting a measly .129 with a .206 OBP, striking out at 29.4%, and walking at 8.8%. He currently hosts a -2 wRC+, one of the worst numbers on the entire team.
Cordero, on the other hand, is hitting .160 with a .192 OBP and 63 wRC+. Since hitting four homers with 11 RBIs earlier this month, he hasn’t gotten on base in seven games, the longest streak currently on the roster. Moving on to IKF, who’s hitting .176 with a .243 OBP, his utility in the outfield is simply a filler and cover-up for a much larger problem.
The Yankees are betting big on Harrison Bader offering substantial offensive value, which is unlikely considering he’s a below-average piece in that regard based on his career numbers. He averages a .245 batting average with a .317 OBP in his career, with his best campaign coming in 2021 with St. Louis.
Across 103 games, he hit .267 with a .324 OBP, smacking 16 homers with 50 RBIs and a 21.2% strikeout rate. He does have some underrated power, as we saw during the postseason when he slapped five homers across nine games.
The reality is simple, the Yankees have a massive lack of talent in the outfield, and they missed opportunities to trade for Bryan Reynolds and Ian Happ, meaning the alternatives are slim. Brian Cashman may not have a solid plan to upgrade the unit unless he plans on elevating some of his younger prospects.