The 2021 New York Yankees have had unexpected stars and bitter disappointments when we compare specific players to their pre-season expectations. One of those established veterans with a mediocre season is third baseman Gio Urshela.
Urshela plays good defense at the hot corner, and that is valuable. However, his .264/.299/.416 line has left a lot to be desired: he has been a below-average hitter as evidenced by his 95 wRC+, and has just 13 home runs in 408 plate appearances.
His offensive performance has been slightly disappointing considering the fact that he hit over .290 and had a wRC+ over 130 in the last two seasons. His contact quality isn’t the best, but there is another issue damaging his profile: plate discipline.
The Yankees’ third baseman has a 4.7 percent walk rate, his lowest since 2018, and a career-high 25.2 percent strikeout rate. His previous high in that last department was 21.7 percent three seasons ago.
The Yankees’ third baseman needs to increase the walks and cut the Ks
Urshela has been chasing a lot of balls outside of the zone, at 39.7 percent, and his 76.8 percent contact rate is his lowest since 2018. He has been swinging and missing a lot, too: his 12.5 percent swinging strike rate (SwStr%) is the highest it has been since that 2018 season in which he was a below-average hitter, before making the changes that made him productive in 2019 and 2020.
There is absolutely no doubt that the Yankees, if they want to secure a place in the 2021 postseason, need the best version of Urshela to lengthen the lineup. He has been better in his past seven games, with a .346/.346/.500 line.
However, over that timeframe, he also has a 0/5 BB/K ratio. If he is going to improve and become a reliable offensive contributor, like he was in 2019 and 2020, he will need to take a few more walks and cut down the strikeouts.