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 isnâ€™t the best, but there is another issue damaging his profile: plate discipline.
The Yankeesâ€™ 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 Yankeesâ€™ 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.