Impact. That is the crucial element the New York Yankees seek to address injuries in the outfield. After experiencing a brief surge of impact from Franchy Cordero at the start of the 2023 season, his numbers plummeted dramatically.
Similar to Aaron Hicks and Isiah Kiner-Falefa, their offensive contributions have been disappointingly meager. Although finding proficient hitters is challenging, the Bombers may have discovered a valuable addition in Jake Bauers, one of their top Triple-A performers this year.
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The Yankees might have found a gem in Jake Bauers:
After making extensive adjustments to his swing, the 27-year-old outfielder had an outstanding beginning to his season with Scranton. In 21 games, he recorded a .304 batting average, a .448 on-base percentage, a .797 slugging percentage, and a 1.245 OPS. He hit nine home runs, drove in 20 runs, and stole five bases in that span, indicating his readiness for the major leagues.
Interestingly, Bauers spent the entire 2019 season with the Cleveland Guardians and 43 games in the 2021 season. His journey came full circle when he hit a solo home run against the Guardians on Wednesday night in the bottom of the 5th inning. Covering 362 feet, he sent the ball over the short right porch in Yankee Stadium, achieving his first major league home run in two years.
In four plate appearances—a small sample size—Bauers boasts a .333 batting average, a .500 OBP, one home run, and one RBI. While these numbers could fluctuate, he has demonstrated solid defensive value, earning a defensive run saved over 11 innings.
Although Bauers’ tenure with the Yankees is brief, and his statistics could change rapidly, he exhibits improved plate discipline and confidence in the batter’s box compared to his past performance. His best professional season occurred in 2018 with the Tampa Bay Rays, when he hit 11 home runs and posted a 97 wRC+ in 96 games. Historically, he hasn’t been a high on-base player, but altering his swing and increasing discipline could significantly enhance those numbers.
As mentioned earlier, players like Hicks and Kiner-Falefa have struggled offensively this year. Hicks has a .146 batting average and a .212 on-base percentage, while Kiner-Falefa holds a .196 average and a .237 on-base percentage. Together, they possess a combined 25 wRC+, suggesting they are 75% worse than an average player.
To put it bluntly, the Yankees need better options than those two, so Bauers is receiving more opportunities to prove his worth and productivity.
With Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton on the injured list, playing time is available. Judge is expected to return sometime next week, but Stanton will likely be sidelined for a few more weeks as he recovers from a hamstring injury. Bauers should have ample chances to build on his strong start, and the Yankees certainly need the offensive reinforcement.