Yankees may have stumbled on a great outfield depth piece

MLB: Seattle Mariners at New York Yankees
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees have managed to secure two consecutive victories against the Seattle Mariners, bringing an end to a four-game losing streak.

Remarkably, these wins have come despite the absence of Aaron Judge, their star player. The offense has pulled through just enough to clinch these victories, scoring three and four runs, respectively, in the two games.

Since Judge was placed on the injured list due to a toe strain, the Bombers have only managed to score more than four runs on three occasions.

Management Strategy: Resting Key Players

Until the Yankees’ prodigious slugger returns, the team must face the reality of a struggling offense. Manager Aaron Boone opted to give Giancarlo Stanton and DJ LeMahieu a day off on Wednesday, hoping to reset their focus ahead of Thursday’s game with Domingo German on the mound.

Emergence of Billy McKinney: A Potential Outfield Replacement?

However, the Yankees may have discovered a potential outfield replacement in former first-round pick Billy McKinney, who was called up to compensate for the loss of Judge. While it’s unrealistic to expect him to replicate Judge’s MVP-level performance, McKinney has proven impressive across his 12 games this season.

McKinney’s Promising Statistics: A Closer Look

McKinney boasts a .317 batting average with a .333 OBP, including a .659 slugging percentage and .992 OPS. Additionally, he’s enjoyed the lowest strikeout rate of his career at 14.3%, hitting three homers with five RBIs and 171 wRC+.

[su_posts template=”templates/list-loop.php” posts_per_page=”3″ tax_term=”1622326″ offset=”1″ order=”desc”]

An Unlikely Stand-In: McKinney’s Performance Amid Judge’s Absence

With a 45.7% hard-hit rate and a 20% barrel rate, McKinney appears to be delivering his best impression of Judge. His performance has provided a valuable stopgap as the Yankees navigate the uncertainty surrounding Aaron’s return.

McKinney’s Defensive Contributions: Solid and Reliable

McKinney has proved reliable in the field, boasting a perfect fielding percentage in the outfield, including one defensive run saved across 103.1 innings. His defensive stability and offensive power make him a valuable asset in the Yankees lineup, which currently lags with one of the lowest on-base percentages in the game.

Yankees’ Current Standing: A Struggling Offense

In fact, the Bombers possess the third-worst OBP in baseball, just ahead of the Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox at .298. Even their batting average ranks 25th at .230. However, their strategy of focusing on home runs for run production appears to be paying off, as they rank 4th in the league in that category.

McKinney’s Home Run Pace: Impressive Potential

Given that McKinney is hitting a home run every four games, he would be on pace for 40.5 home runs this year over a full 162-game season. While this projection is purely theoretical, McKinney’s contributions over the past two weeks have proved crucial in light of the team’s primary sluggers’ underperformance.

Upcoming Decisions: Roster Depth and Player Retention

Once Judge returns, the Yankees will face a tough decision regarding their current outfield depth. Considering McKinney’s strong performances, the Yankees may choose to retain his roster spot, potentially demoting a player like Willie Calhoun.

Calhoun has been a solid offensive contributor, but his inability to play in the outfield limits his versatility. With limited roster spots for designated hitters (DH) and Giancarlo Stanton being the preferred choice, McKinney’s all-around contributions may give him the edge.