The New York Yankees are heading into the second half of the 2022 season with the best record in baseball and a hefty cushion in the AL East. Specifically, they hold a 13-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays, who are in second place in the AL East and are three games above the Los Angeles Dodgers.
However, without a few surprise performances from the likes of José Treviño and Matt Carpenter, the team might be far less proficient in both the offensive and defensive categories.
With fatigue rearing its ugly head just before the All-Star break, the Yankee face a few problematic situations with games starting back up again on Thursday. The bullpen has been hit with plenty of injuries and the starting rotation was dealing with significant fatigue.
This does suggest that general manager Brian Cashman will look to the trade deadline to acquire a few players who can help smooth over adversity. It is entirely dependent on cost.
Let’s take a look at two players who could help the team down the stretch.
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Two players who could make a big impact for the Yankees the rest of the way:
1.) Matt Carpenter
The easy first option is Matt Carpenter, who’s having a resurgent season after two consecutive years with sub .200 batting averages. This year, he’s hitting .354 with a 47% on base rate and .911 slugging percentage. He’s already hit 13 homers this season in 97 plate appearances, tallying a 24.7% strikeout rate and 13.4% walk rate.
The Yankees have been a bit more cautious with his defensive alignments. He’s 36 years old and doesn’t have the athleticism he once contained. However, they’ve thrown him into left field multiple times and utilized him at third and first base. His hard-hit metrics are impeccable, hosting a 48.2% hard-hit rate, 19.6% barrel rate, 91.8 mph of exit velocity, and 24.6° launch angle.
He currently features a 278 wRC+, indicating he’s 178% better than the average major-league player. This is astounding given his decent sample size of 31 games.
If Carpenter can continue to perform at this level, the Yankees will have a secret weapon down the stretch who might be a contributor come the postseason.
2.) Aaron Hicks
Outfielder Aaron Hicks fouled a ball off his right shin a week ago, causing major concern he could miss significant time. Luckily, he returned just three days later against the Boston Red Sox and has continued his fantastic July. Hicks is batting .333 this month with a 48% on-base rate, three homers, 12 hits, and just eight strikeouts over 36 at-bats.
At one point this season, there were reasons to believe Hicks could be traded at the deadline. At the very least, benched for his lack of production. Since then, he’s elevated his average to .236 with a 36% base rate, six homers, and 29 RBIs.
Defensively, he has provided plenty of value, shifting over to left field from center with Aaron Judge transitioning. Despite his tough start to the campaign, Hicks does feature a 110 wRC+.
If the Yankees don’t make a move at the deadline for an outfielder, a lot more pressure falls on Hicks to produce offensively at a consistent rate.