Yankees’ offense gives sneak peek at elite upside

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees narrowly escaped Saturday’s matchup against the Toronto Blue Jays with a 9–8 victory, as their pitching faltered toward the end. However, the offense did more than enough to dominate a Toronto team that is one game below .500 on the season.

If the Yankees manage to sneak out a win on Sunday afternoon, they will have their third consecutive series win and bring their record to 8–2. They rank first in the AL East as of Sunday morning.

On Saturday, though, the Yankees showcased a sneak peek into what their offense could be when all cylinders are firing. Every player except for Alex Verdugo drove in a run in the win, and the team collected 10 hits, with nine of them in the first five batters.

The Yankees have been flip-flopping Anthony Rizzo and Giancarlo Stanton between the four and five spots in the lineup, and it seems they finally found a groove.

Soto and Aaron Judge combined for four hits, four RBIs, and four walks, elevating their season averages. Judge is finally hitting his stride, and his numbers have started to skyrocket over the last few days, which is exactly what the Bombers needed.

The Yankees Need Everyone Firing

However, it was always a matter of “when” and not “if” for Judge, but the same could be said for Rizzo and Stanton, who had previously been ice cold over the first week of the year.

Rizzo contributed a hit and two RBIs, smashing a two-run homer in the bottom of the 5th inning, increasing the Yankees’ lead to 8–2 before Toronto made a late comeback. Nonetheless, Stanton had his best game of the season by far, contributing three hits, including a solo homer to right centerfield in the first inning.

To open the season, Stanton is hitting .214/.241/.464, including two homers, two RBIs, and a 102 wRC+. He’s slowly chipping away at his 44.8% strikeout rate and trying to improve his 3.4% walk rate, but the sample size is small, with just 29 plate appearances.

Taking a look at his metrics, Stanton features a 33.3% rate and a 13.3% barrel rate, both of which are career lows. Even his average velocity has dropped below 90 mph for the first time in his career, but we should expect these numbers to recover as he finds his groove and picks up the pace.

Clearly, he was seeing the ball well on Saturday, so we know he is still more than capable of hitting at a high level; he just needs to be more consistent.

With the additions of Soto and Trent Grisham, Stanton’s services aren’t needed defensively, so all of his value comes as a batter.

As long as he can provide above-average offense, the Yankees can justify his spot in the lineup, but his long-term value is certainly in question.

The Yankees have Jasson Dominguez and Spencer Jones preparing to make the full-time transition to the majors, and Stanton’s reps will certainly be up for grabs if he can put together a solid 2024 season.

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