During the 2021 season, when the New York Yankees were struggling to get reliable production from their first basemen, they tried one under-the-radar name to see if he could at least be average offensively. He couldnâ€™t quite achieve that feat, even though he had excellent numbers at Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre.
Chris Gittens couldnâ€™t honor his nickname: â€œHard Hittinâ€™â€ slashed just .111/.250/.194 in 16 games and 44 plate appearances, with a home run and a 33 wRC+ (weighted Runs Created Plus), were 100 is considered average production.
Now, the Yankees are, per The Athleticâ€™s Lindsey Adler, releasing him so he can have the opportunity to get some playing time elsewhere.
Adler reported that â€œYankees released 1B Chris Gittens, per their transaction page. My understanding is that Gittens intends to play in Japan.â€
He couldnâ€™t produce with the Yankees, but will try to do it in Asia
Gittens, who is 27 years old, was scorching hot in Triple-A, slashing .301/.440/.644 with 14 homers in 184 plate appearances. His wRC+ was an impressive 185. He produces lots of groundballs, but he has the potential to perform in a league like Japan.
Gittens was taken by the Yankees in the 2014 MLB Draft, in the 12th round. In two separate occasions, he has eclipsed the 20-homer barrier in the minor leagues. The Bombers, however, couldnâ€™t give him an extended look.
Yankees hitting coordinator Dillon Lawson said, according to NJ Advance Media, that Gittensâ€™ power is â€œpretty freaking special.â€
â€œWhen youâ€™re in the company of (Aaron) Judge and (Gary) Sanchez and (Giancarlo) Stanton and (Joey) Gallo â€” the top five in the world in exit velocity â€” all of those guys are one of one. Itâ€™s impressive. Heâ€™s a big leaguer, itâ€™s certainly just a matter of when that happens.â€
It looks like â€œHard Hittinâ€™ Chris Gittensâ€ will be taking his talents to Japan, where he should receive more of a chance, like he deserves.