The New York Yankees outfield has been thoroughly revitalized with the return of Harrison Bader and Aaron Judge, but the left field position remains unresolved. Manager Aaron Boone has been rotating players in this position daily, offering playing time to Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Oswaldo Cabrera, and, most recently, Jake Bauers.
There is still a possibility for general manager Brian Cashman to procure an outfielder at the summer deadline, but that consideration remains several weeks away.
Other teams are still assessing their playoff potential — the Yankees aim to avoid paying a premium for a player at this point. However, if some teams falter, it wouldn’t surprise me if Cashman sought a temporary solution for the remainder of the 2023 season, thereby addressing an inconsistent position that could certainly benefit from an upgrade.
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The Rise of Jake Bauers for the Yankees:
Nonetheless, Jake Bauers, a Triple-A sensation, has been exceptional in recent days. Before his promotion, Bauers had a batting average of .304 with a .448 OBP and a 1.245 OPS, including nine home runs and 20 RBIs over just 21 games with Scranton.
He has carried this success into his time with the Yankees, batting .286 with a .360 OBP, two home runs, and four RBIs, boasting a 151 wRC+. Despite a 36% strikeout rate, his 12% walk rate ensures his efficient presence on base.
Bauers has gradually improved his plate discipline and swing decisions, combining them with solid power. He currently boasts a 69.2% hard-hit rate and a 30.8% barrel rate, with an average exit velocity of 97 mph.
With a maximum exit velocity of 113.5 mph and a 15.7° launch angle, Bauers has proven to be a valuable asset from the left side of the batter’s box. Defensively, he has a .909 fielding percentage with one error over 50.1 innings. He’s been roughly an average defensive player, but the Yankees are in dire need of offensive support from the left field position, and Bauers is providing it in abundance.
Considering IKF is batting .182 with a .232 OBP and holds a 23 wRC+, it’s safe to say he’s not a contender for significant starting opportunities.
Oswaldo Cabrera has performed equally poorly, batting .202 with a .244 OBP. He’s hit two home runs with 13 RBIs, but his low 4.8% walk rate suggests a lack of discipline. He’s earned a 45 wRC+ so far, indicating that he’s 55% below the average MLB player.
Defensively, Cabrera is versatile, having played 235.1 innings in the outfield this year, including three defensive runs saved. As an infielder, he’s been equally competent, but the team is in desperate need of scoring runs, and Bauers provides the best option in this category.
It will be intriguing to see how the Yankees strategize once Giancarlo Stanton recovers from his hamstring injury. Manager Aaron Boone did suggest that Stanton had been working on his defensive game during rehab sessions, but it’s safe to assume he will be the primary designated hitter for the remainder of the season.