The New York Yankees are off to a good start in spring training with just two weeks before opening day at Yankee Stadium. They are 10-4-1. Today we examine 12 players and how they are doing. The report is broken down to the 4 best performances for a hitter, 4 best Yankees’ pitchers, and finally, the 4 Yankee players that have gotten off to a disappointing start. While reading this,, keep in mind that this is spring training and may not represent how the player will play in the regular season, but it does give you a glimpse of the players that may start out hot.
4 of the best player performances:
There may be players with better stats, but to qualify for this section, a player must have at least 10 plate appearances.
If Domingo German is the Yankee pitching star this spring training, then Glyeber Torres is their hitting star. Torres after a very slow start last season is rising to new heights, maybe beyond his 2019 performance and 38 homers. He is batting .381 with a 1.149 OPS. He also is playing pretty good defense at shortstop. Torres came into the 2020 season not in shape after the two spring trainings. But this year he is healthy and ready to go. Manager Aaron Boone is happy from what he has seen of Torres so far in spring training. He is also showing off his power with two homers so far.
Last season Gary Sanchez had about as worse a season that any baseball player could have a nightmare about. His catching was off, and his offense was nowhere to be found. He hit just .147 and seemed completely lost at the plate, both in front of it and behind it. The talk was that the Yankees might not even tender him an offer. But in the end, they did, and all have waited with bated breath to see how he might bounce back in this spring training.
At this point, the New York Yankees couldn’t be happier. He is batting .286 and his power is back. He is hitting a home run in ever 2.1 games, at that pace he could hit 70 home runs and beat Roger Maris’s record. That is of course most likely a pipe dream, but what they Yankees have seen so far from Gary, it is most encouraging.
In spring training, Brett Gardner is being Brett Gardner, the 14 year Yankee veteran is a leader in the clubhouse and on the field. This season he is becoming the super outfield utility man. Although, with Clint Frazier taking over his job in left field, he will still be getting plenty of playing time as he is now adjusting to playing right-field. Aaron Hicks, who knows Gardner well, says he will have no trouble playing there with his experience.
Gardner gets on base, runs, and fields as good as any player. He is the only Yankee to hit a Grand Slam this spring. His batting average is .385 with one home run and the most RBI’s of any Yankee player.
Jay Bruce was one of the players that the Yankees picked up during the offseason. The veteran right fielder is hitting .300 with an OPS of 1.014. He also has two home runs showing off his power. He is a defensive vet that gets on base and hits for power. He won’t knock Brett Gardner off the bench, but he could take the place of Mike Ford, Mike Tauchman or Tyler Wade that is playing very poorly. Bruce, like the others, is also a left-hand hitter.
Honorable mentions: Althugh not meeting the criteria I have to mention two Yankees that are playing exceptional ball. Rob Brantly is hitting .750 in four games with an incredible 3.050 OPS. He is second only to Brett Gardiner in runs batting in. Chris Gittens is an other standout. Gitten has a homer and an OPS of 1.413. He has 3 hits and 2 walks in 7 plate appearances. The are both trying to get a bench spot in the regular season, but with the Yankee depth that likely won’t happen.
The four best pitchers
There is no question that Domingo German is the Yankee pitching star in this spring training. German was suspended at the end of the 2019 season and all of 2020. The Yankees had no idea what to expect after not pitching for so long. But the Yankees have been more than happy with what they have seen so far in their starting pitcher that was 18-4 in 2019 before his suspension. He has pitched more innings than any Yankee pitcher, and with 9 innings under his belt, he has yet to allow a run in 3 games. He is also striking out 14 batters per nine innings pitched. He is one of the pitchers in contention for the fifth spot in the rotation. At the moment, he looks to have a lock on the number four or five spot.
Jonathan Loaisiga is an exciting pitcher. We don’t know if he is a starter or a reliever. He has performed in both roles. So far, his control is excellent. In six innings pitched, he has allowed no runs and has a tiny WHIP of .033. It is doubtful that the Yankees will add him to the starting rotation, but they will seriously look at him if there are any injuries.
Nick Nelson may be the surprise of spring training. Nelson is a reliever that is looking to make the team in the bullpen. Right now, he is one of the best relievers in spring training. He has relieved in 6.1 innings and has not allowed a run. He has also struck out one player per inning. Whatever he is doing, he needs to continue to do it. The Yankees noticed his potential late in the last season.
Jameson Taillon came to the New York Yankees via a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He is coming back from his second Tommy John surgery. The Yankees took quite a risk acquiring a pitcher that hasn’t pitched in nearly two years. They hoped for the best while hoping he could at least replace Masahiro Tanaka, who is now pitching in the Japanese leagues. So far this spring training, he has not disappointed. He has an ERA of .000 with no runs allowed in 5.2 innings. What is really encouraging to the Yankees is that he looks even better than his stats and is totally healthy.
4 disappointing starts
In listing these players, it’s not so much that they are off to horrible starts, but the reason they are highlighted here is that so much is expected of them, and so far, they have not risen to those heights.
We all know that Gerrit Cole is our New York Yankees ace, and we all expect a 20 game winning season. Short of that, we will be somewhat disappointed. Cole, at the moment, pitching over the qualifying 5 innings, has the highest ERA of any starter (4.50). One conversation with Cole, at least at the beginning of the season, is who he will be throwing to. In his first game, he struggled with Gary Sanchez catching him. In his second outing, he pitched much better when caught by Kyle Higashioka. It’s a small sample but worth noting.
Aaron Judge is healthy, and we all expect from his hot start last season that he would have two or three home runs in the first weeks of spring training. However, that is not the case this spring training, he has none, and his batting average is only .227. If he remains healthy and finds his timing, he will surely be a hitter to be contended with. The Yankees would like to see a return to his 2017 season, but will be happy if he just stays healthy.
Michael King is not off to a horrible start but pitching the second-most innings, he has the second-highest ERA. Michael King is also a pitcher fighting for the New York Yankee’s fifth spot in the pitching rotation, which makes his performance even more important.
Probably the most disappointing start to the season belongs to Luke Voit. Last year while being dogged with a foot problem, he worked through it and hit 22 home runs in the short season, which gave him the award for the most home runs of any baseball player. This season he says the foot issue is behind him, and he is totally healthy. But in this spring training, he has hit no home runs and has the lowest (.111) batting average of all regular lineup players.
All the others:
New York Yankees hitters and pitchers not included in this article either didn’t meet the criteria (haven’t played enough) or are hitting and pitching as expected. One must remember that this is only spring training and pretty much has to be taken with a grain of salt. It’s a long 162 game season, and pitchers and hitters have plenty of time to show their worth.