The New York Yankees have a long way to go to make the playoffs but the glaring inconsistency in the DH spot will make it incredibly difficult.
It’s been one heck of a ride for the New York Yankees this season. First, red-hot. Then, suffering from a massive amount of injuries. Now, barely keeping afloat in the tough American League East division.
Above all of this, recent talk has been surrounding the position of the designated hitter. Once held steady by newcomer Matt Holliday, his latest injury has put the Yankees in yet another hole as to who should fill that position.
And the Yankees have had to do this before. In fact, this season the Yankees have started 10 different players at the DH position. Typically teams rely on one or two players to vacate the spot — but this year, the Yankees have turned the DH slot into a game of roulette.
It hasn’t paid off for them in the least. If they continue to do what they’ve been doing, it will ultimately be their downfall to end the season.
This season, the Yankees DH’s are batting .221, their lowest batting average at that position since 2013. Batters in the DH position have only hit 16 home runs, their lowest total in the last ten years.
But there’s still time to overcome this slide they’re in. The problem is, if history means anything, the way they are playing with the DH position will hurt them.
In those two seasons, the batting averages weren’t the highlight of the performances at DH. It was the amount of home runs that were crushed from that position (27 from Matsui and 33 from A-Rod).
In the past, the idea of a consistent DH was pretty common. Some players were signed solely for the purpose of serving as an offensive threat without having to worry about adding them to the lineup defensively. Now, the Yankees have so many young studs that turning them into a full-time DH would be a liability.
That’s why the Yankees signed Holliday. They hoped he could be a constant producer in that lineup and potentially get them back to playoff glory. Unfortunately, injuries derailed that plan.
So, what do the Yankees do? Not what they’re doing right now. They are subbing in various options that are struggling offensively simply to fill that void that Holliday has left.
And it hasn’t worked.
Sure, they want to give some players a night off from defense. Aaron Judge’s bat needs to be in the lineup. You want to keep the young, power guys in the game at some capacity, right?
Yes, you do. But you don’t want to continuously switch up who is taking over that role. Three or four people? Sure. But 10? That’s just asking for trouble.
You’re not even giving a few major guys time to focus on the mentality of being in the DH position. And yes, it does take a certain mentality to only focus on at-bats as opposed to both that and fielding.
Instead, the Yankees are making it a free-for-all as to who gets the position. It is a constant shuffle of new faces taking over the DH position. Brett Gardner gets a shot, as does Jacoby Ellsbury, Starlin Castro and Clint Frazier.
If they focused on keeping fewer options in the bank to sub in for the DH, they would be better off.
Too much inconsistency in the DH position has proven to be risky for the Yankees, much like it has in years past. When they have a primary DH with an occasional substitute, the Yankees are able to get the most out of this position.
So, what’s the plan for the rest of the season? Utilize every single player on the roster for the DH position or swap out two or three guys until Holliday returns?
The answer is simple. But let’s see if Joe Girardi is going to go with proven history or gut feeling. Whatever he chooses will ultimately make or break this season.