With all the chatter of the New York Yankees looking for another improvement via trade, many are forgetting two significant sluggers who can and will be the ultimate answer.
Since June 25 and July 4, there have been two prominent hitters missing from the New York Yankees lineup.
The Kraken, otherwise known as Gary Sanchez, was placed on the 10-day disabled list on June 25 with a right groin strain. Soon after, Gleyber Torres hit the 10-day DL on July 4 after suffering a right hip strain.
That being established, since their time spent on the disabled list, there has been an uptick in chatter of the New York Yankees looking to land another big-time bat in the lineup. Without a daily supply of the rookie sensation, Gleyber Torres, the Yankees seem to be missing a piece of the puzzle. Pile that up with Sanchez on the DL as well, and it makes for a weakened starting nine.
Gleyber Torres has played in 63 games for the #Yankees in 2018.
Record w/ Torres : 45-18 (.714 W%)
Record w/o Torres : 17-15 (.531 W%)
Can't wait for this kid to get back. #PinstripePride #GleyberGOOD
— Chris Stacy (@ChrisJr_NYYST) July 17, 2018
The Yankees have not shied away from scoring runs this season. One would beg the question as to why adding a fresh bat is even necessary. New York ranks third in the Major Leagues in total runs scored (493) trailing Houston and Boston in that respective category. However, there is a statistic that has been at the forefront of what you could call the Yankees’ struggles this season — if there has been any.
Because before I get to the next point let’s realize this team is 29 games above .500 at 62-33. In many seasons, that would be enough for a five-to-seven-game lead in the division race. Not this season. The Boston Red Sox sit comfortably at 68-30, with a four and a half-game lead in the AL East. They don’t look to be slowing down either, which at this point is not a knock on the Yankees as much as it is a credit to how good the Red Sox are this season.
Sometimes you just have to tip your cap, but that’s not the New York way, now is it?
Manny Machado has been at the top of many Yankees’ fans wish list and for good reason. Anytime you plug a player of his caliber into a lineup, it’s potentially good for 5-10 wins. But, with him taking his talents to the Los Angeles Dodgers it is no longer the answer to a problem the Yankees have seen take shape in the last month and a half: lack of production with runners in scoring position.
During the period from June 1 up until July 7, the Yankees with runners in scoring position had one of the worst stretches a team could fathom. They hit a mere .161 and in the four days prior to July 7, they were 3-for-36 (.083). New York went 21-12 during that time and in those 12 losses were 7-for-86, which amounts to a .081 batting average (stats courtesy of Katie Sharp, The Athletic NYC).
Dually noted, Sanchez had been out of the lineup by June 25 and Torres would soon follow him.
Were they the missing pieces responsible for this debacle? Not solely, but they definitely left a hole in this lineup they haven’t been able to replace. Since July began, the Yankees are 9-6, which has put them on pace for their worst monthly record since the season opened.
Gleyber Torres is in store for a solid Rookie of the Year campaign. To not have his bat in the lineup is significant to this Yankees team. You take out his .294 batting average and his .905 OPS, which is best amongst rookies, and it spells for disaster for the rest of the squad. Forget about Machado, put Torres back in this lineup and you have you’re right-handed power bat you need.
The good news is that Torres is currently in Tampa furthering his rehab after running the bases Monday in Washington and, prior to that, fielding groundballs in Cleveland. The next and final step of his rehab will come this Saturday and Sunday in Minor League games — with the anticipation of joining the team Monday in St. Petersburg when they open up a series with the Tampa Bay Rays.
You may ask, what are Gleyber’s numbers with men in scoring position? The answer is a .333 batting average, .403 on-base percentage, and a .703 slugging percentage — giving him a combined OPS of 1.140. His 19 hits, seven homers, and 34 RBI makes him a crucial part of this Yankees’ starting lineup. One man not being present is a lot to credit these Yankees’ struggles to, but when you dive into his numbers you see how much he means to this team.
And yet … he’s only a rookie.
Gary Sanchez differs at his mediocre .226 batting average with RISP. Yet, I see a way he gets off on a tear when the second half opens up. On a side note, El Gary homered in his first two minor league rehab games on Sunday and Monday but then went 0-for-4 on Wednesday with two strikeouts.
Gary Sanchez hit that home run to the damn moon today at AAA. #Yankees pic.twitter.com/BJHZBneW8D
— Max Wildstein (@MaxWildstein) July 15, 2018
He is expected to rejoin the Yankees on Friday upon being activated off the disabled list.
Before we get further into his hitting woes, Gary has also been at the brunt of much criticism for his defensive skills behind the plate. I think people underestimate how valuable his arm is and his ability to throw runners out. Austin Romine, since taking over, has been a lucky find at the plate. As a starter, he has hit .269 on the year, picking up the slack Gary left behind.
Romine, in a sense, has been just as bad as Sanchez defensively. His lack of ability to throw out base runners consistently has hurt this Yankees team in games.
Gary Sanchez has been on the DL since June 25. Since that day, opponents are 18 of 21 (86%) on stolen base chances.
— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) July 15, 2018
As it stands right now, Gary and his overall .190/.293/.433 slash line has been a thorn in his and the Yankees’ side since the season began. Manager Aaron Boone seemingly will be cautious getting Sanchez back into the lineup because of his early struggles.
Courtesy of Baseball Reference, Sanchez hits better out of the top of the lineup this year — where he has been terrible for a good portion of the season. In the four-hole, he’s been batting .212 and in the five spot in the order, he has hit even worse at .184.
In a very minuscule sample size, Gary has found himself thriving in the sixth-hole of the lineup. He’s gone 4-for-11 (.364) in his 12 plate appearances this season within that spot. Another frightening statistic is when Sanchez has two strikes on him in the count. He has hit .118 in those instances but when early on in at-bats or with no strikes on him, he has hit .263.
I’d look towards seeing Gary Sanchez being more aggressive early in counts in the second half. He is a slugger that has so much pop and potential…it simply doesn’t make any baseball sense as to why is numbers are so anemic. Baseball savants and scouts will tell you that on a given day, The Kraken is the most complete hitter on this Yankees team in regards to his balance and line-drive, level swing. He has not shown any of that this season which makes for a strong reason he is due to have a big awakening.
The problem is still going to be making sure this Bombers squad has the wherewithal to drive in runners in scoring position. Their counterparts to the north have been lights out in that regard, which is the reason why they have scored 37 more runs than the Yankees. Boston has hit .287 compared to the Yankees’ .251 average with RISP and lead the Majors with 393 runs scored in that category.
Instead of the Yankees brass and faithful looking towards another trade partner, let’s look at the cards they were dealt. This lineup at full capacity is a Murderers Row 2.0. Let alone, all nine starters haven’t played together since late June — and had yet to click before seeing Sanchez hit the DL.
Yet, they have weathered the storm and still are 29 games over .500.
Forget about adding another bat to this already potent lineup. The New York Yankees search for the missing pieces of the puzzle end with Gleyber Torres and Gary Sanchez.