Despite the superstars hogging the headlines, Mike Tauchman has, without a doubt, proved his New York Yankees worth entering the 2020 season.
The moment the pinstripes are thrown on is the second the word “underrated” goes out the window. The New York Yankees ooze so much success that it’s hard to imagine anyone on that team being considered an underdog.
The buzz this offseason has surrounded the acquisition of free-agent ace Gerrit Cole, and from there, the roster has been slowly built. Gary Sanchez will remain the starting catcher. Aaron Judge, Brett Gardner and Giancarlo Stanton will man the outfield. Gleyber Torres, DJ LeMahieu, Gio Urshela and Luke Voit will be taking the infield by storm.
That’s all fine and dandy, but there is one player who has been significantly forgotten surrounding all the star power. While he may not be a big-bopper, Mike Tauchman is an integral part of this Yankees team and proved it this past season.
While it was Tauchman’s first true showing in the major leagues, he impressed at every level. His hot streak in the month of July at the plate was impressive but it was his defense that really stood out for the Yankees in a time where they were incredibly short-handed. And now with Aaron Hicks gone for a significant amount of time following offseason surgery, Tauchman’s defensive prowess will be much welcomed in the outfield.
It’s not just the eye test that Tauchman passes on defense. According to Statcast, Tauchman ranks as the highest Yankee in outs above average (OAA) during the 2019 season with nine. That is good for ninth in all of Major League Baseball as well.
In addition, his 2019 expected catch percentage was 86 percent. As the season drew to a close, the actual catch percentage ended up being 91 percent, a whole five percentage points higher than expected. That marks the second biggest difference in Major League Baseball.
That’s not the only area in defense where he ranks at the top of the pack for the Yankees. While Aaron Judge leads the Bombers with a 25 percent catch rate on five-star catch opportunities, Mike Tauchman leads all of Major League Baseball with a 75 percent catch rate on four-star catch opportunities. With three-star catch opportunities and below, he has a 100 percent catch rate.
This is not Mike Trout. He’s a different kind of Mike. However, he gets the job done on defense and has proven time and time again that he’s one of the more reliable outfielders in the game.
At the plate, things are improving. From 2018 to 2019, Tauchman increased his line drive percentage by 13.8 percent. In 2019, Tauchman also evened out his splits to pull, straight and opposite field. He is working to get his offense up to par with his defense.
But he is a name that is not being thrown around with all the All-Star players surrounding him. However, it’s a name that is a pretty important part of the team.
With the injury bug already looming large, taking Aaron Hicks down with it, Tauchman has an opportunity to take over a starting job if he can continue to produce. The question is, will he be able to keep it up for the second year in a row?
Brian Cashman sought him out due to his defensive abilities, and, once again, was proven right. Mike Tauchman might just be a key cog for this team already brimming with All-Star talent.