Despite injuries and necessary late-season additions, the Yankees outfield was one of their most productive units this season. Yankees stalwart Brett Gardner may have played his final season in pinstripes, Aaron Judge backed-up his historic rookie season until injuries interrupted it, and the reigning NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton did his fair share of damage. To the grades!
Brett Gardner – GRADE: C+
Brett Gardner, while he had a decent overall season, started to show his age a bit this year. Overall he hit .236/.322/.368 and was worth 2.5 WAR. At the waiver trade deadline, however, the Yankees ran out and acquired Andrew McCutchen to mash lefties, and he ended up taking over the starting position due to Gardner’s lack of punch in the lineup. The Yankees have a team option on Gardner next season worth 12.5M, or they can buy him out for 2M. It’s a net cost of 10.5M to keep him next year for the Yankees and they may do just that, even if they reduce his playing time a bit. Can they spend that money better elsewhere? Probably, but can they get someone this good on a one year deal? Probably not.
Aaron Judge – GRADE: B
Aaron Judge was pretty much the exact same the player he was last year, albeit with fewer homers, but missing 6 weeks of the season will do that to you. Judge has cemented himself as one of the best right fielders in baseball, and if it weren’t for that pesky Mookie Betts in Boston, he would be the best defensive right fielder in baseball, in this writer’s opinion. Remember this game?
In addition to his arm, he also covers a ton of ground. All told Judge was worth 14 runs above average in the field this season according to DRS. His overall power took a step back this season (.528 slugging vs .627 slugging last season) but I think that could be attributed to the injury more than anything else. He showed the same patience, bat to ball skills, and leadership qualities that he showed in his rookie season. What a player.
Aaron Hicks – GRADE: A-
Perhaps an even bigger development for the Yankee outfield was the other Aaron, that of the Hicks variety. Aaron Hicks, really showed why he was a first round draft pick the first half of last season. He hit for power, played a superb center field, and was always on base. Then, unfortunately, he suffered an oblique injury and wasn’t quite the same the rest of the season. Coming into this season the question was, can he sustain his first half performance throughout a whole season? You betcha. All told, Hicks hit .248/.366/.467 and set a career high with 27 home runs this year. That will do just fine from the centerfield position.
Giancarlo Stanton – GRADE: B-
It’s still kind of hard to believe Giancarlo Stanton is a Yankee isn’t it? He didn’t look quite right the first few weeks at the plate, but after that he settled in and raked most of the season. Stanton hit 38 home runs this season and I don’t even recall a time where he was “really hot” like he was for most of the summer in 2017. I do feel like the fan base was waiting for that tear that never seemed to come. Don’t get me wrong, when Judge went down, Stanton carried this team, but I don’t think we’ve seen the best baseball from Giancarlo in a Yankee uniform. I expect him to be even better next season, and if Judge is himself and Gary somehow can return to form…woah,
Andrew McCutchen – GRADE: A
McCutchen came over in the August waiver trade deadline. It was one of the more significant waiver trade deadline deals I can remember the Yankees making in a long time. The most obvious non-move they made last year was not going after Justin Verlander. Damn you luxury tax, but I digress. McCutchen played so well for the Yanks (.253/.421/.471) that a lot of fans are clamoring for the Yankees to resign him. I would be open to that idea; however, I don’t want to be stuck with an aging veteran’s contract yet again. They need an outfielder for sure, but they may choose to use Gardner’s option and roll with the combination of him, Giancarlo, and Clint Frazier in left field next season. It would certainly be the cheaper option. I think McCutchen is going to get a nice 3 year deal somewhere, and I’m not sure the Yankees are going to pony up for that when they can have Gardner back so cheap for one season. Thanks for the good time and awesome Instragam videos, Cutch.