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The playoff gene: who has it and who doesn’t

Some players are born to shine come October, while others shrivel up under the bright lights of playoff baseball. The 2019 Yankees have their sights set on a championship, and expectations from the fan base match that. This roster’s playoff experience is fairly low, but each of the projected starting players, with the exception of Mike Ford, have accumulated at least some playoff experience. Let’s see who has produced thus far into their postseason careers.

Gary Sanchez – 75 PA, .271 wOBA, 66 wRC+

Sanchez’s overall postseason numbers aren’t great. While he has managed 5 home runs, he has just 14 hits and 2 walks across 75 plate appearances. The Yankee catcher has a lot to prove heading into the postseason this year.

Luke Voit – 21 PA, .332 wOBA, 110 wRC+

Voit’s only experience comes from last season’s wildcard and ALDS. Though a small sample size, he has 4 hits (1 triple) across 21 plate appearances with no home runs. His 4 walks are nice to see, but probably not enough to tilt the current roster crunch in his favor, as he’s currently at risk of being left off the ALDS roster thanks to his below-average play since returning from injury earlier this year.

DJ LeMahieu – 23 PA, .237 wOBA, 36 wRC+

The Machine has experience in the 2017 and 2018 NL Wildcard games and last year’s NLDS. The results have been very un-DJ like. Across 23 plate appearances, he’s mustered just 3 hits and 3 walks. Given his breakout season, there’s every reason to expect that could change this October.

Didi Gregorius – 77 PA, .307 wOBA, 90 wRC+

Didi, like Sanchez, has accumulated most of his postseason experience with the Yankees the past two seasons, though he did play in the 2015 AL Wildcard game against the Astros. His numbers are pretty good, with 17 hits and 3 home runs along with 7 walks. Nobody will forget his big home run in the 2017 AL Wildcard game, and the Yankees hope he’ll jump out of his offensive woes this season come playoff time.

Gio Urshela – 13 PA, .146 wOBA, -25 wRC+

Most fans probably don’t remember that Urshela played against them in the 2017 ALDS when he was a member of the Cleveland Indians. The results weren’t pretty. He had 2 singles across 13 plate appearances. Though he’s struggled a bit offensively of late, this is not the same Urshela from 2017. No one will be surprised if his clutch hitting this year continues into the postseason.

Brett Gardner – 146 PA, .230 wOBA, 37 wRC+

Gardner has the most playoff experience of any current Yankee, having played through the 2009 World Series run and every postseason since. His results, however, haven’t been great. He has just 26 hits, only 4 of which went for extra bases, across 146 plate appearances. Gardner is one of the hottest-hitting Yankees right now, so this could be a chance to put past playoff woes behind him.

Aaron Judge – 79 PA, .412 wOBA, 162 wRC+

Judge has easily been the best postseason performer on the roster, and it’s not even close. Across 79 plate appearances, he has 17 hits, 7 of which are home runs. Additionally, he’s walked 12 times. If someone is set to carry this team through this playoffs, it very well could be Judge. His combination of power and ability to control the strike zone will prove huge in the Yankees’ playoffs chances.

Giancarlo Stanton – 22 PA, .284 wOBA, 77 wRC+

Even though Stanton has been in the league since 2007, his only playoff appearance came during last season – the results of playing for a terrible Marlins franchise. Last season he was basically average, with 4 hits and a walk through 22 plate appearances, one of those hits being a home run. Stanton might be the biggest wildcard this postseason. He’s a streaky hitter, but if he can get hot, he can carry a team for weeks. The Yankees would sure take that.

Edwin Encarnacion – 107 PA, .314 wOBA, 96 wRC+

Encarnacion has a fair amount of playoff experience with Toronto and Cleveland. His numbers aren’t spectacular, but they’re not terrible. He’s managed to walk 14 times to go with 22 hits across 107 plate appearances. Surprisingly, he only has 4 home runs. If he ends up being healthy enough to start in the ALDS, the Yankees will hope to see his October power improve.

Gleyber Torres – 18 PA, .272 wOBA, 69 wRC+

Torres only has last year’s playoffs to work with, with pretty middling numbers. He had 4 hits and 2 walks across 18 plate appearances with no extra-base hits. Torres, along with LeMahieu, has been one of the rocks on this team in terms of consistency. There’s no reason to think he won’t continue to produce when the calendar turns.