It’s been a crazy few days in the land of baseball. The Houston Astros are on record as cheats. Soon Alex Cora will get the same kick in the ass AJ Hinch and Jeff Luhnow did. With all that negative – well maybe for the sport but not the Yankees – here is a positive. I would just like to remind everyone that Mike Tauchman is awesome.
Now what does Mike Tauchman have to do with the Astros or Red Sox? Nothing actually. I just think it’s worth noting in a single breath his awesomeness, as well as reminding everyone baseball has leveled the reputations of Houston and Boston to the ground. If you love the Yankees, these simultaneous thoughts are the equivalent of having sunshine in your head.
Also, how could a guy who trains with his dog not bring a smile to your face?
In all seriousness, if we’re talking about somebody who could play a big role on this team despite being overlooked during the winter, Mike Tauchman is probably that guy. His role as a 4th outfielder will be pivotal in the first half of the season until Aaron Hicks comes back. Of course, if Didi’s injury return taught us anything last year, it’s that sometimes guys don’t come back the same. If this is the case, Tauchman’s role could be that much more important.
Cashman traded for Tauchman for his glove, but what he did with his bat was the kind of pleasant surprise that makes you wonder if Cash God is actually a scouting magician? It had been the second year the team found production out of a guy plucked from obscurity. First Voit, now Tauchman. (Gio Urshela too. This is the Tauchman article though.)
In April he had a big hit off of an Ace in Chris Sale who just dominated the Yankees in 2018. He even drove in a run against Blake Snell early on in the season – another guy who had dominated the Yankees the year before. Just as Luke wasn’t a fluke, over a prolonged period of time we found out that the Sock Man is for real. Up until his injury in Boston, he’d still been raking. In fact, in the game he got hurt, he hit a rope right to the Pesky Pole.
Now in the event Tauchman doesn’t produce over an .800+ OPS as he did last year and he degrades as a batter like Jackie Bradley Jr – a guy who is as repulsed by hitting a ball as Kate Upton would be repulsed by me if I slid in her DM’s – the one thing he can lean on is his defense. He was spectacular in the outfield last year.
Here is where Fangraphs rates him:
16 Defensive Runs Saved in the Outfield (6th in MLB for OFers / Minimum 600 innings)
Here is where Statcast ranks him in the outfield in a few of their categories. (Minimum 150 Opportunities.)
Top 95% in Outs Above AVG
Top 79% in Outfielder Jump
Top 72% in Sprint Speed
9 Outs Above AVG: (9th)
91% Actual Catch % (16th)
4 Star Catch (26% – 50%) Probability: 75% / Completed 3 of 4 catches (4th)
3 Star Catch (51% – 75%) Probability: 100% / Completed 7 of 7 Opportunities (3rd)
2 Star Catch (76% – 90%) Probability: 100% / Completed 17 of 17 Opportunities (10th)
1 Star Catch (91% – 95%) Probability: 100% / Completed 12 of 12 Opportunities (25th)
About Clint Frazier…
Let me preface what I’m about to say by saying I’m a Clint Frazier guy. I believe in him and his bat. Here’s the thing, by both the eye test and defensive metrics, he is not very good. It’s a shame because, as we’ve heard a billion times, Clint’s bat-speed is electric. The thing is, if Tauchman performs decently at the plate and continues having a stellar glove, there is no conceivable way the Yankees move him out of the 4th outfielder role.
We might see a situation where, if Hicks struggles the way Didi did after coming back from last season, the Yankees could feel comfortable just slotting Tauchman in. In terms of value, Clint couldn’t possibly get an opportunity over him. He might still be in AAA by the end of the year in this scenario
Look at some of these defensive metrics for Clint. It’s brutal.
Minimum 350 Innings from Fangraphs:
-8 DRS (123rd worst out of 140 OFers)
Minimum 75 Opportunities from Statcast:
-13 Outs Above AVG (146th worst of 148 OFers)
4 Star Catch Probability: 0% / Completed 0 of 3 Opportunities (105th worst out of 148 OFers)
3 Star Catch Probability 0% / Completed 0 of 7 Opportunities (141st worst out 148 OFers)
2 Star Catch probability: 42.9% / Completed 3 of 7 Opportunities (146th worst out 148 OFers)
1 Star Catch probability: 71.4% / Completed 5 of 7 Opportunities (147th worst out 148 OFers)
Let’s say Clint’s production is similar to his explosive April. If he hits .283/330/.513 it would still be hard to move Tauchman from his spot. Unless he’s a DH, what he does with his glove can negate his bat.