What is consistency? The textbook definition is “conformity in the application of something, typically that which is necessary for the sake of logic, accuracy, or fairness.”
In baseball terms, consistency can be summed up simply as performing as expected. There were a number of amazing stretches by players last year but only a four of those players could be considered consistent contributors day in and day out. After compiling some of their baseline statistics from each month, let’s take a look at them and figure out who should win the award for “Most Consistent Yankee”
It can’t be stressed enough how awesome it is to have a shortstop as good as Gleyber Torres. He’s only 23! It bears repeating, 23!
Aaron Judge is obviously a much more advanced hitter (at least in terms of their approaches) than Torres but Judge is 28. I, for one, find watching a kid like Torres mash the way he has much more exciting, especially since he took a step forward last year. Looking specifically at last year, you can see why. He did have three months (but really just two as his March/April wRC+ was 98) where his wRC+ was below average but he did make up for it during the other three months by producing at least 51% better than league average.
He seemed to tale-off at the end of the season but he consistently ran out a decent batting average (at least .261 in all months except September) and in the months he went off, he hit .295, .333, and .277 in May, June, and August respectively. His only really bad month was in July when he posted an OPS of just .693 but he followed that up with an August where he decided everything off his bat was going into the stands. Almost half of his hits in August (13 or 28) went yard. Just look at the .416 ISO he finished the summer with put an exclamation point on a find sophomore campaign.
I don’t think these numbers are consistent enough to take the award home though. Gleyber needs to take the free pass a little bit more in the future. If he can figure out how to take his walks and cut down on his strikeout rate a bit, we could be looking at Derek Jeter with better defense and more power. Yup, I just said that.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is your “Yankee Savior” award winner for sure. When Miguel Andujar went down, nobody knew who was going to be playing third base the rest of the 2019 season. I remember thinking “we just need to get through the first half of the season until Didi gets back.” The idea behind that thought was shifting Torres back to second, DJ LeMahieu to third, with Gregorius playing his natural position. Boy did Gio crap all over that idea.
Urshela came out of nowhere to post four months with at least a 125 wRC+ and two of those months came with an OPS of 1.000. This from a guy who didn’t have an OPS over .608 in an entire season to prior to 2019. Suffice it to say, Gio made a big change. Urshela came out of the gate strong with a .909 OPS buoyed by a .345 batting average and amazing 13.6% strikeout rate. He slipped a bit to a still respectable .844 OPS in May and .333 batting average before having a pretty bad month of June where he hit .232. Even still, his walk and strikeout rates were still within shouting distance of the numbers he put up in the first two months of the season.
Then came July and August. His strikeout rate climbed a bit (at least in August to 22%) but his average came back to what it was at the end of May. In August, he would hit .385 and carry ISOs of .347 and .279 for July and August respectively. The dog days of summer had nothing for Gio Urshela but like Torres, he did fall off at the end of year, which could have been due to playing more than he ever did with Cleveland or Toronto. If he can keep running out at mid-teens strikeout rate with his ability to make good contact, he could find a way to be more consistent. Alas, his 2019, while amazing, wasn’t the perfect example of consistency.
Now we’re really starting to get consistent. Gardner’s 2019 was completely unexpected. He set career highs in homeruns (28) and OPS (.829). How many people had Gardner hitting one less homerun than Judge and Stanton combined? Not me. Looking at his other numbers, Gardy was pretty consistent month to month. His second half was definitely stronger than his first half but he only had one month with a below average wRC+. There were two months were Gardner posted batting averages in the .220s but he also had .200+ ISOs and 10%+ walk rates to counter some of that drag.
Overall, Garder ran out monthly OBPs in the range of .315 to .357. I know .315 doesn’t sound great but if that’s your “low point” on OBP for a month, it’s not that terrible. The unexpected consistency comes from Gardner’s power numbers. He posted a .190 ISO for the month of June and that was his season low. This from a guy who owns a career ISO of .141 that includes 2019. Gardner just seemed to get better and better as the season went on. He finished strong in the second half as well which if you know one thing about Brett Gardner over the years, he doesn’t really do well in the second half. He did see a notable jump in strikeout rate from July through September but do you really care when he also couples that with OPSs of .917, .849, and .966 to go along with it?
Did we really have any doubt who the “Most Consistent Yankee” would be? I’m actually surprised that DJ actually had a month where his wRC+ was below average, if only by a point.
First, we look at those walk and strikeout rates. For as little as he took the free pass, there is also very little spread. He’s stuck in the 6.6% to 8.2% range. Pair that with an excellent strikeout rate every month, in this case anywhere from 12.7% to 15.6%, and you got a guy that will put the ball in play more times than not. When you put the ball in play as much as LeMahieu did, you have a real shot all hitting .400 if the BABIP gods look down fondly upon you. He didn’t actually get to .400 in a month but he got damn close when he hit .395 in June.
DJ hit above .300 in four of the six months and his lowest bathing average was still pretty good at .282. His June and August do stick out in terms of power but those were also months with his highest batting averages. Can we just take a moment to gaze at that slash line for June? .395/.434/.658. I love these sneaky good signings that Cashman lands every now and again. We’re getting sidetracked here, the point is that if you wanted to find a player that did something productive on a consistent basis, you didn’t have to look any further than DJ LeMahieu.
The one theme that was consistent last year was the injury bug. It hit and when it did, it hit hard. We were all very lucky that the Yankees got some consistent production from unexpected sources.