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Situational hitting: A key to success in 2020

With the 2020 MLB season just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about what the Yankees need to do to succeed.  Of course, a team needs to combine exceptional pitching, great fielding, and timely hitting in order to dominate on the diamond. Only a well-rounded squad with the ability to perform in all facets of the game can triumph come October.

Today, I’d like to focus primarily on the Yankees’ situational hitting. The ability to hit when the pressure is on can extend an inning, knock a strong starter out of the game, change the momentum, or, most importantly, turn a loss into a win. If the Yankees want to rack up wins in 2020, they’ll need to come through in the clutch.

Last Year’s Team by the Numbers

In 2019, the Yankees were arguably the best team in baseball when it came to situational hitting. Here’s how some of their numbers compared to the rest of the league:

Batting Stats with Two Outs:

  • .835 OPS (1st)
  • 119 wRC+ (1st)
  • .349 wOBA (1st)
  • 344 RBI (Tied 2nd)
  • 101 HR (1st)

Batting Stats with RISP:

  • .891 OPS (1st)
  • 130 wRC+ (1st)
  • .366 wOBA (1st)
  • 587 RBI (3rd)
  • 68 HR (3rd)

Batting Stats with Two Outs and RISP:

  • .823 OPS (5th)
  • 116 wRC+ (3rd)
  • .346 wOBA (4th)
  • 231 RBI (6th)
  • 29 HR (5th)

Key Yankees for 2020

With a few exceptions, Boone’s 2020 lineups should look fairly similar to the ones that he penciled in last year. Fortunately, many of the Yankees on this year’s team had a lot of success in key situations during the 2019 campaign. Here’s a look quick look at some of last year’s major contributors:

2019 Batting Stats with RISP:

  • LeMahieu: .392 AVG, .441 OBP, .425 wOBA, 170 wRC+
  • Torres: .344 AVG, .379 OBP, .403 wOBA, 155 wRC+
  • Tauchman: .324 AVG, .400 OBP, .414 wOBA, 162 wRC+
  • Voit: .308 AVG, .439 OBP, .402 wOBA, 154 wRC+
  • Urshela: .333 AVG, .367 OBP, .343 wOBA, 114 wRC+

The ability of these particular Yankee hitters to come up big with runners in scoring position was critical to the team’s dominance. It may be unfair to expect similar numbers from these players two years in a row; however, anything even remotely close should result in an excellent offense and a lot of wins.

Should some of the players mentioned above slip into a slump, there’s good reason to believe that other Yankees can pick up the pace. Judge and Sanchez were solid with runners in scoring position last year, but they weren’t spectacular. It’s certainly reasonable to assume that they could turn in even better seasons this year. Stanton, a wildcard since he hardly played in 2019, could have a tremendous impact on the team’s situational hitting if he comes through in the clutch on a regular basis.

Timely Hitting Wins Games

With Gerrit Cole set to make his pinstripe debut in a couple of weeks, pitching seems to be foremost in the minds of most Yankee fans. Starting pitching has certainly been a weak point for the Bombers over the past two seasons, so it’s understandable that fans are focused on the rotation above all else. That being said, we should all keep our eyes on the team’s situational hitting stats. If the Yanks rank as highly in these categories as they did last year, we can expect this team to compete for a championship.