The news that Luke Voit has a grade 2 oblique strain means the New York Yankees will be giving starter’s innings to Miguel Andujar, Mike Ford, and Rougned Odor. While they’ve had some flashes, their wRC+ and rWAR numbers are putrid. They’re not players you start on a run for the division crown and for the American League’s top seed. The Yankees should try to make a move to go out and get that first baseman that can hold it down to allow Voit to rehab and give the Yankees an offensive punch. CJ Cron fits this mold and is extremely cheap, being someone who can be a spark for this offense.
Cron is making a mere $1 million this season, and with his offensive production on a team as bad as the Colorado Rockies, it’s hard to see why the Yankees couldn’t go out and grab him. He’s been a steady bat for years, posting a 114 wRC+ from 2018-2020. He’s not a permanent option at 1B, as the idea is that Voit returns to the lineup at some point later in the season and Cron just replaces him as he rehabs, but for that role he’s perfect. So far this season he’s posted a 122 wRC+ and .379 xwOBA, making him a perfect middle of the lineup bat that can give the Yankees the firepower that they need from that position until Voit returns.
Cron from 2018-2020 boasted a .355 xwOBA and yet a .338 wOBA, a discrepancy that seems to be righting itself in 2021. He has always been able to barrel the ball a lot, as (min. 500 PAs) CJ Cron ranked 17th in barrel rate from 2018-2020. He also had the 30th highest max exit velocity, so he can absolutely mash baseballs. Oddly enough, his wRC+ has gone up as he’s been shifted more in 2020 and 2021, so you can chalk his xwOBA and wOBA gap as just some poor batted-ball luck. I think there’s the potential there for Cron with his newfound ability to work more walks to become a really good hitter, as he’s always been able to slug.
If he’s hitting the ball hard and walking, could the Yankees try to lead him off too?
CJ Cron Could Be A Sneaky Leadoff Candidate
The Yankees have tried leading off Voit so, why not try it with Cron? His career BB% is a mere 6.0%, but from 2020-2021 (small sample size) he’s had a 13.3% BB%. Speed hasn’t mattered for the Yankees at the leadoff spot so why not? He boasts a mighty .382 OBP so far this season, and he barrels the ball a lot (13.2% Barrel% from 2018-2020) so he could be someone who either walks or jump on a pitcher early. Cron leading off could set the lineup like this:
CJ Cron 1B
Giancarlo Stanton DH
Aaron Judge RF
Gio Urshela 3B
DJ LeMahieu 2B
Gleyber Torres SS
Clint Frazier LF
Gary Sanchez/Kyle Higashioka C
Brett Gardner CF
While I still would want an outfielder like Joey Gallo or maybe even a superstar like Ketel Marte, it certainly solves the first base problem. He’s affordable, cheap, and rather inexpensive in the trade market, so why not?
Cron won’t change the entire season, but he certainly is a comfortable bat in the lineup. He provides power, some on-base skills, and a decent glove (2 OAA and 0 DRS at 1B), so he should be able to provide a lot of value to this team.