It feels like we’ve been saying this for two years now. Every analysis on the topic starts with “If the Yankees outfield is healthy they can…” Here we are again, crafting similar ideas on the health of our outfield.
This time, though, we’re in a global pandemic where health seems more like a luxury for everybody who manages to steer clear of COVID. It was hard enough to have Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks healthy all at once and now there’s this extra hurdle.
Last year, the Yankees’ depth was their strongpoint when, for parts of the season, we saw Judge, Stanton and Hicks get hurt all at once – with Hicks and Stanton missing a majority of the season. We can say that we can weather the storm again if put in a similar situation, but for this strange year, to expect the type of production we saw when Mike Tauchman was on par with another Mike T in the league for a bit, depth just isn’t something you can rely on.
It’s not to say Tauchman can’t do it again. I have faith he can. Even if last year was for real for Tauchman it’s just now, when a guy like Judge or Hicks goes down, he wouldn’t be coming in after getting regular reps at AAA. He’ll either be coming off the taxi squad or the bench. Any pitching he’ll see will be meatballs down the middle from either BP or in the cage.
To come into a season like that is a recipe for disaster because we’ve seen what happens when a professional the likes of Neil Walker misses a part of spring training and comes into the season. He wasn’t right for a good three months in 2018.
This is why for 2020, more than other years, it’s so important to have Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks healthy. Yankee depth may have been a strength for us last year but right now, if the team finds themselves in a bad spot, there’s no way to pluck a guy from obscurity the way they did with Gio Urshela, Luke Voit, Tauchman and a Cameron Maybin who saw a career resurgence in the Bronx.
I’m normally optimistic but COVID threw everything for a tizzy. Nothing is normal and if the Yankee outfield plans go awry health wise as we’ve been used to, that could be disastrous in a such a short season.
Predictions for starting outfield
Aaron Judge: 50 – 60 games, .275 AVG, .390 OBP, .550 SLG, 140 wRC+
Giancarlo Stanton: 40 – 50 games (Most at DH), .260 AVG, .350 OBP, 530 SLG, 130 wRC+
Aaron Hicks: 50 – 60 games, .250 AVG, .350 OBP, 510 SLG, 115 wRC+
Brett Gardner: 50 – 60 games .240 AVG, .320 OBP, .490 SLG, 100 wRC+