By: Justin Girshon
Due to a right calf strain, on Friday, August 14th, the New York Yankees placed star outfielder Aaron Judge on the Injured List (IL). Judge had been off to a hot start in 2020 with a .290/.343/.758 slash line, .450 wOBA, .432 xwOBA, 192 wRC+, 1 OAA, and 1.0 fWAR in 17 games played prior to his injury. Unfortunately, for both Judge and the Yankees, this will be Judge’s third consecutive year landing on the IL. When healthy, Judge is arguably a top 3 player in all of baseball; but, he’s yet to stay healthy for a full season since the 2017 campaign. Although the loss of Judge is a huge blow to the Yankees, the team still has some very good replacement players.
Just before the start of the 2019 MLB season, the Yankees acquired Mike Tauchman from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for minor league pitcher Phillip Diehl. At the time of the acquisition, Tauchman was seen as nothing more than additional outfield depth for the Yankees; but, he proved himself as a valuable asset for the team in 2019. In 87 games played last season, Tauchman had a .277/.361/.504 slash line, .364 wOBA, .331 xwOBA, 128 wRC+, 9 OAA, and 2.6 fWAR. Although Tauchman was great last season, he has struggled to find playing time this season due to his place on the depth chart behind the likes of Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, and Aaron Judge. With Judge now sidelined, Tauchman seems to be the next man up in the Yankee outfield. One of Tachman’s best attributes is the ability to play all three outfield positions at an above-average level, which will lead him to be the everyday right fielder until Judge is ready to return to action.
Before the conclusion of the 2016 MLB trade deadline, the Yankees traded star relief pitcher Andrew Miller to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for a four player package headlined by outfielder Clint Frazier. Frazier has always been regarded as a top prospect but injuries and the outfield depth of the Yankees have held him out of major league action over the past few years. Although Frazier hasn’t seen as much major league playing time as he’d like, he’s performed well at the plate in his limited opportunities. In 123 games played from 2017-2019, Frazier had a .254/.308/.463 slash line, .322 wOBA, .327 xwOBA, 100 wRC+, -15 OAA, and -0.3 fWAR. As seen by his stats from 2017-2019, Frazier has been far from a good defender. Due to his well below average defense, Frazier will most likely see most of his time as a DH but could slide into either right or left field when one of Gardner, Hicks, or Tauchman needs to rest.
Due to Tauchman being a far superior defensive player compared to Frazier, he will likely take over as an everyday outfielder whether it be in right or left field.
Assuming all of the active Yankee outfielders are healthy and playing, Gardner will most likely start in left field, Hicks will most likely start in center field, and Tauchman will most likely start in right field with either Ford or Frazier as the DH.
If one of Hicks or Gardner has an off day, Tauchman will most likely start in left field, one of Gardner/Hicks will most likely start in center field, and Frazier will most likely start in right field with Ford as the DH.
If Tauchman has an off day, Gardner will most likely start in left field, Hicks will most likely start in center field, and Frazier will most likely start in right field with Ford as the DH.
Featured image via bleacherreport.com