In left field, Aaron Boone and the Yankees are loyal to Clint Frazier, even with Brett Gardner back. That sounds bold, except that in Wins Above Replacement, OPS and RBIs, Frazier led Yankee outfielders in 2021
So this isn’t exactly like, say, the Foo Fighters grabbing the first guy to be their lead guitarist who walked along the street.
In fact, what the Yankees are actually committed to, especially Gardner’s return commitment, is the status quo. Last year, nineteen Yankees batted, and only the guys who placed in plate appearances 17th and 18th are not back. That would be Erik Kratz and Jordy Mercer, the former who retired, the latter who made the Nationals a minor league contract.
So when it comes to their positional party, the Yankees are bringing the band back together. Mainly optimistic, that is. Let’s call the Judge Age 2017-20, a time characterised by the Yankees becoming increasingly right handed and power fanatical. The Yankees finished second, first and fourth in runs per game in that time, without ever dropping below 5.25 a game on average.
In this area, the transfer from Frazier to Gardner just doubles down. Gardner is a leftist and, though his force has been upgraded in recent years, his offence is more complex than anyone else in the Yankee lineup, with the exception of DJ LeMahieu in the past two years.
In Boone’s regular lineup, switch-hitter Aaron Hicks will be the lone left-hand bat. So the Yanks will run out eight straight right hitters before Hicks bats again once Hicks is cleared for the first time. Repeat, rinse. This can, in principle, make the Yankees vulnerable to right pitching while not completely capitalising at home on the short right field porch.
Not all righty hitters are equal. The Yankees have seven that over the last two seasons have combined between .833 OPS and .897 OPS vs. righties: Gio Urshela, Luke Voit, Giancarlo Stanton, LeMahieu, Frazier, Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres; and Gary Sanchez is .795 even after .620 in 2020. Plus, the right-wing Yankee hitters are specialists in the development of opposite-field power. With seven opposite-field homers, LeMahieu led the majors in 2020, while with five, Frazier and Voit were tied for second. LeMahieu’s 19 opposite-field homers are three more than anyone else over the past two years, and Judge’s 15 are tied for fourth.
It always feels correct on paper, literally right, but it never feels right that Ruth and Gehrig and Berra and Mantle and Maris and Reggie’s franchise has been so devoid of leftist diversity. In the postseason, when the bad teams and pitching staff are gone and opponents can feed rightful relief monsters, especially in the long corridors of the Yankee lineup, this often seems more accentuated.