When the 2018 season began, the Yankees boasted a crowded outfield that could hurt opponents with unmatched power at the plate, particularly with the addition of Giancarlo Stanton. Aaron Judge and Stanton, both Gold Glove Award nominees and the two top home run hitters of 2017, highlighted an outfield that also had Brett Gardner and the ever-improving Aaron Hicks.
Fast forward six months, and the Yankees are still looking for that outfield to fire on all cylinders — at least at the plate. After all the hype leading up to Opening Day, the outfield has failed to feed off each other and wreak havoc on opposing pitchers as one collective unit. In April and May, Stanton struggled while Judge thrived, posting a 180 and 161 wRC+, respectively. Meanwhile, Gardner enjoyed his best month of the season in May with a 151 wRC+, while Hicks suffered through his worst full month of the year, finishing with a wRC+ of 89.
July appeared to be the start of the outfielders finally combining to lead a historic offense, as Stanton continued to build off of a remarkably productive June, while Hicks took off with a 1.014 OPS. Even the struggling Gardner lifted his wRC+ above the 100 mark. Before the calendar turned to August, however, Judge went down with a fractured wrist and the outfield hasn’t been able to come together since.
With bats like Shane Robinson playing every day in the outfield, the Yankees saw a drop in production. Stanton did all he could to shoulder the load, posting a .950 August OPS with a bum hamstring. but Gardner posted finished the month with a lowly 74 wRC+, perhaps showing signs of fatigue in an everyday role while Judge mended. Brian Cashman and the Yankees finally addressed the matter just before the waiver deadline, grabbing Andrew McCutchen from San Francisco.
McCutchen has been everything the Yankees could have hoped for, posting an OPS just under .900 as a Yankee to replace the black hole in the lineup that Robinson was. Alas, with the arrival of McCutchen and the return of Judge, Stanton and Hicks have fallen into one of the worst slumps of their respective seasons, while Gardner continues to struggle himself. However, Stanton’s grand slam on Thursday night coupled with Hicks’ three-RBI game on Wednesday night could be a step in the right direction.
With just over a week to go in the season, Aaron Boone and the Yankees would love to see at least one of his struggling outfield bats to catch fire. Stanton and Hicks are crucial bats in the middle of the lineup that can change the landscape of a playoff game and/or series. The offense will need at least one of them swinging the bat well come October. That coupled with Judge’s return would make the Yankee offense a dangerous minefield for opposing pitchers to navigate.