There were many bright spots in the Yankees lineup in the American League Division Series. From pitching to hitters, New York seemingly overpowered the Minnesota Twins in every aspect of the game. However, there were some players who had a shaky series, and their success could be vital if the Yankees want ring No. 28.
Stanton generates the most mixed feelings from the fans out of any Yankee on the team. A lot of the time he is booed and ridiculed for little things just because he’s not necessarily a fan favorite. I understand that he tends to strike out a lot, but that makes people forget what type of talent Big G really is. Besides, it’s not like the old days anymore, everyone strikes out now. With that said, Stanton’s ALDS performance wasn’t all that bad. He walked four times and only struck out twice in 11 plate appearances, accumulating to a .455 on-base percentage. That number is well above the major league average, but he did go 1-for-6 over the three-game series.
His strikeout to walk ratio shows that he was seeing the ball well, and even just missed a grand slam in Game One. If there’s one thing he needs to improve on in the next round and beyond, it’s putting the ball in play. There were some pitches that he seemed to have just missed, which could’ve done serious damage. We need to remember that he had just 34 plate appearances in the second half of the season. The more at-bats he gets, the better he’ll get. If he’s not getting good enough pitches to hit, he will gladly continue to take his walks. He’s been in the top 2% of the league in exit velocity each of the last three seasons, so if he puts the ball in play, good things will happen.
The Yankee catcher went 1-for-8 with four strikeouts in the three games against the Twins. His slashline of .125/.417/.125 isn’t all that impressive, but there is one number there that isn’t like the rest, his OBP. Like Stanton, Sanchez was able to get on base via the walk, 25% of the time in the series to be exact. The Kraken is one of the most important players on this entire roster. When he starts slumping, it’s almost like you can feel the lineup deflate a little bit. When he’s hot, you better watch out because he becomes one of the most feared hitters in baseball. Sanchez barreled 19.1% of his hits, which is in the top 1% of the league. We all know he can hit, and the Yankees are going to need his bat come alive in order to advance to the World Series.
Ottavino appeared in all three games against Minnesota. He faced one batter in Game One, and walked him. He worked a scoreless inning in Game Two. In Game Three he faced one batter, and walked him. Both times he entered to face just one hitter, Nelson Cruz, who led the Twins in homers with 41 bombs. To put it into simpler terms, Ottavino was called upon to face the most feared hitter in the opponents' lineup and walked him on both of his attempts. Luckily, the walks didn’t exactly hurt the Yankees all that much, but we saw the strategy that Aaron Boone followed. He was not afraid to deploy his bullpen at any moment in the game. If he is going to continue with that same path, Ottavino is going to have to buckle down (like he did in Game Two) and get those key outs like he has all season long.
With the way Urshela has exceeded expectations in every single way in 2019, I hate having to put him here. He has deserved to be the starter at third in the playoffs, but he needs to step it up a bit. He hit in the nine-spot each game, so him going 3-for-12 in the ALDS with no walks didn’t help to “flip” the lineup over. With that, he had an OPS of .583 and a lowly 49 wRC+. The production we’ve seen from him all year was not displayed against the Twins. Let’s not let three games make us forget that he hit a .314 this year. Yes, his bat was faulty, but his glove remained stellar. Though, if he does not get back into his grove on the offensive side, the Yankees could replace him. Putting DJ LeMahieu at the hot-corner, Didi Gregorius at short, Gleyber Torres at second, and Edwin Encarnacion/Luke Voit at first, Urshela could find his way to the bench.
Stanton, Sanchez, Ottavino, and Urshela are all extremely vital to the success of this team going forward. None had impressive starts to the 2019 postseason, but thankfully for them, it’s not over. With the ALCS beginning this weekend, these four will get their chance to step it up and help propel the Yanks to the World Series and beyond.