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The Yankees don’t need a left-handed bat

It wouldn’t be a bad move, but it isn’t a necessary one either.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v New York Yankees Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

Throughout this offseason the Yankees have checked off a couple of goals by signing Gerrit Cole, and agreeing to terms with Brett Gardner. These moves bring the organization much closer to reaching and winning a World Series, having created the best Yankees’ rotation in recent memory. Some areas can still be addressed, like acquiring a back-up catcher, adding a veteran reliever, and middle infield depth. However, with how dominant the Yankees’ lineup was last season, adding a left-handed hitter should be a by-product of an acquisition rather than a focus.

With an interest in left-handed hitters, fans are looking for better production against right-handed pitching by using a platoon advantage. The thing is the Yankees performed very well against right-handed pitchers in 2019, generating a team wRC+ of 114 and ranking third overall. If you want to dive deeper, right-handed hitters on the Yankees accumulated a wRC+ of 119 against right-handed pitching, ranking second. Furthermore, the Bombers had six right-handed hitters with 300 or more plate appearances against right-handed pitching each generate a wRC+ of 119 or greater. To help put that into context, only 39 right-handed hitters fit this description and six are on the Yankees, with the closest teams being the Astros and the Athletics, each having four.

Hitters’ Handedness vs. Right-handed pitching

Handedness 300 PA vs. RHP 119 wRC+ or greater Criterias divided
Handedness 300 PA vs. RHP 119 wRC+ or greater Criterias divided
Right-handed 105 39 37.10%
Left-handed 92 31 33.60%
2019 Regular Season FanGraphs

Taking the same criteria of 300 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers but considering left-handed hitters, 31 were able to generate a wRC+ of 119. There are less left-handed hitters in the league but the difference of how many accumulated 300 plate appearances compared to right-handed hitters is only 13. As we know, hitting against pitchers on the major league level is difficult, and even though teams look for platoon advantages, right-handed hitters are just as successful as left-handed hitters.

The six Yankees that produced a wRC+ of 119 or greater in 2019 are led by Gio Urshela and Luke Voit. That doesn’t even include Giancarlo Stanton, who has a career 134 wRC+ against right-handed pitching since joining the majors in 2010. That’s seven above average right-handed hitters who produce well against right-handed pitching, while the Yankees will be carrying left-handed hitting center fielders by the name of Brett Gardner and Mike Tauchman come 2020, leaving one more spot in the lineup. Miguel Andujar will be one possible candidate for that spot, and during his rookie season Andujar hit for a wRC+ of 134 against right-handed pitching over 433 plate appearances.

The Yankees’ lineup wasn’t one of the best in 2019 by accident. They have a ton of hitters who can hit left-handed pitching and right-handed pitching well, with a deep bench that looks to be in good shape for next season. Two of them figure to be Mike Tauchman and Mike Ford, who generated a wRC+ of 115 and 101 respectively against right-handed pitching. Brett Gardner was one of the 31 left-handed hitters to fit into the criteria with a 131 wRC+. The Yankees have three left-handed hitters who hit right-handed pitching well, not counting for the return of switch hitting Hicks mid-season. Only so many left-handed hitters in the league can produce better numbers than the right-handed hitters the Yankees are currently expected to deploy, while the Yankees already have multiple options they can go to.

Yes, adding a Corey Dickerson, Travis Shaw, or Joe Panik, to insert a left-handed bat wouldn’t be a bad move, but it’s not a necessary one either. Everyday players on the Yankees are performing above average compared to the rest of the league against right-handed pitching, and that was accomplished by a historically injured group. This is not to say the Yankees shouldn’t add a left-handed bat, but when looking for a back-up catcher or middle infielder the focus should be improving the team as much as possible regardless of handedness, because the stars on this team are hitting just about everything.