As it currently stands, the Yankees don’t have any left-handed hitters on their projected 25-man roster. Didi Gregorius and Neil Walker were replaced with Troy Tulowitzki and DJ LeMahieu, two right-handed hitters, and Greg Bird looks like he’ll be replaced with Luke Voit, another right-hander. There’s a very real chance that Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks, a lefty and switch hitter, will be the Yankees’ only options from the left side.
Those facts might be a little surprising, especially for a team that plays in a stadium notoriously friendly to left-handed power. Still, the Yankees’ lack of lefties is actually not a problem for a few reasons. Namely, the Yankees’ hitters aren’t all that susceptible to platoon splits, right-handed hitters still take advantage of the short porch, and AL East pitching is ridiculously tough on left-handed hitters.
Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are the cornerstones of the Yankees’ lineup, and literally no one in the league hits the ball harder than those two. In 2018, Judge ranked first in the league in average exit velocity. While Stanton placed fourth on that list, he actually had the hardest hit ball in the league at 121.7 MPH. Coincidentally, that hit came off a right-handed pitcher. Here’s the video:
I’m not going to spend a ton of time on these two guys because they’re legitimate MVP-caliber players. When you’re as good as Judge and Stanton, it doesn’t matter who is on the mound.
There are a couple of other guys in the lineup that find a lot of their power to right field, too. The primary example of this is Luke Voit. No doubt 2018 was a small, but impressive sample size. I’ll let Voit’s spray chart from last season do the talking:
That’s a whole lot of power to the opposite field. If he continues to do that in 2019, the Yankees won’t be missing any lefty at-bats.
Although he’s not much of a power hitter, DJ LeMahieu does wear out the right-to-right-center field gaps as well. FanGraphs recently called LeMahieu “one of the most extreme opposite field hitters of this era.” He might not clear 15 homers a season, but he’ll definitely be taking some shots at the 314 sign down in right.
There’s also Gleyber Torres, who knocked 24 homers last year — and ten of them went to right or center field. He was also was bad against righties as well. He was still an above-average hitter against right-handers, certainly good enough to avoid any kind of platoon.
Speaking of good against right-handers, the Yankees have Gary Sanchez and Miguel Andujar. Both players find most of their power to left field, but they more than hold their own against right-handers. For what it’s worth, Sanchez has a higher batting average against righties. More importantly, his career OPS is .847, and his career OPS against right-handers is .839, meaning he’s essentially the same hitter regardless of who is on the mound.
On the other hand, Andujar actually has a reverse split. His overall OPS last season was .855 and against righties the number went up to .869. He was still better than league average against southpaws, but against righties, he was unquestionably superior.
It might be a blessing the Yankees don’t have many left-handed batters because the AL is going to be extremely tough on lefties. With the exception of the Baltimore Orioles, the aces of the AL East are all tough left-handed pitchers. From Chris Sale and David Price over in Boston, to Blake Snell down in Tampa, and even Marcus Stroman up in Toronto, they’re all better against lefties than righties. Granted, few hitters did well against Sale or Snell last year, but I’d rather a right-handed lineup than a left against those guys.
Between the MVPs, the opposite-field power, and the reverse splits, the Yankees probably won’t feel an impact from not having all that many lefty at-bats in the lineup this year. I’ll leave Aaron Boone with the last word though. The Yankees manager said to Pete Caldera earlier this week, “We’re going to have a stud lineup we roll out there at you every day. Is it perfect that it may be heavily right-handed most days? Maybe not, but I think we’ll be all right.”