Every season, there’s a handful of players that come to the plate against the Yankees and make you say, “here we go again.” It’s not always necessarily the best players in the league, but there’s bound to be somebody who takes their game to another level when they face the Yankees.
This isn’t to say that these players are guaranteed to be a thorn in the Yankees’ side in perpetuity, the way, say, Evan Longoria was for years, just that they’ve crushed the Yankees so far. Here are this season’s most notorious Yankee killers:
You can’t have a list of Yankee killers without someone from the Red Sox. The Yankees have dominated the season series against the Red Sox, but Martinez has continued his assault on Yankees’ pitching since signing as a free agent in Boston. In 15 games, Martinez is slashing .373/.456/.780 with a league-leading six home runs against New York. In fact, since signing in Boston, Martinez leads all MLB batters with 10 home runs against the Yankees, six of them coming at Fenway Park.
Everybody expects Martinez to tear the cover off the ball, but I’d be willing to bet not a lot of Yankees fans knew who Renato Nunez was heading into the 2019 season. Nunez flew under the radar in 60 games for the Orioles last season, but he actually batted .387 in eight games against New York, slugging two home runs and driving in seven.
That was just the beginning for the 25-year-old third baseman. This season, Nunez is tied with Martinez for the most RBI (12) against New York, and is second only to Martinez with five home runs in 13 games. Many opponents have given J.A. Happ trouble this season, but none more so than Nunez. In six at-bats against Happ, Nunez has four hits, including three home runs. Luckily for the Yankees, Gleyber Torres has twice as many home runs as Nunez (10) in those same 13 games.
Few players love to face the Yankees like Benintendi does. In 56 career games against the Yankees, Benintendi is slashing .310/.364/.515, good for a 130 wRC+. For comparison, here are Benintendi’s career numbers against all other teams: .279/.358/.444 with a 111 wRC+. He’s been particularly tough at Fenway Park, where he owns a .924 OPS in 27 career games against the Yankees. Benintendi is on pace to finish top five in MLB in RBI against New York for the third straight season, making him quite possibly the league’s foremost Yankee killer.
The sample is small, but the production is impressive for Altuve. In only seven games and 34 plate appearances against the Yankees this season, Altuve’s slashing .387/.412/.935 with five home runs, eight runs, and six RBI. The Astros star leads all MLB batters with a 241 wRC+ against the Yankees and trails only the Twins’ Mitch Garver with a 1.347 OPS. The only bright spot for the Yankees is that Altuve struck out seven times in his 34 plate appearances, well above his average strikeout rate. The Yankees are done playing the Astros in the regular season, but could very well see Altuve again come playoff time. Let’s hope the Yankees can get him out in October should the opportunity arise.