The expectations were high for MIke Tauchman coming into 2020. He was coming off a breakout performance in 2019, where he went from a player struggling to find a role with the Colorado Rockies to a key piece of the Yankees’ AL East winning club. Many were ready to hand him the starting left-field job, but things did not go as planned. Tauchman struggled to match his production on offense or defense, and was relegated to a far lesser role to finish the season.
2020 Statistics: 43 G, .242/.342/.303, -0.2 fWAR, -0.2 bWAR
2020 Contract Status: Arbitration Eligible in 2022, Free Agent in 2025
Coming off a dynamic offensive season, Tauchman actually saw his walk rate improve by 1.1% and his strikeout rate decline by 0.6%, but that does not tell the story. Tauchman lost the ability to make quality contact with the ball, registering just a 84.9 mph exit velocity on the season, down 3.8 mph from 2019.
After pulling the ball 31.6% of the time in 2019, that number dropped to 21.4% the past season. It was apparent as Tauchman hit repeated weak flyballs to the left-side of the field. His inability to hit the ball hard resulted in a 7.1% increase in the amount of soft-contact.
The most glaring stat on Tauchman’s stat line was the zero home runs he posted in 95 at-bats. The evaporation of his power extended beyond home runs, and he posted just a .063 ISO on the season.
Tauchman’s value was not tied exclusively to his bat in 2019, as he was also a plus defender for the Yankees at all three outfield positions, posting a +18 DRS. That was not the case this past season, as Tauchman posted zero Defensive Runs Saved with a negative UZR at each of the three positions.
Part of Tauchman’s defensive decline can be tied to his slower sprint speed this season. According to Statcast, Tauchman’s speed declined by almost a foot per second. The drop was big enough to drop him to the 18th percentile in league rank from the previous season.
The Yankees will have to evaluate what happened with Tauchman’s this season. Saying that he is just entirely a product of the 2019 juiced baseball ignores the fact that his sprint speed declined, and he lost the ability to pull the ball. The team may know if he was battling injuries or if there is another underlying metric that indicates he will.
Tauchman will have to earn his playing time next season. In his last nine games of the season he only recorded nine plate appearances. In the playoffs he only appeared as a pinch-runner in the Yankees’ 10-9 win over Cleveland in Game 2 of the American League Wild Card Series.
Mike Tauchman’s 2020 production drop off punched a hole in the Yankees’ depth and plans for 2020 and beyond. The team was able to overcome it, but Tauchman was not a big part of their plans down the stretch and into the playoffs. Tauchman will now have to find his magic from 2019 if he is going to carve out a niche with the team in 2021.