When he was dealt to the Yankees a few days before Opening Day last season, many did not know what to expect out of Mike Tauchman. He was a 28-year-old outfielder from Colorado who saw little playing time at the major league level during his tenure there. Now through a season in pinstripes, New York knows what they have in Tauchman — a borderline elite defender with a solid bat. His nine outs above average was good for fourth-best in the American League.
Unfortunately, his season ended abruptly after straining his left calf in September that put him on the shelf for the rest of the year. After fully recovering from that setback, Tauchman believes he’s prepared his body correctly for the upcoming season.
“I guess I can only speak for myself,” Tauchman said. “But the things that I did this offseason and the things I did during the rehab will put me in a good position to, you know, stay healthy throughout the season.”
Hopefully for him, he’ll be able to stay on the field and help his team win games. Though, in his nine games during spring training, he didn’t perform all that well at the plate. A slashline that consisted of a .080 batting average, .200 on-base percentage, and .080 slugging percentage is not what he, or the Yankees were looking for.
We all know not to put too much stock in spring training stats. But coming off an injury, it carries a little more weight in order to prove that a player is back in the swing of things. In all likelihood, Tauchman is fine and just readjusting to seeing live action for the first time in awhile. With Opening Day being pushed back even further, however, it gives time for other outfielders like Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Aaron Hicks to recover from their injuries and get back on the field faster. This could bump Tauchman out of the lineup.
Let’s not forget how good Tauchman’s numbers were in 2019 though. He put together a solid campaign, hitting for an .865 OPS, a 128 wRC+ and collecting 2.6 fWAR. But if you dig deeper, he outperformed his expected stats a lot, which could indicate good fortunes. For example, his xSLG was 92 points below his actual slugging percentage, which was the biggest difference out of his expected stats. He also struck out in nearly 25 percent of his at-bats, which is something he could work on reducing.
Tauchman does hit the ball hard and walks a good amount. He has a high upside if he gets a good amount of playing time. If he’s able to get back on track after a rough spring, he could be a regular in the Yankee outfield giving starters days off. His exceptional defense and left-handed bat will play a big factor in starting the year with the big league team. But with a lot of competition for everyday action and no more spring training games to play, it could be tough for him to make his case stronger before Opening Day.