The Yankees are nearly three weeks into the 2020 season in our MLB The Show simulation, and despite a recent hot streak where the team won four of five, they’re still underperforming with an 11-9 record, while recently getting blown out 17-0 by the Reds (yikes). That loss was the second time in a week that the team was shut out, to go along with a four-game set where the team managed just 10 total runs against the lowly Orioles. What’s behind the offensive struggles?
For starters, we can look at Aaron Boone’s daily lineup which is interesting, to say the least.
The most common edition of the Yankee lineup consistently has Gio Urshela leading off, and in his second season with the Yanks, he’s batting a solid .303, though an on-base machine like DJ LeMahieu, or even Aaron Hicks, who is consistently among the league leaders in working full counts, could be a better option at the top of the lineup. In the No. 2 hole, usually occupied by Aaron Judge, is Miguel Andujar, batting .269 on the season in his first full year back from shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum.
LeMahieu? He’s batting third, and Judge is in the cleanup spot. Looking at the numbers, Judge and LeMahieu are the two Bombers leading the way offensively this season, and it’s hard to get too hung up on LeMahieu in the third spot since he’s among the league leaders in home runs so far this season, but still, it could help to move him up in the lineup and maximize his plate appearances, and the same goes for Judge.
Gleyber Torres and Giancarlo Stanton are batting fifth and sixth, respectively, with Luke Voit batting seventh. Then it gets weird again with Gary Sanchez batting eighth and Hicks rounding out the lineup. Both guys are typically near the middle of the order in real life, and to have dynamic bats like that buried at the bottom seems questionable.
Now let’s get to the really weird stuff, which is when guys are given days off. When the Yanks decide to give Urshela a full rest, Torres plays DH and Thairo Estrada plays short. But that’s not all; Estrada bats SECOND in the order! That’s right, in the most recent game that Estrada played, he batted in arguably the most important spot in the lineup, and went 0-for-4. When LeMahieu is resting, the second baseman is Tyler Wade, and he bats leadoff, pushing Urshela into the two hole. It doesn’t seem like the best way to optimize the offense, and I would argue it has a lot to do with the team struggling to take off and go on an extended hot streak.
The Yankees are currently 12th in the league in runs scored, and are used to being consistently at the top. They’re also second in home runs, so perhaps a more carefully-constructed lineup would put more guys on base for all of these dingers, leading to more runs. We’ll see if the computer makes any tweaks if the offense continues to produce mediocre results.