For Yankees fans, seeing Brett Gardner in the outfield has been standard for more than the last decade. Obviously, this year has been anything but ordinary. Instead of seeing Gardy run out to left field this year, we may see Mike Tauchman patrolling left for the majority of the shortened 2020 season.
Gardner, 36, is coming off one of the best seasons of his 11-year career. He mashed a career-high 28 home runs in 141 games, and posted a 115 wRC+ and 3.6 fWAR. He was, without a doubt, a valuable part to the Yankees last year. Gardy has always been a fan-favorite, which makes it even harder to swallow that his career is winding down. He will always be a gamer, but Tauchman is the better every day option for the Yankees in 2020.
Tauchman was acquired from the Colorado Rockies just before Opening Day in 2019. He had very limited opportunities playing out west, but once he got his shot in New York, he took advantage. In 87 games, the “Sockman” slashed .277/.361/.504 with a 128 wRC+ and a 2.6 fWAR. As a lefty bat in Yankee Stadium, he is a perfect match.
While the 26-year-old was a presence at the plate, he was an even better defender. He put up borderline elite numbers with his glove as he was credited with nine Outs Above Average, the third-most among American League outfielders. Let’s not look past his Defensive Runs Saved numbers, either. His 18 DRS was good for the second-most among AL outfielders, only trailing his fellow teammate, Aaron Judge who had 20 DRS.
In a short season of just 60 games, everything counts that much more, and the Yankees know they can count on Tauchman in the field and at the plate. Gardner has always been known for his speed, but Tauchman isn’t too far behind. In fact, according to Baseball Savant, Gardner has just a slight edge over Tauchman in terms of their “home to first” times. It takes Gardy 4.06 seconds, while Tauchman gets to first in 4.23 seconds.
What feels like ages ago, Tauchman did not have a very good spring training. In his nine games, he hit .080/.200/.080. It was not what he, nor the Yankees were looking for. Though, he’s turned it around in summer camp and has been seeing the ball really well.
Mike Tauchman leads off with a single and the virtual crowd goes WILD pic.twitter.com/pcEkMpjmgB— Max Goodman (@MaxTGoodman) July 17, 2020
An every day outfield that consists of Mike Tauchman, Aaron Hicks, and Aaron Judge would be among the best, if not the best defensive outfield in all of baseball. Brett Gardner has been the pulse of the Bombers for many years and can still be that guy in the dugout for his team. He will still see the field as he’s still a good player. But right now, Tauchman would be an upgrade in that Yankees lineup and should start over Gardner once the regular season begins.