As I wrote about before the season started, seeing Brett Gardner in the outfield has been standard for the Yankees and its fans for more than the last decade. However, as his career winds down, his time in the everyday lineup will as well.
We’re 17 games into the season and Mike Tauchman has done his fair share to prove that he deserves a starting spot in the Yankees potent lineup. The outfielder is slashing an impressive .310/.355/.414, paired with a 118 wRC+ and a team-leading four stolen bases through 29 at-bats. Tauchman has produced whenever given the chance, and has been clutch when needed, as well.
Back on August 2, when the Yankees faced off against the rival Red Sox, the game was headlined by a go-ahead Aaron Judge bomb in the bottom of the eighth inning. Though, Tauchman quietly started the rally by getting on base, stealing second, and then DJ LeMahieu (of course) drove him home to tie the game at seven apiece.
That’s not the only example of where Tauchman propelled the Yanks to a win this year. Let’s rewind to August 5 when the Philadelphia Phillies hosted the Bombers for the second half of a doubleheader. The two teams were tied at one in the seventh inning, and in stepped Mike Tauchman with runners on first and second. He proceeded to lace a 3-2 pitch into the right centerfield gap to put the Yankees on top, 2-1. New York went on to win the ballgame by a score of 3-1. So not only has he been a presence in the lineup this year, but he’s come through in big spots.
That summarizes how Tauchman’s 2020 has been, but it doesn’t provide much on Gardy’s year, so let’s look at that next.
Gardner, in 13 games, is hitting .184/.262/.447 with a 95 wRC+. His batting average and on-base percentage are relatively low, but his slugging and wRC+ aren’t too shabby. He started the season slow, 1-for-20 to be exact, and things haven’t gotten that much better. He’s striking out at a 31.6% clip and hasn’t been all that productive at the plate this year, and the numbers are telling. Gardy has been the heart and soul of this team for years and has done so much for the organization, but he’s nowhere near the level he was last year, which was considered one of his best seasons.
Second time tonight Gardner has taken his frustration out on something in the dugout. Understandable. Rough night. Could hear it from the press box.— Brendan Kuty (@BrendanKutyNJ) August 12, 2020
Let’s take a peek at his 2020 MLB Percentile Rankings now. He’s not hitting the ball hard, not getting the barrel on the ball, and striking out a ton. Even his defense has faltered this year with a poor OAA and outfielder jump.
I get it, the sample sizes aren’t too big, but even if you compare their numbers from last season, Tauchman has the edge in a lot of the major stats and is subtlety one of the best defensive outfielders in the major leagues. He can hit, field, and even steal bags. The choice should be clear for the Yankees moving forward: Mike Tauchman needs to play everyday.