I would have thought you were crazy if you told me on Opening Day that by the third week of the 2021 Major League Baseball season, I would be calling for Derek Dietrich in order to help light a fire under the offense. Nevertheless, here we are.
The Yankees rank second-to-last in the league in offensive fWAR and second-to-last in total runs scored and wRC+ in the American League. This horrific stretch of Yankees baseball has been one of the worst I’ve seen in recent memory. Not that you needed context for how bad they’ve been, but just look at how disappointing the bats have been this season in comparison to the rest of the league.
Yankees offensive ranks this season:— New York Yankees Stats (@nyyankeesstats) April 22, 2021
Runs: 59 (28th)
HR: 17 (26th)
BA: .205 (29th)
OBP: .296 (24th)
SLG: .334 (30th)
OPS: .630 (30th)
wRC+: 83 (28th)
Nothing is working and nothing is clicking. The Yankees are truly a frustrating bunch to watch day in and day out, and it’s obvious that they’re in need of a spark plug. Enter Derek Dietrich.
I understand that Dietrich has never been a player who produces eye-popping numbers, but he’s maintained an above average wRC+ over the last seven seasons and can provide a decent power bat to a lineup. If you’re rolling your eyes and thinking that the Yankees don’t need another power bat, we should be aware that the Yanks have hit the least amount of homers in the American League this year with 17. What used to be their biggest strength is now one of their biggest weaknesses.
Something Dietrich brings to the field everyday is his personality—and it’s a big one. The lefty has no problem watching his home runs hit the seats, and he’ll take his time rounding the bases. He’ll irritate the opposing pitcher and team with his occasionally cocky attitude, but that’ll also rile up his own team at the same time. The Yankees are missing their Luke Voit-type of energy right now, and Derek Dietrich could be the one to fill that void.
Energy isn’t the only thing that Dietrich can bring, but it is one of the most important traits he possesses. During these first 17 games, we have not seen the Yankees have fun, nor look like they’re even alive. Tyler Wade has been the team’s primary backup infielder and used as a defensive replacement, but he hasn’t excelled in taking on that role this year, not to mention he probably has the worst bat among the fringe roster contenders. On the other hand, Dietrich can play most of the infield positions and sports better offensive numbers than Wade. It’s also worth noting that he swung the bat with more authority than both Rougned Odor and Mike Ford in 2020, as well. The Yankees would have little to lose by bringing Dietrich up from the alternate site to give him a shot.
Injury may also come into play here, as Gio Urshela left Wednesday’s contest with lower back tightness. Aaron Boone labeled it as a “day-to-day” recovery, but if it’s not, a wide-open spot for Dietrich awaits. The only sacrifice on offense that the Yankees would be making by promoting Dietrich over Wade would be his speed, but speed doesn’t matter much if guys aren’t getting on base. Dietrich’s ceiling is much higher than Wade, and I think we’ve all seen the most of what Wade can do.
I’m not going to sit here and try to convince you that Dietrich is going to be the savior that this team has been searching for. What am I saying is that there is a possibility that he can be the spark plug and the boost this offense desperately needs and can help get the lineup to click again. Besides the lack of production, energy and passion has been something that the Yankees have been missing all season long. Derek Dietrich can provide them with just that.