The 2023 season for the Yankees was not one overflowing with good fortune. In fact, much the opposite, as has been said time and time again. But, the baseball season is a long one, and the Yanks inevitably got a few good bounces, some fortuitous winds, and perhaps some friendly help from their home stadium. The happenstance and luck that play a massive role in every game are an integral part of baseball, for better and for worse. Luck-fueled hits are simply a part of the game, and one that I think can be quite fun.
For this list, I narrowed it down to just extra-base hits, to avoid it being entirely taken up too much by weak infield hits. I also sorted them by expected batting average, in ascending order on XBH this time. So, with that in mind, here are the five luckiest hits from the 2023 season:
5. Harrison Bader, August 1st vs. Rays
Exit Velocity: 78.7
An interesting one kicks off this list, as it’s not a short porch homer or a mishandled high pop-up. Rather it was just a soft liner that found some grass in front of Randy Arozarena. If I was to guess, this feels like a somewhat reasonable misread on Arozarena’s part. If I just watched the first second or so after Bader made contact, I could probably be convinced that this was a booming homer into the visitor’s bullpen. Perhaps the Rays’ left fielder felt the same initially, allowing Bader to slide safely into second with a rather fortunate double.
4. Estevan Florial, September 22nd vs. Diamondbacks
Exit Velocity: 82.2
This is sort of the textbook luck double, with a twist at the end. Florial got an outside heater and popped it up into the Bermuda Triangle behind third base. This was lucky in its placement, and also in the scorekeeper’s decision to mark it as a hit, as the ball went in and out of Jace Peterson’s glove in the shallow outfield. Two bags wasn’t enough for Florial however, as he tried to head to an unoccupied third base, only to be met and tagged out by the catcher covering. As is the case with most gambles, you can’t win ‘em all.
3. Jake Bauers, August 24th vs Diamondbacks
Exit Velocity: 98.6
It is a worthy member of this list when a double just barely reaches the infield dirt. This was the case for Bauers’ 68-degree launch angle masterpiece. Just two days after this list’s previous entry, Bauer outdid Florial’s work with a sky-scraping ball that another Arizona third baseman in Emmanuel Rivera couldn’t track down in the wind. With a near one percent chance of falling for a hit, Bauers found himself extra bases, and it wouldn’t be his final run-in with good fortune.
2. Oswaldo Cabrera, April 5th vs. Phillies
Exit Velocity: 84.4
There is a definite trend to this year’s moments of good luck, that being high pop-ups toward third base. One of the fun things with each of these plays is that there’s often something or someone involved that we can almost certainly say caused things to fall the way they did. In this case, it was likely the not-so fleet-of-foot Kyle Schwarber manning left field for the Phils. As Cabrera’s 84.4 mph pop up flew toward the Yankee Stadium grass, Schwarber’s uncomfortable-looking race to the ball was not enough to stop luck from playing its role.
1. Jake Bauers, August 4th vs. Astros
Exit Velocity: 94.4
Much like last year, 2023’s list is topped by a Yankee Stadium homer. This time, Jake Bauers notched a doozy against Houston. The lefty’s 323 foot homer not only takes the top spot this year, but beats any entry from last year as well, and you can tell just by watching. Bauers’ towering blast was headed directly for the 318 signage down the left field line, before ultimately hitting the outside of the foul pole, no more than a few inches above the wall. You couldn’t have placed it any better, and as luck would have it, Bauers earned himself a jog around the bases.