If there were any prevailing themes for the Yankees’ 2023 season, it would seem fair to include crummy luck among them. Tough bounces and bad break here or there is simply a part of baseball, or just life, and one that at least keeps things interesting. Any team in any given year is subject to the decisions of Lady Luck, but 2023 felt like one overflowing with the negative side of things for the Yankees (not that it should fully let management off the hook for the results). I covered the luckiest hits of the season last month, so now it’s time to take a look at their unluckiest outs.
I filtered all of the outs they made by expected batting average, with the caveat that they needed to be hard-hit, or have an exit velocity of at least 95 mph. Otherwise, there is likely a lot of soft-ish line drives that typically would get down, or have been eaten up by a shift. xBA is not a perfect stat, as it doesn’t account for spray angle or ballpark, but it’ll do the trick here. So, without further adieu, here are the five unluckiest outs made by the 2022 Yankees.
5. Oswald Peraza, 8/30/23 @ Tigers
Exit Velocity: 105.6
We kick things off with perhaps the most impressive defensive play of the bunch. Amidst Peraza’s mostly brutal 2023, the luck factor wasn’t doing him any favors either. Right-center field in Detroit is perhaps the worst place to smash a hard-hit ball into, and Peraza showed us just why. Tigers rookie Parker Meadows made a beeline for the ball, leapt, and caught the ball over his head to take extra bases away from Peraza.
4. Aaron Judge, 8/5/23 vs. Astros
Exit Velocity: 105.4
No modern Yankees list is complete without the presence of Aaron Judge. It would seem that a 174 wRC+ season would be filled with its fair share of good fortune (Dodger Stadium bullpen fence notwithstanding), but Judge got the short end of the stick on this 400-foot laser. This was just one of the 23 outs he made on balls hit at least 105 mph.
3. Kyle Higashioka, 5/3/23 vs. Guardians
Exit Velocity: 103.8
One of the dearly departed in the recent acquisition of Juan Soto and Trent Grisham, Higgy had probably his best big league season in 2023. But, that couldn’t come without a bad break here or there, as we saw in this early-season matchup with Cleveland. On a ball that, off the bat, looked like it might not clear the shortstop’s head by much, Steven Kwan made a lunging grab in left on a ball that seemingly refused to find the grass.
2. Gleyber Torres, 9/21/23 vs. Blue Jays
Exit Velocity: 94.6
I am taking the liberty of rounding up for this one, in order to include the defensive gem from George Springer. Much like Higgy before him, Gleyber Torres laced an outside fastball the other way, which looked to be destined for a hit, only to be met by a sliding, fully extended Springer. It was a great bounce-back season for Torres, but some poor fortune is inescapable for even the best.
1. Aaron Judge, 4/16/23 vs. Twins
Exit Velocity: 106.7
Speaking of the best, Aaron Judge tops our list! This may not be the most visually obvious one, but it ranks the highest nonetheless. As he so often does, Judge pounds a middle-middle fastball into right-center, but seems to fall victim to some good ol’ fashioned topspin
At roughly 107 mph and a 27 degree launch angle, a ball like this off the bat of Judge feels destined for great things. In fact, batted balls with those two figures have gone for a home run 94 percent of the time in the Statcast Era, while only being caught for an out eight other times. As incredible as he may be, even Aaron Judge often finds himself at the whim of luck.