2019 was a year full of surprises for the Yankees. It was a team that won 103 games, and was two wins away from reaching the World Series. At certain points, that would have been very hard to believe, as crushing injuries left the team short-handed for significant portions of the season. But many of those who stepped in delivered well beyond expectations, Mike Tauchman being an excellent example of just that. In a campaign that was defined by filling holes and players performing out of nowhere, Tauchman embodied much of this team’s spirit.
2019 Statistics: 87 games, 296 plate appearances, .277/.361/.504, 13 home runs, 47 RBI, 128 wRC+, 2.8 fWAR
The left-handed outfielder was acquired in a trade with the Rockies just before the start of the season, in what was a fairly low-key deal. Up until that point, he had only accrued 69 big league plate appearances, and hadn’t made them count, considering his 18 wRC+ with Colorado. Tauchman made the Opening Day roster, but a prominent role for him was understandably not the initial plan. Four different outfielders were placed on the injured list before the end of April, though, so Tauchman quickly carved out a spot.
His April performance was mostly forgettable, even though he was able to get some playing time. May was better, but he tallied just 44 at-bats between May and June, a stretch that was better than his time in Colorado, but still not quite anything to write home about. Once the calendar turned to July, however, he truly saw an increased opportunity, and made the absolute most of it.
He became a different player in those summer months, with some greatly increased power and a career-best ability to get on base. From the beginning of July to the end of the season, Tauchman slashed .325/.402/.584 and hit nine homers in just 48 games, good for a 160 wRC+. This included a two-series stretch where the lefty was red hot, hitting five long balls in Baltimore and Toronto.
All told, Tauchman hit 13 home runs and put up an impressive 128 wRC+ over the course of the season. And although he only played in 87 games, he was nearly a three-win player. That is legitimate, All-Star caliber play. For a team that lost so much time from its best players, Tauchman’s performance meant a lot in getting the Yankees the second-best record in the American League.
One wouldn’t guess that a 103-win team would also set the record for most injured players in a single season, but that was the 2019 Yankees. It was a pieced together group, made up of deals that worked out perfectly as well as huge surprises. Guys like DJ LeMahieu and Gio Urshela (who have been detailed in this very series) made Brian Cashman look like a genius, while the Mike Tauchmans of the world stepped up and put up performances that no one could’ve seen coming. For a team that was without Aaron Judge for 60 games, and Giancarlo Stanton for all but 18 games, having a player like Mike Tauchman step up the way that he did was vital.
Tauchman only appeared in about a half season’s worth of games in 2019, but he certainly made it worthwhile. He played like an All-Star, in the absence of so many of the Yankees’ starters. Although he hasn’t found much success outside of the occasional big moment since then, Mike Tauchman’s performance will stand as a representation of how good the 2019 Yankees were under such difficult circumstances.