Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across Major League Baseball. Each week, we send out questions to the most plugged-in New York Yankees fans, and fans across the country. Sign up here to join Reacts.
The Yankees’ anemic offense has been their downfall in June and today’s questions concern the team’s dismal monthlong stretch. The 7-6 win against the Mets was the June high water mark for runs in a game, as even in recent wins over Seattle, the offense has been relatively limited. First and foremost the absence of Aaron Judge looms largest, but there are a lot of other holes in this lineup that Judge can’t fill.
The bullpen has faltered of late but carries a 2.97 ERA on the season. The starting rotation, however, is at 4.24. We expected this with a depleted rotation from the jump, but the hope was the offense would at least somewhat pick up the slack. In June, that hasn’t happened. Right now, this doesn’t look like a team that can score runs in the playoffs against other teams’ best arms.
Yankees fans lay most of the blame for the lack of offense at the feet of the established starters who haven’t performed. Anthony Rizzo, after a blistering start, has a 19 wRC+ in the month of June. When a linchpin power bat becomes a veritable black hole, it’s difficult for an offense to do much.
Others haven’t been much better. DJ LeMahieu has an 87 wRC+ on the season, and his skyrocketing strikeout rate is an alarming and unexpected development. Last season saw him in the 93rd percentile for strikeout rate. This year? 24th percentile. His walk rate has dropped from the 92nd percentile to the 31st percentile. That’s seriously unprecedented for a hitter of LeMahieu’s caliber and resume.
The Rays’ division lead holds steady at 9.5 games nearing the halfway point of the season, a good time to take stock at the impending viability of a playoff spot. This team needs a spark if not a conflagration if it has any division aspirations — Yankees fans have seen how quickly a Wild Card playoff game can go awry. Even that may be putting the cart before the horse with the Orioles, Astros, Blue Jays, and Angels hotly contesting the Wild Card (and that’s saying nothing of the Rangers, who surprisingly lead Houston out west). It’s getting musical-chairs-dicey for a team with preseason designs on winning the AL East. Essentially, the second half has to look like the first half of last year for the division title to even be plausible.
Whispers have turned to full-blown clamoring for Oswald Peraza to relieve Anthony Volpe of starting shortstop duty. Volpe started play Thursday with a 75 wRC+ in a half-season’s worth of plate appearances with no peripherals showing anything encouraging.
The chicken parm revelation was cause for optimism, and so was the long ball Wednesday against the Mariners, but he’s still just 9-for-51 in June. The offense is lackluster as a whole and Yankees fans are making it crystal clear who they want at shortstop going forward.
Now, on to some poll results from fans league-wide:
Music City comes in as the runaway favorite for MLB’s next new city. I was a little surprised to see it lapping the field, but it’s already receiving a lot of expansion buzz anyway, though the league has said that expansion won’t happen anywhere until both the A’s and Rays’ stadium situations are resolved. Montreal is a deserving recipient, too, as many of their devoted fans remain clad in Expos gear since the team’s move to Washington 18 years ago. Sadly, the soon-to-be-abandoned Oakland only garnered three percent.
It’s a shame that the best team in baseball isn’t immune to the whims of its stingy owner. The ballpark remains in disrepair. Personally, my favorite non-baseball Tropicana Field moment was the kid getting his head stuck in the Wade Boggs statue.
Owner Stu Sternberg flat-out said, “I expect we will build a ballpark in Tampa Bay that will keep the Rays here for generations to come,” but in reality he doesn’t seem anywhere close to doing that. He very well could kick the can down the road for a few years and wait for something to materialize. The lease at the Trop doesn’t expire until 2027, so the Rays are most likely staying put for the immediate future.