If you were to ask Yankees fans how the team was doing, even considering Friday’s victory over the Tigers, I’m sure the response would be less than enthusiastic. The relief pitching has been awful, key players have been injured, and Giancarlo Stanton has yet to truly heat up. Yet if you consider the offense, which pertains to those points on injuries and Stanton, they are actually performing in the top tier in the league. Here is where they rank among the major offensive categories:
- HR: 7th
- BB%: 6th
- K%: 20th
- OPS: 6th
- wRC+: 7th
I don’t know how you could complain! Sure, the offense is really expected to be more like top-three or top-five, but it’s darn close considering the stumbling. I suppose the struggles become more clear when you consider the distribution of performance (minimum 30 PA) in wRC+:
- 197 - Didi Gregorius
- 193 - Aaron Judge
- 143 - Tyler Austin
- 122 - Brett Gardner
- 113 - Giancarlo Stanton
- 46 - Gary Sanchez
- 30 - Neil Walker
- 9 - Miguel Andujar
- -9 - Tyler Wade
The good news is that we’re literally just two weeks into the season. With Brandon Drury and Clint Frazier on the disabled list, and with Gleyber Torres still a few days away, and with the very recent return of Aaron Hicks, there is a good chance that there is not only positive regression, but that reinforcements by way of depth will provide a higher floor. Which is why when you show what the lineup would look like using Steamer’s updated end-of-year projections, it’s still quite formidable, if conservative:
Does anyone really think Judge is only a 134 wRC+ hitter? No. Does anyone think Sanchez is just a 108 wRC+? Likely no as well. So if we take our intuitive knowledge about what we see, and the roundabout projections that do make sense for all of the other players with a longer track record, we see a top-five offense in baseball.
Statcast also agrees with this estimation. Not only do they have the seventh-highest average exit velocity in the league, nearly one quarter (23.3%) of their batted balls are solid contact or better:
This should be pretty reassuring, and that’s because even though the Yankees are only 7-7, that is largely because of three blown leads in tight games, interspersed with games where they scored seven or more runs six times. That would usually guarantee you something like eight or nine wins any other time, but instead they dropped six of those eight remaining games.
So while the Yankees have had real, genuine issues, the offense isn’t one of them. Just the sheer sequencing of their offense probably cost them a win or two, so assuming a neutral environment they will likely “appear” to be more consistent. If the bullpen finally comes around, they may coalesce with an offense that is just starting to living up to its billing.