The following is a guest post from Nate Herman.
The Yankees recent success hasn't been from their household names due to the influx of injuries the team has faced. Despite the fact that the Yankees’ injured roster may be better than their healthy roster, they are still managing to win games. A big part of the Yankees’ success has been from players who made their Yankee debut this year. Whether these players were acquired in the off-season, called up from the minors, or picked-up during the season, these players are showing that they deserve their current spots on the big league roster.
Experienced Big League Hitters:
During the off-season, the Yankees acquired DJ LeMahieu. LeMahieu won the batting title in 2016 when he was with the Rockies batting .348 (with 11 home runs, and 66 RBI's). LeMahieu can clearly hit in the majors. He has also always been an exceptional fielder. The Yankees saw this in LeMahieu and signed him to a 2 year, $24 million dollar deal. The Yankees probably planned for D.J. to be a bench player, but due to the injuries to Miguel Andujar, Troy Tulowitzki (and, of course Didi Gregorius), LeMahieu was forced into a starting role. LeMahieu fit into the power-heavy lineup with a contact approach. Through twenty-seven games, LeMahieu is batting .310, with two home runs, fifteen RBI's, and two stolen bases. LeMahieu gives Aaron Boone one more viable option to throw into the lineup at any given time.
Speaking of speed, the Yankees signed veteran outfielder Cameron Maybin in late April. Maybin, now in his 13th major league season, has proven to be a reliable outfielder who brings speed on the base paths. The signing of Maybin came after the injuries to Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks, Clint Frazier, and Aaron Judge. Through three games, Maybin is batting .375, with two RBI's. Though Maybin hasn't played many games, he is a quality Major Leaguer.
Along with their play on the field, LeMahieu and Maybin bring a veteran presence to a young Yankees roster, which can truly benefit the inexperienced players who have recently been called up.
The New Kids:
The Yankees came into the 2019 season thinking that Mike Ford, Gio Urshela, and Mike Tauchman would not be on the big league roster. However, due to the countless number of injuries, these players got a chance to show what they can bring at the big league level.
One of the big Yankee related debates over the off-season was who gets the starting job at first. Whichever player you preferred, I can almost guarantee that Mike Ford didn't even cross your mind. Well, about one month into the season, Mike Ford made his major league debut with the Yankees. Through seven games, Ford is batting .167 with a home run, and 2 RBI's. Though these stats don't look amazing, Ford has shown his sharp eye at the plate. Ford has walked seven times in eight games and continues to look more confident at the plate as he gains experience in the majors.
Staying in the infield, the Yankees called up Giovanny Urshela due to the injury of Miguel Andujar. Andujar had a great rookie season in 2018, but his major flaw is his fielding. In the absence of Andujar, Urshela has gotten many opportunities to showcase his defensive and offensive abilities. In twenty games, Urshela has put together a .351 average, hit one long ball, and knocked in six batters. These numbers are great, but the best part of Urshela's game is his defense at third. Urshela has shown his range and quick reflexes at the hot corner and possess a cannon of an arm. Urshela's two-way game has made the absence of Andujar less painful as he has proven to be effective at the major league level.
The last new young Yankee is outfielder I’ll discuss here is Mike Tauchman. Tauchman has shown his power in his first few weeks with the Yankees, but his most important quality is his ability to play anywhere in the outfield. Tauchman is another Yankee who Aaron Boone can feel confident throwing into the outfield at any time. The fact that the Yankees are so injured but still have the options that they have, is proof that the Yankees front office has done a great job in building depth for the Yankees. These young Yankees have surprised many people around baseball with their solid play and are a major part of the Yankees recent success.
A weakness that may have cut the Yankees 2018 season short was their starting rotation. The Yankees rotation didn't have the depth that the Red Sox, Astros, or Indians had. Therefore in the off-season, the Yankees went out and traded for James Paxton and signed Adam Ottavino. James Paxton, who was the ace for the Mariners, came to New York as the number two starter. Due to the injury of Luis Severino in spring training, Paxton became the ace of the rotation (at least until Severino comes back). Paxton started the year off shaky but has had three quality bounce back starts. In these three starts, Paxton has gone 2-0 with a 1.40 ERA, and thirty-two strikeouts. These performances showed Yankee fans why the Yankees traded for him. He truly is a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher.
Although the Yankees bullpen has not lived up to their expectations, Adam Ottavino has been a positive for New York and a nightmare to opposing hitters. Ottavino has posted a 2.51 ERA through 14.1 innings but has more importantly kept the Yankees lead late in games. A problem that the Yankees have had early in the season is not holding their leads. Ottavino has been a reliable set up man (in the absence of Dellin Betances) who usually comes in the seventh or eighth innings with the hopes of geting the ball to Aroldis Chapman. The Yankees really bolstered their rotation and bullpen with the trade for Paxton and signing of Ottavino. Both of these players have been a big part in the Yankees success.
These players, who've all made their Yankees debut in 2019, have really pleased Yankee fans and the Yankees’ organization. With many Yankees on the injured list, many baseball fans would have not expected the Yankees to be well over .500 in the early goings of the season. However, the impact of the players listed above has really shown why the Yankees believe in them. Who knows what the Yankees will be like when fully healthy (if that day ever comes), but because of the depth and talent they have on this team, things still seem bright.
Hopefully, this depth and talent lead to a deep postseason run for the Yankees and their first championship in ten years.