Aaron Judge was hot and untouchable in the first half of the season. Now either the opposition pitchers have caught up to him or something else is wrong. Fortunately, Gary Sanchez who was very much in his shadow before the All-Star break, has exploded offensively in the last month. The Yankees are clearly concerned about some defensive kinks he has behind the plate but it is thanks to him and guys like Didi Gregorius that the Yankees’ ship is still afloat and in a promising position to take the first wildcard spot -although they are looking increasingly less likely to catch Boston for the division lead.
|New York Yankees 2017 – Batting – Month – August|
Both Sanchez and Austin Romine will serve suspensions for their parts in the huge brawls that characterised the game against Detroit on the 24th of August. Sanchez has been doing great offensively but has made some fumbles behind the plate. Romine has not dominated at the plate but has been solid defensively. Romine hit .125 with only one extra base hit (a triple). Sanchez led the team in extra base hits, home runs and slugging. The Yankees acquired Eric Kratz from Cleveland in exchange for cash considerations and Kratz now looks like the most like guy to go to when the suspensions begin rather than Kyle Higashioka who struggled horribly at the plate in the Majors earlier in the season when called up.
The Yankees spent most of August still carrying a lot of infield injuries but that part of the team has begun to right itself as the month approached its end. Starlin Castro spent much of the month on the DL alongside longer term injuries like Greg Bird and Tyler Austin. All of sudden the Yankees were spoiled enough at first base that they sent the fit again Austin back to the minors as he seemed surplus to requirements although his time in the majors was going well. By the end of the month, Chase Headley had made 21 August appearances at first base having lost his role at the hot corner to Todd Frazier. Garrett Cooper made 5 appearances there. Greg Bird played there on 4 occasions with Austin only being used twice as the Yankees preferred to utilise him at DH. Cooper (.444 in August) and Austin (.294) both ended the month at Scranton (Triple-A). Headley, with .267 and 10 extra base hits, has made a successful transition but there is a huge question mark over his future with Bird (.333 and 2 homers in August in 6 games) the obvious man for the future if he can remain fit.
Ronald Torreyes always seems to blossom when he gets an extended run in the team and this month was no exception. He has speed, he has energy in the field and his monthly batting average was .321 although he carries little power. He returned to the bench when Castro was able to return from the disabled list. Tyler Wade who also saw a little time at shortstop and rightfield was originally intended to platoon with Torreyes whilst Castro wasn’t available but that arrangement was scrapped due to Wade’s flailing performance at the plate. Castro hit .320 during the 6 appearances he made after his reinstatement.
Didi Gregorius needs little back up either defensively or offensively at shortstop and continues to play out a great season. He hit .284 with 12 extra base hits in August despite slowing a little as the month went along.
Todd Frazier has not exactly set the world alight since joining the Yankees. At the Chicago White Sox, his batting average was poor but he did well for home runs. Since joining the Yankees, his average has not gained too much and he had only 4 homers in August. Torreyes and Headley took a little time at the third base corner but the Yankees clearly see it as Frazier’s job for the rest of the year. I can’t see that he is contributing enough to continue beyond that.
The Yankees had an embarrassment of riches in the outfield in July. That is no longer the situation in August. First, Clint Frazier stopped hitting (.136 in 5 games) and then he went to the DL. Aaron Judge didn’t have injury to blame for his fallen figures although some suggested his shoulder was barking. During the month he only batted .185 with 3 home runs. Aaron Hicks may have come back to the roster of available players but there was little sign he’d brought his bat with him. He hit a feeble .217 with 6 extra base hits in 20 outings.
Jacoby Ellsbury continued to struggle with .234 and 7 extra base hits in his now well-established role as the 4th outfielder. Brett Gardner was the best of an indifferent bunch, hitting .259 on the month.
With Matt Holliday absent for most of the month (3 games in the lineup), the DH role was divided between 10 other players. Of these the most significant name was Gary Sanchez, playing there whilst the team gave slightly more time to Romine in the catcher’s role as they tried to get Sanchez over his passed ball woes.