The Yankees form had taken a dip by the time the season reached August and the dog days. From a .281 batting average (BA) in the month of July, they fell to a team .240 in the eighth month and a 17-13 win/loss record. Part of this was due to under-performance (let’s all say Greg Bird together and shake our heads sadly). Part of this was due to injury (Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, although whether in Sanchez’s case that’s a blessing or a curse remains to be seen) but mostly it is down to over-performers coming down to earth. However, that tandem of wonder-rookies, Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar are still playing everyday and still showing great ability (at least offensively). Read on…
|New York Yankees 2018 – Batting – Month – August|
The aforementioned Sanchez had gone on the disabled list on 24th July and wouldn’t be ready to be reactivated until roster expansion day on the 1st of September His lack-lustre performances this year make it unclear whether his playing time this month would have been reduced anyway. One thing that his injury definitely did change was the amount of playing time available to 3rd choice catcher Kyle Higashioka. Other than for Sanchez’s injury, Higashioka may well have spent the whole month at Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The young catcher gave the impression a little while ago that he was seldom going to hit in the Majors but that if he did so it would probably be a home run. He changed that notion this month but perhaps not for the better. His 30 at-bats yielded 5 singles and a double and not a single round-tripper in sight. He does remain a solid defensive option. Austin Romine is also better defensively than offensively and this month his .231 BA at least included 3 home runs which leave him heading to a cumulative total that will exceed expectations and his previous seasons’ performances. This month he appeared in 23 games (including one as a pinch-hitter) and as usual when he is used more often his batting average does tail-off but frankly who is to say his .231 on the month isn’t much more than Sanchez would have achieved, given his recent struggles.
Only 2 players were used at first-base in the month of August. Greg Bird has resumed as first choice since returning from injury in mid-May. Second choice is Luke Voit who joined the team from St. Louis as a seemingly minor matter in the trade which saw the Yankees ship out struggling pitchers, Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos. But the times may well be a-changin’ as a well-known Nobel prize for literature winner once told us. Voit began his time as a Yankee at Scranton (Triple-A) but then was called up to the Bigs on the 2nd of August. He was used so little and achieved even less that he was returned to Scranton a mere 11 days later. But this is where Greg Bird’s own struggle came into play as his own batting average fell well below the Mendoza line. Voit was recalled on the 21st, ostensibly to pinch-hit or give Bird a breather. However, his form was such that over the last week of the month, he has become the Yankees’ first choice at first-base. Nothing too surprising there, considering that Bird has hit .122 on the month with 6 extra base hits, whilst Voit hit 4 homers in the last week of the month on his way to accumulating an August batting average of .333
Gleyber Torres spent much of the second half of the month covering for Didi Gregorius at shortstop. Gregorius went to the 10-day disabled list (DL) with a contusion on his right heel. This meant more playing time for Ronald Torreyes who had been recalled from the minors a week previous. Torreyes struggled a little at the plate, hitting only .219 with a couple of extra base hits although his solid defense and effervescent personality are always a plus. Fortunately, the Yankees also had Neil Walker to call upon and although Walker’s batting form generally has also cooled, he brought a little of the power which Torreyes was lacking with 6 homers in August.
Torres was slow to settle at shortstop in the majors, a position he had played in the minors, but this didn’t stop him still doing a good job offensively. Across his time at second and short, he hit .272 with 6 home runs. One of the many commendable features of his year and also of the season of the other rookie phenom, Miguel Andujar is the way they have been unphased by change. Gregorius’ injury could never have come at a good time, but he was on a hot streak when it did, having hit .303 in August before he had to be removed from the line-up.
Andujar was in the line-up every day although he was used at DH on a few occasions and was spelled by Walker. He led the team amongst regulars in batting average and also in homers whilst being second to Giancarlo Stanton in extra base hits 17 to 18. His defense can use some improvement on occasions but he is delivering pretty much everything the team could ask of him.
Tyler Wade spent all of two days in the majors, at the beginning of the month, but didn’t see any game action.
With Aaron Judge, Jacoby Ellsbury and Clint Frazier all unavailable, the Yankees were a little stretched for outfield cover. In addition, Giancarlo Stanton was carrying a niggling hamstring problem which meant he was better suited to DH duties than rightfield as he bravely fought to avoid joining his colleagues on the DL.
One unexpected factor was Shane Robinson, who had played a little in April and was recalled in late July. He was to play a far more significant role in August, being the most used player in rightfield whilst also seeing a little time at the other two outfield positions. His solid defense and versatility was very much an asset, but the extended playing time only served to show up his shortcomings at the plate. He hit only .098 in August with only one extra base hit, leading to the Yankees experimenting with Neil Walker at the right-field wall, who did adequately while adding another item to his resume.
Leftfield, as expected, was Brett Gardner who also played one game in centre. Gardner is struggling offensively and hit only .209 in August, but his 9 extra base hits were welcome.
Aaron Hicks continued to be resident in centre-field and hit an acceptable .243 BA on the month whilst adding another 6 home runs to his total for the season.
Because of his nagging injury, Giancarlo Stanton spent more time than normal in the DH role and only 9 games in right-field. In the circumstances, his .267 BA with 9 doubles and 9 homers might be regarded as commendable. Andujar, Voit and Hicks were used at DH when Stanton was playing in the field.