The New York Yankees in August – Part One – The Batters (2021)

The New York Yankees had a 21-8 record on the month in August. It seems odd therefore, given that this was far and away their strongest month of the season, that I remain unconvinced about their potential to reach the post-season

On one hand, the vast majority of those wins came in consecutive games, when the momentum and positivity was spinning out of control. On the other hand, once that winning sequence was broken, they lost the four remaining games of the month – against the Oakland Athletics (a potential challenger for the New York team for a wild card spot) and against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim who went into their series with the Yankees below .500 on the season.

It is an interesting conundrum and it will be very interesting to see what September brings. Boston have remained in contention. Toronto are fast improving. Oakland will need to sort out some of their issues but could still challenge for a wild card spot and Seattle have also come into the reckoning.

The Yankees would need to maintain something like their August record to challenge the Tampa Bay Rays for the AL East division lead, which, frankly, I can’t see happening. This means that any two of five could capture the wild card route to the playoffs. The Yankees of August could do it. The Yankees of July will not.

Let’s see what happened in August-

Beginning with the offensive line-up:

NameGABRH2B3BHRRBISBBBKBAOBPSLGOPS
Tyler Wade if/of193510164003769.457.548.5711.119
Gleyber Torres ss/2b8284114005213.393.387.536.923
Aaron Judge rf/cf2911018396082641633.355.430.6271.057
Giancarlo Stanton dh/of289818324092501122.327.402.6431.045
Luke Voit 1b/dh2164918305180524.281.352.563.915
Brett Gardner of25651018112821314.277.400.415.815
DJ LeMahieu if2811620317121301415.261.351.397.748
Greg Allen of24110000001.250.400.250.650
Andrew Velazquez ss215391341163118.245.259.415.674
Anthony Rizzo 1B18671114302102413.209.276.343.619
Gary Sanchez c144871020150412.208.269.313.582
Rob Brantly c/1b25010000001.200.333.200.533
Kyle Higashioka c155279303100413.173.228.404.632
Joey Gallo of289617156051102348.156.319.375.694
Rougned Odor 2b/3b268291220560827.146.255.280.535
Gio Urshela 3b621021000006.095.095.143.238
Jonathan Davis of1217410000015.059.111.059.170
Albert Abreu p10000000000.000.000.000.000
Zack Britton p10000000000.000.000.000.000
Estevan Florial cf10000000000.000.000.000.000
Chad Green p10000000000.000.000.000.000
Andrew Heaney p11000000001.000.000.000.000
Jonathan Loaisiga p10000000000.000.000.000.000
Clay Holmes p20000000000.000.000.000.000
Jordan Montgomery p23000000003.000.000.000.000
Wandy Peralta p20000000000.000.000.000.000
Joely Rodriguez p20000000000.000.000.000.000
Aroldis Chapman p30000000000.000.000.000.000
Name/PosGABRH2B3BHRRBISBBBKBAOBPSLGOPS
New York Yankees – Batters in July 2021 in order of batting average

Catchers

The Yankees used three catchers in August. Gary Sanchez was unavailable from the 5th to the 15th. This meant that Kyle Higashioka became the first choice behind the plate and Rob Brantly was called up from Scranton / Wilkes-Barre Railriders to cover the gap. Brantly only appeared in two games and gathered only 1 hit in 5 at-bats. Higashioka managed two hits in the period that Sanchez was unavailable and four once he returned. He doesn’t seem to handle the pressure of being the principal catcher well. The other thing he continues to not do well is hitting to get on-base. He is much better at hitting those doubles and home runs than he is at hitting singles. He hit twice as many extra base hits as one-baggers. Sanchez, offensively, was just as bad before the time of his absence and afterwards. He managed only 10 hits in 48 at-bats (.208 batting average on the month). One of Sanchez’s strong suits has always been his power-hitting but this month he only contributed three extra base hits and his defence has not become any stronger.

Infielders

The acquisition of Anthony Rizzo and the way that Luke Voit was shopped around by the Yankees riled Voit. The reality was that Luke had become undependable because of his injuries and so the Yankees needed to do something. However, after Rizzo was signed, Voit did bounce back. On every level, August was his best month of the season and his annoyance at how he perceived he had been treated seemed to be part of his increased energy. He also hasn’t suffered any further injuries which won’t have hurt (no pun intended). A .281 batting average with 8 extra base hits led to a .915 OPS after he became available again on the 8th of August. Anthony Rizzo’s .619 OPS is, obviously, significantly lower. Voit was often shifted to the designated hitter role in the starting line-up to accomodate both players. Voit’s power stroke wasn’t all that it was in 2020 but he is improving in that way too.

DJ LeMahieu spent much more time in the second base role than he had in previous months. Gio Urshela was out of the line-up until the 26th of the month but Rougned Odor was experimented with at the 3rd base spot that Urshela would normally fill – a spot in the line-up in which he had little or no experience. Odor really struggled although he still produced a handful of clutch hits. LeMahieu’s month was fairly typical of his season overall. He started the month on a season .266 batting average and finished it on with a season .266 batting average. He led the team in doubles in August. He has not been the player with the bat that he has been over the last few seasons but he is still ahead of most of the other players who are making up the Yankees’ infield squad.

Shortstop was an interesting spot in the line-up. Gleyber Torres sprained the thumb on his left-hand and became unavailable on the 9th of August and was not ready to go on a rehab assignment until the last day of the month. Torres’ .393 batting average and .923 OPS showthat he was doing exceptionally well prior to his injury. The Yankees called up Andrew Velazquez, who had previously played with Cleveland, Tampa Bay and Baltimore. As a Bronx native, who upon call-up moved in with his mother in the vicinity of the Stadium, he quickly became a fan favourite. He is defensively stronger than Torres and an adequate offensive player, and took his opportunity with both hands. It is like watching Andy Stankiewicz all over again. His .245 batting average with 6 extra-base hits is unlikely to make him a long-term regular in the Yankees line-up but there is no reason to think that Torres is that either.

Outfielders

Aaron Judge remains the pick of the Yankees’ outfield and the way he has bounced back from his injury problems which has hindered him in previous seasons makes him so valuable. He not only led the regular Yankees in batting average and OPS but also led the team in extra base hits and was second to LeMahieu in doubles and second to Stanton in homers. With the need to make some space in the outfield positions for Joey Gallo, Brett Gardner and with Giancarlo Stanton being risked in the outfield as well as in the designated hitter spot for the first time in quite a while, it meant that the Yankees decided to tryout Judge in centerfield some of the time – which was a decision that worked out well. Gallo had a weak month but both Gardner and Stanton were improved by their new roles. Stanton was defensively strong as he always has been and importantly their seemed to be no sign of any tweaks, twinges or injuries. He led the team in home runs (as previously mentioned) and was second to Judge in extra base hits.

The Yankees used three additional outfielders – Greg Allen, Jonathan Davis and Tyler Wade. Allen played so well in July and it is difficult to see why the Yankees would choose to recall Davis before him this month. Davis is half the batter that Allen is, he is weaker defensively and not likely to steal a base.

Tyler Wade suddenly began to have a breakout as a Yankee – just as it looked like it was never going to happen. Whilst he was only given 35 at bats, he led the team (across all players) in batting average, stolen bases and OPS. The Yankees seem to be making every effort to find a spot for Gardner but Wade who can play infield and outfield is not been given the same opportunities – which it seems he should be offered – at least until this hot streak runs out.

Designated Hitter

Luke Voit and Giancarlo Stanton were the players most often selected at designated hitter in August and we have already commented on their performances in the section above.

Best batters in August 2021, 1 to 5 (L to R) Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton,
Luke Voit, Andrew Velazquez, Tyler Wade

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