The New York Yankees of September were not the New York Yankees of August. From the 4th to the 10th of the month, they had a 7 game losing streak. However, later in the month (20th to 28th) they were to match this with a 7 game winning streak.
Inconsistency was their watchword.
This all meant that they only closed the gap on Tampa Bay by one game across the whole month and as the month came to an end, they were locked in a blockbuster situation with only three games to play. They still needed to head off Boston, Toronto and Seattle to earn one of the Wildcard places and this was going right down to the wire.
Most of the batters struggled. Some were pretty good…
Let’s see who led the way in August for the Bronx Bombers:
|Gleyber Torres ss/2b||25||89||14||26||4||0||3||9||2||8||19||.292||.351||.438||.789|
|Giancarlo Stanton dh/lf||25||98||11||28||3||0||10||25||0||6||28||.286||.324||.622||.946|
|Gio Urshela 3b/ss||23||78||10||22||1||0||3||7||0||2||20||.282||.300||.410||.710|
|DJ LeMahieu if||25||94||16||26||2||0||1||5||0||13||12||.277||.358||.330||.688|
|Brett Gardner cf/lf||25||85||9||22||6||1||4||13||1||9||19||.259||.330||.494||.824|
|Anthony Rizzo 1b||26||91||15||23||4||0||3||8||0||8||13||.253||.340||.396||.736|
|Aaron Judge rf/cf/dh||27||100||19||24||5||0||10||23||0||11||27||.240||310||.590||.900|
|Kyle Higashioka c||12||38||1||7||2||0||1||7||0||2||14||.184||.225||.316||.541|
|Andrew Velazquez ss||5||11||2||2||0||0||0||0||1||0||3||.182||.182||.182||.364|
|Gary Sanchez c||20||62||7||11||0||0||5||11||0||6||18||.177||.261||.419||.680|
|Joey Gallo lf/rf/dh||25||74||14||13||1||0||8||10||0||11||33||.176||.292||.514||.716|
|Luke Voit 1b/dh||18||41||4||7||1||0||3||6||0||5||14||.171||.292||.415||.707|
|Tyler Wade if/of||19||18||3||3||0||0||0||0||4||3||8||.167||.286||.167||.453|
|Rougned Odor 2b/3b||8||16||4||1||0||0||0||0||0||2||8||.063||.211||.063||.274|
|Aroldis Chapman p||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000||.000||.000||.000|
|Andrew Heaney p||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000||.000||.000||.000|
|Michael King p||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000||.000||.000||.000|
|Corey Kluber p||1||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||.000||.000||.000||.000|
|Lucas Luetge p||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000||.000||.000||.000|
|Jordan Montgomery p||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||.000||.000||.000||.000|
|Joely Rodriguez p||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000||.000||.000||.000|
|Clarke Schmidt p||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||1||.000||.500||.000||.500|
|Albert Abreu p||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000||.000||.000||.000|
|Estevan Florial cf||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000||.000||.000||.000|
|Chad Green p||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000||.000||.000||.000|
|Clay Holmes p||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000||.000||.000||.000|
|Wandy Peralta p||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000||.000||.000||.000|
|Name / Pos||G||AB||R||H||2B||3B||HR||RBI||SB||BB||K||BA||OBP||SLG||OPS|
The Yankees did not have a catcher who could reach the Mendoza line in the month of September. This surely means that as 2022 approaches, they must plan to bring in at least one new face in the catching staff and perhaps two. Kyle Higashioka continues to do well defensively but this month, he only gathered together 7 hits. The Yankees seem to be pairing him in the battery with more of the pitchers than before. He continues to be first choice when Gerrit Cole pitches but now he also pairs with Corey Kluber and sometimes Jordan Montgomery. Higashioka gathered 4 singles and 3 extra base hits.
Gary Sanchez made some notably appalling fielding plays and only hit .177. His only redeeming feature is the 5 in the home run column.
Both Higashioka and Sanchez are out of contract at the end of the season. Sanchez is costing the Yankees $6.35m at the moment, Higashioka a comparatively low $594,000. I know which one I would keep, if either.
At first base, the Yankees are preferring deadline signing Anthony Rizzo over Luke Voit. This choice was set in stone when on the last day of the month, Voit landed on injured list (again!). Neither Rizzo’s .253 batting average or Voit’s .171 was going to set the world alight. Rizzo’s was enough to raise his season average whilst Voit’s was his worst month of the season. Both hit 3 home runs but Rizzo was ahead in the doubles column. Voit mainly played in the designated hitter role.
Voit is arbitration-eligible but out-of-contract and with his injury problems has no real trade value. He was paid $4.7m for 2021. Rizzo is also out of contract. The Cubs took their option on him for 2021 but then traded him mid-season. His 2021 payments amounted to $14.5m. Again, their is a real question as to whether either of these guys should return to the Yankees but if either does Rizzo is the obvious choice.
In mid-September, the Yankees officially gave up on trying to convert Gleyber Torres into a shortstop – at least for 2021 and probably beyond. This unusual late season announcement saw him made the incumbent at second base for the rest of the season. This meant that DJ LeMahieu would become the regular third baseman, Gio Urshela would take over at second base and useful clutch hitter, Rougned Odor would be squeezed out.
This meant a burden was lifted off Torres’ shoulders and after the announcement was made by Aaron Boone on the 13th, Gleyber’s batting immediately started to improve. Consequently, during September, he led the team in batting average and he was second in OBP. Add to this a reasonable 7 extra base hits (3 homers in September, 6 in the earlier part of the season) and he has an opportunity to bounce back in 2022.
DJ LeMahieu hit .277 and led the team in on-base percentage (OBP) but he managed only 3 extra base hits. However, all the signs are that he bats more consistently when he has a regular day-to-day fielding position and is not used in a super-utility role. Urshela has also lost his power-stroke but is good defensively in whichever role they put him in. His major problem is the on-going issue of patience at the place – again, his walks are almost non-existent, just two on the month. Odor was very much reduced to a bench-warming role. His 16 at-bats produced only 1 hit and that came on the first day of the month.
Torres is out-of-contract at the end of the season and arbitration-eligible. He was paid $4m for 2021. LeMahieu is signed through 2026 and picked up $15m for 2021. He cannot be traded in 2022 because of a clause in his contract. Consequently, he makes sense for the Yankees to find a regular role for him, stabilise his batting performance, and to make best use of his considerable talents. Urshela was paid $4.65m for 2021 and is out-of-contract. Odor will be paid $12m for 2022 but his full wages are being paid by the Texas Rangers who designated him for assignment before he joined the Yankees. That is one of the strangest situations to be found in Major League Baseball.
Aside from Odor, the Yankees bench-infielders are Andrew Velazquez and Tyler Wade. Velazquez who played an important role in the dog-days of summer, was not so essential in September. He played in 5 games prior to being sent to Scranton on the 12th of the month. Still making best use of his defensive abilities, he hit only singles in his 11 at bats. Wade was extremely hot in August, cold in September. His OPS of 1.119 in August fell off to a mere .453, leaving only Velazquez, Odor and Estevan Florial behind him in that category.
Wade is being paid $603,300 and is contract is up at the end of the season. Velazquez who will also be out of contract is on the union-agreed minimum figure.
Brett Gardner had his second best month of the season offensively, hitting .259 with 11 extra base hits. This is slightly behind the average he hit in August but in September, he displayed more power. Aaron Judge didn’t hit as well in September as he had in August but he did manage to up his extra base-hits total up to 15 on the month whilst tieing Giancarlo Stanton for most homers in September in the process (10). Also impressive in the home run column was Joey Gallo with 8. He also challenged Stanton in one category – but this not so impressive. They were two players who had a very high percentage of their plate appearances result in strikeouts. Tyler Wade also saw a little time in the outfield. Estevan Florial was used as a defensive outfield substitution.
Gardner took a cut of over $7m to play for the Yankees in 2021. Both team and player have contractural options for 2022, but if the team declines and Gardner wishes to return, it will take him right down to a salary of $2.3m. Judge is arbitration-eligible for 2022 and has said he wishes to remain a Yankee for life. He picked up a nice $10.175 for 2021. Stanton will pick up $29m for 2022 and is under contract until 2027. The team has an option for 2028. Gallo has a similar status to Judge and received $6.2m for 2021. Florial is on the miniumum wage allowed.
Giancarlo Stanton, Luke Voit and Joey Gallo are the Yankees’ main options for DH and we have reviewed their situations above.
Position players who were injured in September
In addition to Voit who was injured at the end of the month, there were several position players who injured or rehabbing during the month. Here they are:
Miguel Andujar. Andujar was placed on the 60-day injured list with a wrist sprain. He spent the end of the season working back to health at Scranton. He earned $639,000 in 2021 on a one year contract. Multiple injuries for this infielder/outfielder places his future very up in the air.
Clint Frazier. Outfielder who went on the 10-day injured list in July. Despite a couple of attempted rehabs, the problem has escalated and he is now on the 60-day list. A primary difficulty has been in accurately diagnosing his problems – dizziness, vertigo, eyesight have been suggested and investigated. The Yankees and the player seem no closer to a solution. He received $2.1m for 2021 and is arbitration-eligible.
Aaron Hicks. Hicks saw little playing time in 2019 and 2020 and none in 2021. He has a left-wrist injury and is currently on the 60 day injury list. He is under contract through 2025 with a club option for 2026. He picked up $10.5m for this year and will do the same for 2022 whether he plays or not.
Former Diamondback, Tim Locastro is also on the 60-day IL and underwent surgery for an ACL tear in July. His timetable is unclear. His contract with the Yankees end in 2021, a season he was paid $589.100 for.