Something was not quite right for the Yankees in July. After going 22-6 in June, they produced a mere 13-13 record in the month that followed.
On one hand, they suffered injuries to important players like Giancarlo Stanton and Michael King.
On the other, they brought in new signing Andrew Benintendi from Kansas City for a clutch of players from their farm system – Chandler Champlain (RHP), Beck Way (RHP), and T.J. Sikkema (LHP)
Let’s see who did most to at least keep them at .500 on the month:
|Matt Carpenter if/of||23||73||16||26||7||0||9||23||0||8||20||.356||.447||.822||1.269|
|DJ LeMahieu if||25||96||24||33||2||0||4||11||2||20||14||.344||.462||.490||.952|
|Aaron Judge of||25||93||25||31||5||0||13||32||5||17||31||.333||.446||.806||1.252|
|Isiah Kiner-Falefa ss||25||85||10||25||5||0||0||13||4||2||9||.294||.315||.353||.688|
|Gleyber Torres 2b||22||96||14||28||7||0||3||14||1||8||22||.292||.352||.458||.810|
|Aaron Hicks of||23||69||15||19||3||1||3||13||2||16||15||.275||.412||.478||.890|
|Kyle Higashioka c||12||30||4||8||0||0||1||4||0||4||8||.267||.343||.367||.710|
|Anthony Rizzo 1b||20||70||16||18||6||0||4||11||0||10||12||.257||.395||.514||.909|
|Tim Locastro of||4||12||2||3||0||0||1||2||2||0||2||.250||.308||.500||.808|
|Jose Trevino c||22||63||7||15||4||0||1||6||1||2||14||.238||.262||.349||.611|
|Josh Donaldson 3b/dh||23||82||11||16||4||0||3||13||1||3||27||.195||.230||.354||.584|
|Giancarlo Stanton dh/of||17||64||10||10||1||0||5||9||0||5||23||.156||.217||.406||.623|
|Joey Gallo of||19||45||8||6||0||1||3||6||1||11||21||.133||.304||.378||,682|
|Miguel Andujar lf/3b||2||8||3||1||0||0||0||1||0||1||1||.125||.222||.125||.347|
|Andrew Benintendi lf||4||10||1||1||0||0||0||2||1||6||1||.100||.412||.100||.512|
|Marwin Gonzalez if/of||14||23||1||2||0||0||0||1||2||3||9||.087||.222||.087||.309|
|Jonathan Loaisiga p||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000||.000||.000||.000|
|Clarke Schmidt p||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000||.000||.000||.000|
With Ben Rortvedt still coming back from injury and working through various rehab assignments, the burden of the catchers’ duties fell on Jose Trevino and Kyle Higashioka, for better or for worse.
Indeed, this month, whilst Trevino has clearly become the first choice catcher, it is Higashioka who has led the way in most statistical categories. His July .267 led Trevino’s .238. Trevino appeared in 22 games compared to Higashioka’s 12 and it was Trevino who had 5 extra base hits compared to Higashioka’s 1 (a homer), but Higashioka clearly benefits from having the burden of being the goto guy lifted from his shoulders.
The high point this month for Jose was being called up for the 2022 All-Star Game, an achievement which could not have been imagined when he crept onto the Yankees’ roster to fill a gap at the beginning of the year.
Anthony Rizzo remains the clear choice to play at the first base corner with DJ LeMahieu as second choice, although LeMahieu is seeing more time at second and third base as well. Rizzo produced 10 extra base hits (6 doubles and 4 home runs). It could be better for him, but it could be worse.
It was a smart bit of business, on the part of the Yankees giving up on their 2021 Gleyber Torres‘ shortstop experiment and returning him to second base. He matched Rizzo’s 10 extra base hits this month and exceeded his batting average, hitting .292 in July.
The new shortstop for 2022 was not the marquee name some expected, but Isiah Kiner-Falefa who was under the radar for many. His defense has steadily improved as a Yankee, coming closer to the level he set when he was with the Texas club. He is never going to make a power hitter, but his .294 batting average this month is comparable to what the Yankees were hoping for.
DJ LeMahieu gives the Yankees a first baseman, second baseman, and third baseman all rolled into one. He is capable of being first choice at any of those positions, but he does tend to wander between those roles. But, whereas he struggled in those changes in 2021, he has settled into the varied role with consummate ease this year. This month, he batted .344 and his OPS was third on the team behind the very surprising Matt Carpenter and the outstanding Aaron Judge who is capable of carryng the team.
Josh Donaldson at third base is taking up a considerable chunk fo the Yankees’ budget. He is receiving $23m this season. His age is against him defensively – he only has one way to go and offensively, he is no longer producing anything like MVP stats. This month he was one of four players who batted below the Mendoza line and his 7 extra base hits (3 homers) do little to improve the outlook.
Marwin Gonzalez has filled six defensive roles this season. This vital bench role means that he is surviving despite a July batting average of a mere .087 and no power hitting. He has still been a good addition to the roster but his August needs to be so much better.
As soon as you turn your attention to the Yankees’ outfieild, then the first name that springs to mind this year is always going to be Aaron Judge. The Yankees could not ask any more from him than they got in July. He gave them more extra base hits than anyone else on the roster with 18 (13 home runs) and he was second in the team in on-base percentage and slugging and his batting average of .333 was outstanding. He is the Yankees’ most consistent and outstanding player. Hey, he still has a reasonable chance of being the American League MVP.
Aaron Hicks has been a sub-standard, wreck of a player since the Yankees signed him to a ridiculously long contract back in 2019. At the moment, he is taking home $10.5m each season, and there is never a suggestion that he “earns” that in any given year. However, this month was better than most. He hit .275 with 7 extra base hits. He was fit and injury-free. Perhaps, he could turn a corner – but I’ve thought a dozen times before.
As we live in the days approaching the trading deadline, there is a far higher chance that the Yankees will move Joey Gallo than Hicks. Whilst his salary is very similar to Hicks’, he only has a one year contract, and he is just so bad, that there is a reasonable argument that his loss of form may be caused by the pressure of playing in the pinstripes. This month, he hit .133 with a 4 extra base hits and more than one strikeout for each game he played in. Some projects just don’t work out. Time to write Gallo down as one of those.
Now from the ridiculous to the sublime. When the Yankees signed Matt Carpenter, it didn’t cause many ripples on the major league pond.. He had spent a substantial career with the St. Louis Cardinals, but he had faded badly over the last three or four seasons. For 2022, he had to settle for a spot on the roster at Round Rock Express, a Triple-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers and was no longer defensively able. Most everybody had him filed under the list of players who were too hard-headed to retire, but for some reason the Yankees decided to fill a spot on the roster with him as they struggled with a few injuries. By the end of May, he was making a few indifferent performances at designated hitter. And then something near a miracle happened, Carpenter made some appearances in the outfield for the first time in his career, but more importantly he exploded with the bat. This meant that in July, he hit .356 with 16 extra base hits, led the Yankees in several offensive categories and if it wasn’t for comparison with Judge, he would have led in them all. Truly amazing and it looks like we’re heading to a fairytale end to Carpenter’s career.
Giancarlo Stanton struggled for most of the month and ended July on the injured list. The Yankees are keen to use Stanton as a semi-regular outfieler, but it doesn’t seem to be working out well. He’s a good player to have in the field but it does rather tend to increase the frequency of Stanton’s injuries. This month he batted .156 with six extra base hits. The trade off for having him in the field just doesn’t work out or balence up.
The bit players in the outfield are the familiar names of Tim Locastro and Miguel Andujar who are necessary fill-ins when others are injured but it is hard from the very small sample of appearances they’re given to know just how much they could contribute. Locastro is perhaps the better option as he contributes some speed on the basepaths.
Andrew Benintendi was the first of what will be surely be a number of players to arrive at the trading deadline. July will ensure that the Yankees panic at least a little. Benintendi has started very slowly but he is due to settle into the line-up.
Stanton still leads the team in terms of players used in this position, but Carpenter and Judge are also being used here. It will probably become much more Stanton’s territory again, when he returns from injury and the coaches try to protect his physical weaknesses.