Saturday, March 25, 2023

After Aaron Judge, Yankees Outfield With Aaron Hicks, Joy Gallo Becomes A Real Concern

After Aaron Judge, Yankees Outfield With Aaron Hicks, Joy Gallo Becomes A Real Concern

scheduled tribe. Petersburg – The Yankees have a giant in the outfield. Aaron Judge is committing the offense, scoring 18 home runs. He has been the force behind the Bombers’ American League-best 33–15 record, most notably with Giancarlo Stanton due to an ankle problem.

But the Bombers also have some big concerns in the outfield.

Over the weekend, center fielder Aaron Hicks was essentially benched after missing two days with a right hamstring tightness. In addition, left fielder Joy Gallo was dropped to the No. 9 spot in the lineup for the first time since 2017.

They don’t have a lot of options internally. Miguel Andujar has shown he can handle left field defensively and the Yankees can hope to rediscover the swing that made him the 2018 Rookie of the Year candidate with more regular batting. Estevan Florial continues to struggle with plate discipline in the minors. Tim Locastro and Ander Incierte provide solid defense but don’t add to the lineup.

The Yankees have already conceded a few offenses this season to improve their defensive backbone. He’s getting the least amount of aggressive results on the catcher and shortstop, so he’s relying on production from other places – especially from the outfield.

In 41 games, Hicks is batting at .200./.326/.233 with .560 ops, one homer and seven RBIs. He has been dismissed 33 times and has scored 21 runs in 145 plate appearances. Hicks is 32% below the MLB average in league and park factoring in Ops.

While Yankees manager Aaron Boone was adamant that Hicks didn’t allow his struggles to extend to the outfield on the offensive, there have been some noticeable mistakes and his -5 defensive run saved rating. Boone said he was caught by some “bad reading” of the ball with the bat.

The Yankees hoped that Hicks would be able to return from injury for most of the 2019 and 2021 seasons. As of now, he’s struggling to find 27-homer form since 2018, in which the Bombers gave him a seven-year, $70 million extension.

“He will continue to work to achieve that quality of contact,” Boone said of Hicks over the weekend. “He’s still doing a great job of controlling the area. He’s been gaining some traction there for a few days, so we have to continue working with him and hopefully get to the point where he really starts to swing like we know he’s clearly capable of with his ability to move.”

The ability to get to base was one thing the Yankees really liked about Gallo when he traded prospects like Glenn Otto, who is already in the Rangers rotation, to get the lefty-hitting slugger last year.

It hasn’t worked out the way the Yankees analytics department put it on paper.

Gallo is not only hitting a disappointing .167, he’s also hitting .270. Gallo walked 17 times in 137 plate appearances and struck out 52 strikes this season. An awkward hitter, Gallo’s all homers and RBIs came during a 17-game stretch from April 23 to May 15. Then he went on COVID IL and missed five games.

But it’s not just this season that has made Gallo look like a misfit in the Yankees lineup. His .162 average is the lowest among 159 players with 300 plate appearances since his arrival last July 30. His .570 ops is 33% less than the average major league outfielder with league and park adjustments.

“Joey’s going to strike multiple times,” Boone said. “Hopefully, he’ll be back in where he was gaining some traction after missing a few days with the illness.”

But when Gallo has attacked from the Yankees, it has escalated, especially when he was hitting fifth or sixth. He was brought in as some lefty lineup safety for the likes of Judge and Stanton. Now, Boone is just trying to take the pressure off the bottom of the lineup and push it forward.


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