It wasn’t too long ago that the world of baseball cast a confused skeptical eye on the Yankees.
It was before the start of 32-13, which led to a throng of haters. But an offseason without the acquisition of any superstars felt strange, especially when the Yankees could, theoretically, pick any of the available shortstops at the right price.
Instead, the increasingly frugal front office used the trading market to find their shortstop, with general manager Brian Cashman confirming that the team never made an offer to Carlos Correa. It has paid off more so far, as the Yankees ride a combination of improved infield defense and changed approaches at the plate to become a much more complete team than the talented but limited team they have in 2021.
We will never know how Correa, Corey Seeger, Trevor Story or Marcus Semien would have started their 2022 season had they signed with the Yankees. But through about 45 games with their new teams, some have done poorly in a way that would only make Cashman and his henchmen feel more sane about themselves.
The former Astros sent shockwaves through the league when he finished with the Twins, signing the biggest free-agent deal in Minnesota history. While Korea’s contract includes the option for him to leave after the season for an even bigger check, the Twins will take a playoff push with Korea for more than a year of watching the postseason from home.
Like many hitters swinging a newly deflated bat, the dead ball is probably part of the reason Korea’s slugging percentage has declined. In his first 32 games with the Twinkies (he missed a few times after hitting a pitch on his hand), Korea is scoring a single .400. No one expected this shortstop, whose career slowdown percentage is 77 points higher than that.
But Korea is still hitting .280 and reaching base at a .348 clip. While he has only two home runs, he also has 123 wRC+, which means he has been 23% more productive than the average hitter. The advanced defensive numbers don’t love the season they’ve put together yet, but they have a way of normalizing the entire 162-game schedule.
Most importantly, the Twins are winning. Entering Friday with a 4.5-game cushion in American League Central, the Twins have to feel good about the big risk they took on the megastar this winter in what could be a year-long rental.
That’s where the weirdness of defensive metrics starts to show in the early season. Above-average defensive runs by fangraphs are only three AL shortstops better than Seeger, whose corner field-type construction has led to comments about him moving away from shortstop over the years. Defense hasn’t been a glaring issue so far, but Caesar’s base percentage is.
He had some trouble finding holes in the grass field or safe patches in the outfield – Seeger’s .242 batting average on balls in play is well below his career clip and bound for some positive regressions – but the 28-year-old has also was not running. With every ball either going right on a fielder or trailing Seeger for a swinging strike, he sits at .298 on-base percentage.
Rangers can only wait patiently (and in some ways, know) that things will turn out, but currently, their $325 million shortstop has left some things to be desired.
The last two players on the list have moved to the right of the diamond since they changed teams. Story, Boston’s new second baseman, began his Red Sox career in a .194 slump. But in a recent four-game sweep against the Mariners, everything finally turned out well.
Kahani scored 13 runs in that series and scored five home runs. Baseball players talk all the time about how a few swings can be a magic wand that heals the rest of their season. Had this been the case for Story during his disfigurement of the Mariners, the Yankees might feel a little remorse for going on Story — at least on the offensive side of the ball — because their greatest adversary justified him for $140 million. substantially received.
Every team is feeling pretty happy about passing Semien right now.
By WRC+, the Rangers’ second banana to Caesar has been the worst qualified hitter in Major League Baseball. 41 wRC+, .181/.236/.241 slash line and 32 strikes to 12 walks make Semien a tough pill to swallow for Texas. A year after a blast of 45 home runs, Semien’s total so far is zero.
His ground balls are up, his line drives are down, and the Rangers are getting less output from him than Isiah Kiner-Falefa – the aggressively challenged shortstop that Texas traded to convert his infield. Has done – has given to the Yankees.