Welcome to the New York Yankees 2022 season folks! If you’ve missed the first 5 games of the season, just re-watch the last 5 games of the 2021 season, you won’t be able to tell the difference. Do you know why? Because this 2022 New York Yankees lineup is just as flawed as it was last year. Which really poses the question, does Brian Cashman hate Yankees fans?
The first critical flaw of the 2022 team that needs to be addressed is baserunning. We saw Phil Nevin get fired last season for his atrocious ability to assess whether a runner could cross home plate safely or get thrown out by at least four steps. Based on what we saw in game 5 of the season, Luis Rojas doesn’t seem like he’ll be doing a much better job.
In the second game of the Toronto Blue Jays series, we saw Josh Donaldson get thrown out at home plate in the first inning. Donaldson went from first base to third base on a double by Anthony Rizzo. Instead of holding at third with only one out, Donaldson stopped, losing all of his momentum, then tried to make a dash for home plate. To anyone watching, it was clear Donaldson was never going to make home safely, scoring a run. I don’t know who to blame on this one. Maybe Josh Donaldson acted alone and made the decision by himself. Maybe Luis Rojas, the new third base coach and former manager of the Mets sent Donaldson. Not knowing who to blame, I choose to blame both. I didn’t want Donaldson on this team and I don’t want a failed Mets manager coaching third base. I don’t trust discarded former Mets, players or managers. Discarded former Mets do not belong on the Yankees. Is it really so hard to find a third base coach with a good feel for the game? We’ve had excellent third base coaches in the past like Willie Randolph and Larry Bowa, why is it so hard to find another top notch third base coach? Cashman, I’m asking you this question directly.
The second critical flaw of this team is their inability to hit with Runners in Scoring Position. This has been a flaw of this team for several years. The lineup is filled with high strikeout hitters who aren’t going to put the ball in play. Constructing a lineup filled with high strikeout hitters prevents the ability to move runners from base to base. Sac flies aren’t ideal but they are better than strikeouts. Fielder’s Choice plays aren’t ideal but they are better than strikeouts.
Five games into the season and the Yankees are hitting just .176 with runners in scoring position, 6 for 34. We’ve watched the Yankees live and die, mostly die, by walks and home runs since 2017, it’s really time for a change in that philosophy. The Yankees aren’t going to win a lot of games only hitting .176 with RISP.
Who do we blame for this? My first choice is Joey Gallo. I think most, if not all, Yankees fans agree with me when I say I can’t stand the sight of Joey Gallo. He is everything I despise about the way Cashman constructed the Yankees. Nearly every at bat is a strikeout with an occasional walk or home run sprinkled in. To be fair, Gallo is 0 for 2 with RISP so far this season, the .176 RISP team average can’t be entirely pinned on Gallo. I think what drives Yankees fans so crazy about Gallo is what he stands for, a Cashman analytics darling that isn’t going to hit when we need him to hit.
Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks, and Gleyber Torres have the next most at bats with RISP. Giancarlo Stanton is 1 for 6 with a .167 average, which is below the team average but significantly higher than Joey Gallo.
Gleyber Torres is 0 for 4 with RISP but I have hope for Torres this season. He looks more comfortable at the plate than he has for the past 2 seasons. If Torres can get his confidence back, he might be on the verge of another 2019-like season.
Aaron Hicks is an enigma. Aaron Hicks of 2017-2018 was one of the most underrated players in baseball. He has drawn the ire of Yankees fans for being hurt in 2019 and 2021 (he did play the majority of the 2020 covid shortened season). What do we expect from Hicks this season? Can he regain his 2017-2018 form? I actually have some hope for Aaron Hicks, he is 1 for 4 with RISP so far this season which makes him the second most clutch hitter on the 2022 Yankees after Anthony Rizzo.
If Hicks can bounce back and again flash the talent we saw in 2017-2018, then there is a real case that Joey Gallo becomes the odd man out in the battle of 10 players for 9 lineup spots. Aaron Hicks is a switch hitter which negates the argument that Joey Gallo needs to be in the lineup because he is left handed. An outfield of Stanton, Hicks, Judge and an infield/DH of LeMahieu, Kiner-Falefa, Torres, Rizzo, & Donaldson is more appealing than seeing Joey Gallo striking out in nearly every at bat.
One last thing worth mentioning regarding Joey Gallo, does anyone follow the Yankees on TikTok? My gawd Joey Gallo is hard to listen to. If you haven’t seen the videos, take my word for it, no one is going to be extending Joey Gallo an invitation to Mensa anytime soon. The guy seems to be as sharp as a dull spoon.
Lastly and this will get its own column soon enough. No booing Aaron Judge, it’s not going to help anyone. I know you are mad at Aaron Judge for turning down the 7 year extension he was offered. I’m mad too but booing him isn’t the answer. It is hard for Yankees fans to understand how he could possibly turn down $30.5mil a year for 7 years to play for the Yankees because we would play for the Yankees for any amount for any time range but we can’t go at him yet. Let’s try to ensure he still feels loved. A good ole Bronx cheer when he struggles isn’t going to convince him to stay with the Yankees, let’s give him a pass for the time being.