The 2019 New York Yankees: Part 1 – Identifying Weaknesses


Note: This is part one of a five-part series on the New York Yankees and what we think they should do during the 2018-2019 offseason to better the team.  This series will take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the team and identify the options the Yankees have internally and externally through trades and free agency.

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Despite a 100-win regular season for New York, the Yankees still find themselves heading into the offseason with some glaring weaknesses and holes across the roster. Most of these weaknesses reared their ugly head in the 2018 postseason, specifically in the American League Division Series against the Boston Red Sox. This is not to say that the regular season was not riddled with some of the team’s pitfalls, but on the biggest stage in the postseason is where they became readily apparent. From failing to hit with runners in scoring position, to sub-par production from the starting rotation, to some of their defensive woes, the Yankees have some problems that need fixing.

New York Yankees’ Giancarlo Stanton walks away after striking out during the seventh inning against the Boston Red Sox in Game 1 of a baseball American League Division Series on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Hitting with Runners in Scoring Position

This was a problem not just in the regular season, but in the postseason as well. Because the Yankees rely so heavily on the extra-base hit, they seemed at times to lose the ability to get a big base hit with runners in scoring position. The Yankees in 2018 were 12th in average with runners in scoring position (RISP) with a tally of .253, which was right at the league average. Both the Astros and the Red Sox were atop the leaderboards in AVG w/RISP. The Red Sox were first with .289, and the Astros were second with a .285 clip.

In the postseason as you would imagine against better pitching, things got worse. The Bronx Bombers hit a dismal .154 (4-26) with RISP while the Red Sox hit .370 and the Astros hit .294. It’s nearly impossible to win a postseason series when you do not hit with runners in scoring position.

New York Yankees starting pitcher J.A. Happ throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Starting Pitching

Starting pitching has been a mystery for the New York Yankees for years now. They have not had a true ace since CC Sabathia was from 2009-2012. The Yankees are now in a position where having a solid rotation is the biggest missing link that stands in the way of having World Championship return to the Bronx.  The Yankees sported the 10th best team ERA at 3.78 for the 2018 regular season and posted an abysmal 5.83 ERA in the postseason. The starting pitching in the playoffs had an ERA above ten.

The Yankees have a lot of great young talent on the offensive side of the ball, so the starting pitching is going to be an area of focus for this offseason. Sonny Gray’s dreadful performance since donning pinstripes, coupled with what could have been another solid campaign by southpaw Jordan Montgomery was cut short by Tommy John surgery. Whether they decide to spend big on somebody like Patrick Corbin or Clayton Kershaw or attempt to find value on the trade market, the Yankees need to find a way to put out a championship-caliber starting rotation that has been absent in recent years.

New York Yankees’ Miguel Andujar reacts after his three-run home run off Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Jaime Schultz during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

Defense

The Yankees were one of the worst defensive teams in baseball in 2018, as their DEF rating was -14.7, placing them 24th out of the 30 Major League teams.  Much of the poor defensive play came from Miguel Andujar at third base. As a team, New York was ranked 28th in DEF rating at second base and 29th at third base. Miguel Andujar was by far the worst defensive third baseman in baseball, and Gleyber Torres found some struggles with a new position at second base.

Shortstop and the outfield positions are all defensed rather well, but the rest of the infield needs to be rounded out in order to sure up the defense. As great as it is to have Miguel Andujar in the lineup every day, he is a complete liability in the field. Furthermore, this was even recognized by the Yankees organization themselves as Andujar was left sitting on the bench during the most important moments this postseason.