Do you remember when the New York Yankees were struggling out of the gate and were just a .500 team? It actually wasn’t too long ago.
Through action on April 20th, manager Aaron Boone‘s club owned a 9-9 record and were already 7.5 games out of first place thanks to a historically fast 17-2 start by the Boston Red Sox. But if we fast-forward to Tuesday, there’s now only one game separating them as they prepare for yet another head-to-head matchup.
Similar to how the Red Sox used that fast start to get to where they currently are, the Yankees have turned it on more recently. Here’s a perfect snapshot that captures how dominant they’ve been over the past couple weeks.
So, yea, they’ve been rolling quite a bit. What’s interesting, though, is that they’ve done this with both Greg Bird and Brandon Drury on the disabled list, while Neil Walker hasn’t done much of anything with his playing time (71 wRC+ in his last 38 plate appearances).
Slow Start, Quick Recovery
Andujar didn’t make the Yankees’ Opening Day roster despite an awfully impressive spring. However, it didn’t take long for him to reach the big leagues, as he made his MLB debut on April 1st.
The young third baseman struggled through his first seven games, posting an anemic .107/.133/.107 triple slash after 30 plate appearances, good for a -41 wRC+. It was easy to see he was just a little out of whack thanks to a 43.5% soft-hit rate and 17.4% hard-hit rate.
His eighth big-league game finally brought his first pair of extra-base hits (a double and triple) against the Detroit Tigers. And then, he suddenly became allergic to singles.
I don’t know about you, but that’s good company to be in.
Andujar’s bat has cooled somewhat over the past week or so — and he could be victim of the ensuing roster crunch Drury’s return will cause — but the 23-year-old has flashed his potential at the game’s highest level.
Over his most recent 80 plate appearances, that triple slash has improved to .333/.350/.628 with 16 extra-base hits (12 doubles, 1 triple, 3 home runs), 15 RBI, and 10 runs scored, which is all good for a 162 wRC+.
And as if he hadn’t already done so, his walk-off hit against the Cleveland Indians over the weekend definitely endeared himself to the home crowd.
All He Does Is Win
Gleyber Torres barely has any idea what it’s like to lose in the major leagues. He made his debut on April 22nd, meaning New York has lost just once since his promotion from Triple-A.
The 21-year-old second baseman has already accumulated 0.5 fWAR in just 56 plate appearances (15 games) thanks to a .327/.357/.500 line with 2 homers, 11 RBI, and 7 runs scored. Some statistics will need to normalize — like that .385 BABIP despite a 26.8% hard-hit rate (although his 31.7% line-drive rate is helpful) — but he’s provided quite a spark since getting the call.
Remember how Andujar’s ability to rack up extra-base hits associated him with names like Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio? Well, Torres saw that and didn’t want to be left out in the cold, I guess. He hit a walk-off homer Sunday to complete a sweep of the Indians, which led to this.
These kinds of statistics and facts don’t guarantee anything, but it can do plenty for the confidence of a young player, which can be rather fragile at the start of a big-league career.
Just when you think New York was already in a great spot with these young position players, they break out Domingo German on Sunday for an absolutely stellar first MLB start.
German was starting in Jordan Montgomery‘s rotation spot, who is expected to miss 6-8 weeks with an elbow flexor strain. Combining that performance with Montgomery’s projected absence seemingly gives German a chance to show what he’s capable of as a starting pitcher for the foreseeable future.
A Problem Everyone Wants
While getting so much production from these guys is great, it also makes the decision with regard to who stays and goes from the 25-man roster that much more difficult. Boone won’t feel good making those decisions when the time comes, but there isn’t a big-league manager on this planet that wouldn’t want his problem.
With the Yankees’ slow start and Boston’s incredibly fast one, it could’ve been easy for New York to dig themselves into an even deeper hole in the AL East with key players missing from their active roster. As mentioned before, Andujar, Torres, and German seeing eye-popping results now will surely help their confidence levels moving forward, but that’s not the only thing it does.
This also shows Boone and the rest of his coaching staff that if an injury happens, they don’t necessarily have to wonder how any of these players will react. Sure, their performance won’t always be this wonderful, but they’ve experienced success early enough that the potential added pressure of a late-season pennant race may not be as overwhelming. They got all the “firsts” out of the way and can just focus on producing results for here on out.
Nearly every MLB team was envious the Yankees’ position entering this season — they have a stacked roster, an equally stacked minor league system, and money to spend — but watching the contributions from their young players over this recent stretch of dominance likely takes all of those feelings up a notch.
That’s terrible for the opposition, but it’s fantastic for the Bronx Bombers.
About Matt Musico
Matt Musico currently manages Chin Music Baseball and contributes to The Sports Daily. His past work has been featured at numberFire, Yahoo! Sports and Bleacher Report. He’s also written a book about how to become a sports blogger. You can sign up for his email newsletter here.