They may not be stars, but watch the bottom of the Yankee lineup
As of May 25th, the Yankees 7-9 hitters in the order have a higher slugging percentage (.418) than 10 other teams in Major League Baseball. To put this in perspective, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Washington Nationals, Milwaukee Brewers, Arizona Diamondbacks, St. Louis Cardinals, 1 through 9, have a lower slugging percentage than the Yankees’ bottom third of the order. These teams all have legitimate hope, for playoff baseball in October.
With a roster loaded with so much talent, it can be easy to overlook the grinders at the bottom of the batting order. They personify the resiliency that this team has displayed throughout the young season. The bottom of the Yankees lineup usually consists of some combination of the following players: INF Neil Walker, 3B Miguel Andujar, 2B/SS Gleyber Torres, C Austin Romine, and INF Ronald Torreyes. Most notably, the performances of Andujar, Torres, and Torreyes have been a pleasant surprise from a production standpoint. After navigating through the treacherous first six of the Yankees order, a pitcher hopes to experience a so called ‘break’ in facing the bottom three. This is not the case and the Yankees continue to make pitchers pay hitting the ball all over the yard in big win after big win.
Whether you want to believe it, the strength of the New York Yankees organization lies with the young and up-and-coming players. Through this youth, the team has developed an incredible amount of depth to support the big-league roster. The current plethora of youthful options is a result of not only good drafting but, also positive trades that were made during a mini-rebuild period. In 2016, the Yankees decided to be sellers at the trade deadline and tore down their bullpen dealing closer Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs and setup man Andrew Miller to the Cleveland Indians. The centerpiece of the Chapman trade was potential superstar Gleyber Torres.
The 21-year old usually bats ninth in the robust Yankees lineup. If you have not yet bought into the hype around this young talent, then it is time to flip the switch and realize the youthful skill that currently holds down the keystone for the team in the Bronx. The potential for stardom is obvious. Torres is athletic, fluid with his glove and has a smooth swing to along with a high baseball IQ. Quite simply, the kid looks to be a natural on the baseball field. All of his dynamic traits are easily translatable in the Major Leagues. He is a steady defender with a knack for making difficult plays on defense. He also has a composed approach at the plate with surprising pop. He is quickly showing the league his ability to hit the ball out of the yard with 9 homeruns in just 96 at-bats. Right now, he is doing this at the bottom of the order but, one day he will be getting on base and wreaking havoc in front of Stanton, Judge, and Sanchez.
Utility infielder Ronald Torreyes is the most undervalued piece on this Yankees roster. The versatile 23-year old provides Aaron Boone the freedom to rest all of his starting infielders at the most optimal time possible. He hits both lefties and righties equally well which makes him an extremely important piece to the puzzle. Not only is he versatile on defense, but he is consistent with above average range and the potential to be a great defender as he gains more experience at the highest level. Eventually I believe he will end up being a successful full-time second baseman at the big-league level. Although more known for his defensive prowess, this year he has slashed .339 BA / .349 OBP / .435 SLG while only playing one or two times a week in the 8-hole. Most mainstream media outlets do not appreciate the tools that he brings to the game. His presence as a grinder makes the Yankees depth to support the stars even more dangerous.
When Brandon Drury went to the disabled list with struggles coping with migraines, no one quite knew what to expect in terms of the value Miguel Andujar would provide to replace him at third base. Not only did the 23-year old fill in, he has provided the team with stability on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. For such an inexperienced player, Andujar has shown the composure to be able to make every different play at the hot corner. He has shown the ability to perform on the offensive side of the ball with gap-to-gap power that will one day translate to an increase in homeruns. This prospect has always been in the shadow of Gleyber Torres but he has proven to be a valuable contributor to the early success of the New York Yankees. Aaron Boone has deployed the same strategy with the young Miguel Andujar in hitting him at the bottom of the order and keeping the pressure off of him. My instinct tells me he may be involved in a mid-season deadline move while the Yankees try to acquire a dynamic star. I hope this does not happen as the grinders for the Yankees can no longer be ignored.