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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Yankees need a lefty bat: Kyle Schwarber DH against righties.

Giancarlo Stanton adds to a Yankee batting order in 2018 in more than one way. Stanton is another righty batter in a righty dominant lineup led by Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez.

Yankee lefty batters in 2017 were about league average:
1Didi Gregorius10653425570201727NYYAL136731532708725170307731.287.318.478.796*6/HD
2Brett Gardner10459421682201733NYYAL15196157264637221228534235.264.350.428.778*78H/D
3Jacoby Ellsbury973567409201733NYYAL112659420439413635207223.264.348.402.750*8H/D
4Greg Bird841479170201724NYYAL482028702819042202200.190.288.422.710*3/HD

First baseman Greg Bird was injured most of the 2017 season but hit well in the 2017 tournament as he did in the 2015 wild card game, which the Yankees lost. In 57 tournament plate appearances (PA) Bird has three homers and .921 OPS. Ironically, in 2017 Bird hit much better against lefty pitchers:
vs RHP48138119162060620001635.168.275.370.64544220103.1778371
vs LHP2032284810380037.286.344.643.98718000102.263172159

Ellsbury is likely to be phased out. And despite initial talk about where Stanton will play, including DH, in 2018 what makes the most sense is for Stanton to remain a right fielder and for Judge to move to left. Stanton is the one who will be in an unfamiliar situation and he's never played left. Plus, Judge covers more ground and left in Yankee Stadium is much bigger than right. Forget about either spending much time at DH unless there's an injury.

2017 splits:
vs RHP129415390531152302270211947.295.325.523.848204510517.285112123
vs LHP7715514420384031710623.264.299.354.65351220206.2926876

vs RHP1435134468312622319512355794.283.367.473.840211343324.318115124
vs LHP83169148133141212001528.

Aaron Hicks, switch hitter:
vs RHP8123519239461101033753745.240.363.453.81687421300.25793118
vs LHP50126109153470519301422.312.389.514.90356410200.345113142

Among those three only switch hitter Hicks hit well against lefty pitchers but he was on the DL twice and had never hit that well overall in any previous season. So while Hicks may get ample consideration for playing center field along with Gardner, Hicks is not likely to be DH very often.

Well before there was any indication that Stanton might come to the Yankees I had been telling friends that it made sense for the Yankees to trade for Cub lefty batter Kyle Schwarber to be the Yankee DH in 2018.

Schwarber started 2017 so badly that he was sent to the minors. But he returned and rebounded and hit 30 home runs in only 422 at bats (AB). Here are his 2017 splits:

vs RHP121388340587513027511143116.221.317.497.814169650012.244107114
vs LHP6298829143138001634.171.306.341.64828000000.2447075

Schwarber can't hit lefties but he hits quite well against righties, who throw at least 70% of the pitches. With the Yankees best hitters being righty, they are likely to face a lot of righty pitchers. The Yankees need more balance in their lineup in order to put even more pressure on opposing pitchers to wear them down.

There are these added benefits:
1. Catcher Gary Sanchez takes most of the remaining DH games against lefty starting pitchers.
2. Sanchez gets ample rest and catches no more than about 120 games.
3. Schwarber, who had been a catcher and is now a weak left fielder, can be the Yankees emergency catcher, giving new Yankee manager Aaron Boone more latitude in using Sanchez as DH.

The Cubs would consider a reasonable offer, maybe young righty hitting outfielder Clint Frazier, who is now expendable with the addition of Stanton. Schwarber is a fielding liability for the Cubs and he only hits righties. But Schwarber would be a valuable asset for the 2018 Yankees.

What do you think?

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