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Coles: Stanton and Judge ailments open door for Frazier, Andujar

The injury to Stanton could give Clint Frazier a true shot to be a starting outfielder for the Yankees. (Robert M Pimpsner/Pinstriped Prospects)

An MRI on Wednesday revealed a grade 1 calf strain for Giancarlo Stanton. At this point, the Yankees are no stranger to Giancarlo’s ailments considering he played in just 18 games last season. But the hope was that those days were behind the $300 million former MVP, but it seems not much has changed.

This, without a doubt, stings as Stanton seemed poised to have a clean bounce-back season. FanGraphs’ Steamer Projections have Stanton playing in 134 games and hitting 47 home runs while driving in 111 runs. On top of that, the model has him pinned for a .385 wOBA and a 143 wRC+. But with an injury for Stanton that seems to never go away, it’s become hard to trust that he can actually stay on the field and put up those gaudy numbers. It’s also worth remembering that Aaron Judge has been dealing with some nagging shoulder discomfort as well.

The injury to Stanton could give Clint Frazier a true shot to be a starting outfielder for the Yankees. (Robert M Pimpsner/Pinstriped Prospects)

This isn’t Armageddon, though. After all the Yankees were one of baseball’s best teams last season while leading the league in IL stints. Also, Miguel Andujar is fully healthy and played Left Field Wednesday. So now the door has opened for both Miguel Andujar and Clint Frazier, but it is by no means wide open.

The Yankees’ outfield on Opening Day is slated to have Judge in Right, Gardner in Center and Tauchman in left. On the surface, then, there still does not seem to be much opportunity for Clint and Andujar. But that’s assuming everyone stays healthy. Other than Judge’s shoulder issues, Tauchman had his 2019 season cut short due to a Grade 2 Calf Strain suffered in September.

Beyond just that, Brett Gardner is 36 years old. Who is to say he won’t get banged up early in the season? Nobody is. The question then becomes, who will be the replacement? Would it be Frazier or Andujar?

That’s a tougher question to answer. And I am sure it’s not something the Yankees want to have to think about. Neither is nearly as competent as Tauchman in the outfield, but Frazier is likely better in Left than Andujar. But the trade-off there is that Andujar is a better hitter than Frazier. If I had to guess I’d say Clint would get the nod simply because I don’t think Andujar will prove to be competent in left field this Spring.

Even when Stanton does come back one has to think that Stanton is going to be a designated hitter. And if that’s the case, it’s possible we will see cameos from either Miguel Andujar or Clint Frazier in left field at least a couple of times this season.

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