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New York Yankees' Miguel Andujar (41) hits a three-run home run during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles Tuesday, July 31, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)


Picking Up The Slack Without Judge and Sanchez

Since Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge have gone on the disabled list in Late July, the Yankees offense has taken a bit of a hit, but as they say, ‘Next Man Up’. Let’s take a peek at how the club is fairing offensively without two key cogs in their lineup.

Sanchez, who admittedly is not having a banner year, went back on the DL with a recurring hamstring issue July 23th. Three days later, Judge got hit on the wrist by a Jakob Junis fastball. Entering the July 26th game vs. Kansas City, the Yankees lead all of Major League Baseball with a wRC+ of 113 and 163 home runs.

Since that date? The Yankees are holding up the power portion, smashing a league-leading 34 home runs, but come in at 9th in wRC+ (110) in that time span entering August 20th.

One of the guys who is picking up the slack is the reigning NL MVP, Giancarlo Stanton. What was once looked at as more of a luxurious addition over the winter, now is a godsend for the club. After Stanton’s early “struggles” getting acclimated to a new team and city, he has improved month by month as the season has gone on. From the time Judge and Sanchez, both went out of the lineup, Stanton has settled into the 2-hole spectacularly, slugging nine homers and posting a 1.033 OPS, while mostly manning the DH spot due to a nagging hamstring.

Rookie of the Year candidate, Miguel Andujar, and switch-hitting Aaron Hicks have elevated their games as well. Andujar has popped eight home runs, driving in 26 RBI, and is hitting .352 in the last 30 calendar days. Hicks, meanwhile, has posted a .317 average, 1.012 OPS, and 178 wRC+, while providing his usual stellar defense in centerfield.

How is the catching position holding up with Sanchez gone? Well, Austin Romine is hitting .242 in the last month, while providing a pretty solid defensive presence. Make no mistake about it, Sanchez is sorely missed, even in a down year for him, as Yankee catchers remain in the lower third of defensive metrics (h/t Fangraphs). In 2017, a defensively healthy Sanchez nailed 38% of base-stealers, well above the league average of 27%. This year, with Sanchez in and out of the lineup, Yankee catchers nabbing runners 25% of the time. With the postseason around the corner, Sanchez’s arm is needed just as much as his potential bat in those crucial games.

Another issue has come up, as Didi Gregorius collided with Kendrys Morales over the weekend at a play at first base. With Gregorius out and headed on the DL as well with a left heel contusion, the Yanks can slide a struggling Gleyber Torres over to shortstop and let a collaboration of Ronald Torreyes, Neil Walker, and perhaps Tyler Wade, rotate at second-base.

If Didi is headed to the disabled list, it would be another blow to a lineup that is already feeling lighter than anyone could have imagined. But the Yankees have the remainder of August against teams well under .500, so they have a chance to continue to throw up W’s in the win column, while their big guys make their way back for the stretch drive. But for postseason success, they’ll need Judge and Sanchez back and rolling in the middle of that lineup.

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