The Yankee Winter of 2021 Stove League rumors currently have the Yankees pursuing a Lefty Power bat — such as Joey Gallo of the Texas Rangers. Some fans have questioned why on earth the Yanks would go after a power hitter with low batting average and a lot of whiffs like Gallo — and where on earth he’d fit in this Yankee lineup. The thing is — he’s a lefty, and that would make him a rarity on the current Yankee team.
Great Yankee Teams of Late 70’s Featured Lefties
With the short porch in left at Yankee Stadium, GM’s thru the ages have always made sure the Yankee lineup was loaded with lefty power bats. When Gabe Paul constructed the the team that had the Yankees winning 3 straight pennants and 2 World Series titles in the late 1970’s, their lineup featured a predominance of left-handed bats:
- Reggie Jackson — Lefty Bat
- Graig Nettles — Lefty Bat
- Chris Chambliss — Lefty Bat
- Mickey Rivers — Lefty Bat
- Bobby Murcer — Lefty Bat (for the pennant run in 1974 and then again for the 103-win team that won the division title of 1980 and pennant of 1981)
- Roy White — Switch Hitter
That is an awesome array of lefty hitters. Not to mention important reserves or part-time starters:
Yankee Dynasty of Late 90’s Featured Lefties
When the Yankees of Gene Michael had their dynasty of the late 90’s, they also featured a lot of strong lefty bats:
- Paul O’Neill — Lefty Bat
- Tino Martinez — Lefty Bat
- David Justice — Lefty Bat
- Wade Boggs — Lefty Bat
- Darryl Strawberry — Lefty Bat
- Bernie Williams — Switch Hitter
- Jorge Posada — Switch Hitter
Important reserves during different years included:
Last Title Team of 2009 Had Lefties
The last time the Yankees won a title — Brian Cashman’s 2009 team, had a significant lefy presence:
- Hideki Matsui — Lefty Bat
- Robinson Cano — Lefty Bat
- Johnny Damon — Lefty Bat
- Brett Gardner — Lefty Bat
- Jorge Posada — Switch Hitter
- Mark Teixeira — Switch Hitter
- Nick Swisher — Switch Hitter
- Melky Cabrera — Switch Hitter
Today’s Yankees — Almost All Righties!
Today’s Brian Cashman Yankees are astonishingly Left-Handed bat averse. This is the current lineup:
- C: Gary Sanchez — Right Handed Batter
- 1B: Luke Voit — Right Handed Batter
- 2B: DJ LeMahieu — Right Handed Batter
- SS: Gleyber Torres — Right Handed Batter
- 3B: Gio Urshela — Right Handed Batter
- RF: Aaron Judge — Right Handed Batter
- CF: Aaron Hicks — Switch Hitter
- LF: Clint Frazier — Right Handed Batter
- DH: Giancarlo Stanton — Right Handed Batter
- DH/3B: Miguel Andujar — Right Handed Batter
Yikes! All righties sans Hicks!
The lefties are all on the Yankee bench: Brett Gardner (if they re-sign him), Michael Tauchman and Mike Ford (.135 avg) — both terrible last year. Tauchman got on base (.242 avg, .342 OBP) but had zero power (literally; 0 homers in 111 plate appearances, 95 at bats). Tyler Wade is also a lefty, but he’s a light-hitting infielder.
Thus the interest in bringing back Brett Gardner and getting an established lefty power bat or two. Gardner only batted .223 last year, but his OBP was an amazing .354, and he offers some power (28 homers in 2019, 5 homers in 130 at bats during the covid-shortened 2020), great defense in center or left — and is a Lefty Bat. He will be 37 yrs old in 2021 and seems an ideal reserve.
Joey Gallo will be 27 next year, and is coming off a 10-26-.181 with a .301 OBP in 193 at bats. He plays outfield, 1st base, and 3rd base. He’s hit 40 homers twice, and sports a lifetime OBP of .327. But a lifetime avg of .208 and strikes out about 200 times per 500 at bats.
Do the Yanks need to trade for a lefty? Cashman has clearly been banking on having a lineup of really good right-handed batters may be better than throwing in a few lefties who aren’t as good. Thomas points out: “The team had a higher OPS against rightys last year. By almost 100 points……”
Brian_TGP also argues against trading for any old lefty: “So throw any ole lefty in the lineup. And nevermind the fact that the lefty we’ve been discussing actually has reverse splits, which kind of defeat the whole purpose. And another homer or strikeout guy too! Yay!”