You wouldn't know it based on their record, but the New York Yankees have been one of Major League Baseball's most unlucky teams in 2019.
We're still two weeks short of June, yet the Yankees have already sent 17 different players to the injured list this season. And yet despite those many key losses, the Yankees are only a half game behind Tampa Bay in the AL East standings with a 27-17 record.
There has to be some weird explanation for the success they've been able to achieve despite being without Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Didi Gregorius, and many others, for long stretches. And we believe this one stat has that pretty well covered.
The Yankees have had 16 different players hit home runs this season.
They have 0 from Stanton, Hicks, Gregorius, and Andujar who combined for 119 HR last year.
— Sweeny Murti (@YankeesWFAN) May 18, 2019
If you look at the Yankees’ home run leaderboard from their record-breaking season in 2018, it’s Stanton, Aaron Hicks, Gregorius and Miguel Andújar, along with Judge.
Of that group, Hicks is the only one currently healthy. But he only played in his first game Wednesday after sitting out with a back injury.
Not surprisingly, the Yankees are well behind the overall home run pace they set last season. As a team, the Yankees have hit 64 home runs. That ranks 10th in MLB. That's quite remarkable actually given all the firepower that's missing.
It's really a hodgepodge group that is keeping the lineup clicking. But there are some familiar names contributing.
Gary Sanchez leads the team with 12 homers. Brett Gardner has six, and Judge, despite being out for almost a month, has five. Unfortunately, the Yankees still don't know when Judge will be back.
Then there's the new wave of Yankees favorites. Coming off his strong finish to 2018, Luke Voit has stayed locked in to begin 2019. He’s second on the team with 11 homers. Second-year infielder Gleyber Torres isn't far behind with eight. While longtime prospect Clint Frazier has six.
Where did they come from?
This is where it starts to get a little weird.
Because of their injuries, the Yankees have been forced to dig pretty deep to find replacements. Some players, like Mike Ford and Thairo Estrada, have come from within the organization. Others, like Mike Tauchman, Gio Urshela, Kendrys Morales, and even the most recent, Cameron Maybin, have basically come in right off the scrap heap.
The one thing this group has in common? No one expected them to hit home runs for the Yankees, or perhaps even anywhere in MLB, in 2019.
You have to give general manager Brian Cashman some credit here. He's always looking for depth. In the case of Urshela especially, that search might have unearthed a hidden gem. The 27-year-old leads the team with a .347 batting average.
The other Yankees to homer this season are D.J. LeMahieu, Troy Tulowitzki, Greg Bird and Austin Romine.
LeMahieu is another signing that’s worked out well for New York. He’s tied for the team lead with 46 hits and second with 10 doubles. Tulowitzki and Bird are both injured, which unfortunately isn’t unusual for them. Romine is the Yankees’ backup catcher.
The biggest name missing from this list is Stanton. His 38 homers last season led the Yankees. His 59 homers in 2017 led MLB.
Gregorius, Andújar and Hicks each hit 27 home runs in 2018. Gregorius could return to the lineup next month after having offseason Tommy John surgery. Andújar is slated for season-ending shoulder surgery on Monday. Hicks, as noted, just returned to the lineup this week.
If there’s a caveat here, it’s that nine of the 16 players have hit two home runs or fewer. But let’s be honest. We weren’t expecting most of these guys to contribute at all, and the Yankees have needed every last one of them.
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