DETROIT — In giving his reasons why this season offensively won’t be like last season, Aaron Boone cited the “track records” of a handful of his players
So far, 10 games into the season, which continued Tuesday night with the first of three games against the Tigers, signs of bounce-back years were mixed.
First, the good.
DJ LeMahieu, whose season-long struggles last season were a big part of the offense’s inconsistency, has started strong.
After a 1-for-10 beginning, LeMahieu came into Tuesday night in an 8-for-18 stretch, hitting .321 with one homer and a .924 OPS overall.
And Aaron Hicks, whose 2021 was cut short after 32 games as he underwent season-ending surgery May 26 to repair a tendon sheath tear in his left wrist, entered this series having reached base in each of his eight games with a plate appearance, slashing .333/.438/.444 with one homer and five walks.
Given that former first baseman Mark Teixeira underwent a similar procedure in July of 2013 —
after suffering the tear during the World Baseball Classic that spring, with the effects of that lingering throughout the following season — Hicks’ start is far from insignificant.
But that is where the good news ends for the most part.
Joey Gallo, a trade deadline acquisition last season who many thought would be a bad fit for New York — including some with the Yankees — has seen his difficulties continue. He has proved to be a significant upgrade in the field and, as Aaron Boone has correctly contended, he has run into some bad luck with a handful of hard-hit balls that have found defenders. But the opposition often hits balls hard, too, right at fielders that Yankees’ pitchers have reaped benefit from so that isn’t always the full story.
Regardless, it has all added up to Gallo hitting .138 with zero homers and a .424 OPS.
But perhaps the biggest disappointment so far from a player who has not yet bounced back from a rough 2021 is Gleyber Torres.
Torres, 25, an All-Star in 2018 — his rookie season in which he finished third in AL Rookie of the Year voting — and again in 2019, has put himself in danger of spending even more time on the bench (LeMahieu and not Torres was in Tuesday’s lineup, though Boone said the latter would be back in Wednesday).
A slide that began in 2020 culminated in last season’s disaster in which Torres hit .259 with nine homers and a .697 OPS in 127 games but also saw the Yankees abandon their plan of him as their shortstop of the future, shifting him back to second base.
There was a glimmer of hope after the shift back as Torres hit .300 with two homers and an .815 OPS over his last 19 games and that seemed to carry over into this spring in which Torres hit .294 with three homers and a .910 OPS.
But the curtain quickly came down when the regular season began as Torres brought a .161 average with one homer and a .552 OPS into Tuesday.
The struggles of Torres and Gallo, of course, aren’t solely to blame for the Yankees’ overall poor performance offensively 10 games into the season, a stretch in which the club hit a combined .229 with 10 homers and a .677 OPS, striking out 92 times in 328 at-bats.
A rival National League scout Monday said the approach at this point appears similar to the one last year.
“It just looks like there’s no plan. It looks like it’s all or nothing,” the evaluator said. “Like it’s ‘we’re going to try and hit the ball as far as we absolutely can.’ There’s no adjustments. Everyone now with the Yankees, what they seem to be doing, is they’re going to the data to try and make the adjustments and changes, not the actual physical ones, the ‘feel.’ You can’t do that with hitters. You can give them all the information you want, they still have to see and feel what they’re doing wrong.”