Yankees 2020 Season Grades: Key players, Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman
Art of the Yankees - Brian Cashman, Gerrit Cole, Gary Sanchez and Aaron Boone
We don't believe in the Yankees universe stereotype that the season is a "failure" if the Americans don't win the World Series. This is fan-pandering nonsense for the unrealistic people who believe teams win because they want to.
However, we are ready to offer grades for the 2020 season (including the postseason) for the key Yankees, the manager and GM. And in this exercise, failure is an option. But excellence is also recognized.
GARY SANCHEZ: F.
He hit .147, hit 36% of his bats, and lost his first fishing job in the postseason. He's still in power (10 homers) but he's been so bad the Yanks may have to think about his future even though he's still under team control.
Kyle HIGASHIOKA: B-
At the end of the season he was the starting catcher, not just Gerrit Cole's personal catcher. Thanks to his strong defense (did you see the ALDS block the Rays?) And the nascent offense (.771 OPS, a three-homer game), he started five of the Yankees' seven playoff games.
Luke VOIT: A.
Voit crushed 22 homers, making it the eighth Yankee to lead MLB in longballs. How cool is it that Voit has joined a list that includes Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, and Babe Ruth? Voit acted out a "foot problem".
DJ LeMAHIEU: A.
LeMahieu was a beast again, so fine and gritty that it makes the Bronx bombers less of an all-or-whiff team. He led MLB in batting (.364) and led the AL in OPS (1.011). Re-signing the potential free agent, even after an OPS of .615 post-season, is a must.
GLEYBER TORRES: C.
Things got better as the season progressed, ending with an OPS of 0.724, and then had a big postseason (0.435 average, 1.262 OPS) to remind the baseball world how good he can be. But is he good enough defensively (nine mistakes) to be a long-term shortstop? Hmm
GIO URSHELA: A-
Proved 2019 wasn't an offensive accident by hitting .298 with a .858 OPS and also playing a strong defense in third place. Only LeMahieu and Cole had a higher BWAR on the Yankees. In October it fizzled out a bit, beyond his Grand Slam against the Indians, but overall a great season.
CLINT FRAZIER: B +
After the shaky defense had cast shadows on his game in 2019, Frazier turned into a better outfielder and continued to show that "legendary bat speed". Frazier's .905 OPS was third on the team and only LeMahieu had a higher base percentage than Frazier's .394.
BRETT GARDNER: C +
The longest-serving Yankee hasn't doubled his 19 power boost. He has only met five homers in 49 games and only bet .223. For its dynamite postseason, however, we put a plus on its grade (1,079 OPS).
AARON HICKS: B.
Hicks goes. He is very good at finishing second in the AL and fifth in the MLB at 41. He had more walks than strike (38), and his base percentage of 0.379 was 57 points better than the MLB average. He also had tough, smart bats during the postseason, scoring an OBP of 0.424.
AARON RICHTER: C +
Judge is a great player, but he has only played 63% of the Yankees' regular season games in the last three seasons, including 28 out of 60 (46.7%) this year. He's just getting hurt too bad. A monster start (nine homers, 1,101 OPS in 17 games) failed after his injury. He hit three post-season homers but had just one more hit, hitting .133 with a .229 OBP.
GIANCARLO STANTON: B.
Like Judge, Stanton can't stay on the field enough and only appeared in 23 regular season games (.887 OPS, four homers). But the King of Exit Velocity has been wild in the postseason (six homers, 13 RBI, 1,426 OPS) which looks promising for the future.
GERRIT COLE: A.
Had some homer issues (14 in the regular season, four more in the playoffs). But he was the ace they longed for in the postseason, and which they took for the first time in the crucial game against the Rays on a three-day break and delivered the 5.1-innings one-run ball.
JAMES PAXTON: D.
An injury ruined his season - he missed the last 35 games and the playoffs after returning from off-season back surgery. He struggled when he pitched (6.64 ERA, despite a 4.37 FIP).
MASAHIRO TANAKA: C.
His regular season was solid (3.56 ERA, three earned runs or less in nine out of ten starts). But his rep as the postseason ace was set on fire: he had an ERA of 12.38 in two starts, almost doubling his career postseason ERA to 3.33.
YES. HAPP: B-
His first two starts were anyway (at best) but his last seven were sharp. He held opponents against an OPS of 0.581 and had an ERA of 2.34 over that period. However, the postseason hurt his grade. He seemed unhappy with his piggyback assignment in Game 2 against the Rays and then threw himself badly (2.2 innings, four runs) with a loss of flash point.
DEIVI GARCIA: B-
Several strong starts made it clear just how much potential there is here, and it should play a huge role in a rebuilt rotation in 2021. But it was also hit and ended with an ERA of 4.98. Garcia, 21, is good enough to wonder what could have happened if he got more than one inning in the Americans' botched Game 2 pitching plan.
JORDAN MONTGOMERY: C +
The normal year (5.11 ERA) got a boost from his sharp start to Game 4 in the ALDS, where he gave up a run in four innings to help the Yankees force a crucial fifth game.
ZACK BRITTON: A-
Was filled in as closer for part of the season and had an ERA of 1.89 in 20 appearances. Continued to receive grounders at an elite rate - his 71.7% groundball percentage was the best among pitchers with at least 19 innings. Keep opponents to an average of 0.059 in the postseason.
AROLDIS CHAPMAN: D.
He was 3v5 in safe odds, had an ERA of 3.09 and is still on strike material. But he gave up a crucial home run in a playoff game for the second consecutive October, the only thing everyone will remember.
CHAD GREEN: B.
By the end of the year, Green was one of the few aides in Aaron Boone's Circle of Trust, throwing important post-season innings (3.38 ERA). During the regular season he had a 3.51 ERA.
ADAM OTTAVINO: D.
Bad effort against Toronto (six runs, no failures) spoiled his numbers (5.89 ERA), but Boone didn't seem to trust him too late either and only gave him one playoff appearance.
AARON BOONE: B-
We're not making him the scapegoat for the pitching debacle in Game 2, but he should have either made sure Happ was on board or sunk the whole thing. Otherwise, he was a steady hand in one bizarre season.
BRIAN CASHMAN: C +
Points for signing Cole and acquisitions like Voit and LeMahieu are now franchise foundation. Should he have added pitching by the middle of the year? Yes. Could he have? That's another question. Nevertheless, he has to bear the rotation errors, injuries and October defects, even if the Americans compete against each other every year.
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