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Analysis

Mike Tauchman could provide key role for Yankees in 2020

The New York Yankees have a big season coming up and one player who could hold a key role is outfielder Mike Tauchman.

In the New York Yankees outfield, all of the talk typically surrounds Aaron Judge. And while that’s rightfully so, a name that shouldn’t be forgotten amongst Yankee fans is Mike Tauchman. As pitchers and catchers prepare to report for Spring Training in just over a month, Tauchman could play himself into a key depth role.

Entering spring training, the Yankees outfield is somewhat set. We know Judge is in right field. There’s a chance Giancarlo Stanton sees more time in left field. But one of the bigger question marks resides in who will man centerfield. Even though the Yankees agreed to a new deal with veteran Brett Gardner, there’s a chance Tauchman gives him a run for his money.

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On paper, the argument is probably that the center field job is Gardner’s to lose. However, Tauchman showed in 2019 that he can be a force at the plate and a reliable defender roaming the outfield. Even if Gardner keeps the starting role, Tauchman can still hold a key depth spot on the bench.

Tauchman played in 87 games during the 2019 season. He had 296 plate appearances and slashed .277/.361/.504 with 13 home runs, 47 RBIs and a 128 OPS+. He is also a disciplined hitter. His knack for discipline at the plate led to a 11.5% walk rate.

Is Tauchman a 25-homer, 90-RBI hitter in the big leagues? Probably not. The sample is too small to truly guage his season-long impact. However, the 29-year-old has shown plenty of promise from the left side to warrant an opportunity for the starting job in centerfield. There’s also a chance Gardner and Tauchman both work in the outfield at the same time. That could be the more likely scenario with Stanton as the DH.

Regardless, a strong showing in spring training should give Tauchman a chance to make an impact on the 26-man roster. Aaron Hicks will be out for the majority of the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. His timetable isn’t clear yet, but he’s expected to miss 8–10 months beginning in October.

Tauchman also showed he can hold his own in the outfield at multiple spots. That gives him an advantage over someone like Clint Frazier, who is also competing for a roster spot.

The Yankees still have some things to sort out in the outfield come spring training. But don’t be surprised if Tauchman holds a key role on the roster by the time the regular season rolls around.

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