The New York Yankees are looking like one of the best teams going into the 2018 season, especially with the addition of the MLB "Home Run King" Giancarlo Stanton.
But, the Yankees are now loaded with outfielders. Here is the list:
- Aaron Judge
- Giancarlo Stanton
- Aaron Hicks
- Brett Gardner
- Clint Frazier
- Jacoby Ellsbury
Six outfielders for three spots, and the DH but you can include Gary Sanchez in that discussion, as new manager Aaron Boone will have one of the best outfields to play with next season.
Judge and Stanton are the only for sure everyday players on that list as the newly formed "Bash Brothers".
So there is really only one spot up for grabs.
Frazier looks to be headed out the door in a possible trade for starting pitching, in particular, Gerrit Cole, so we will exclude him.
That leaves Gardner, Hicks, and Ellsbury.
Hicks stole the starting job away from Ellsbury in 2017 and ended up posting up some pretty good numbers, the best in his career.
Will he be able to repeat that?
On the other hand, Gardner is a beloved Yankee who has been with the team his entire career and was a part of the last World Series champion team in 2009, he is also the Yankees leadoff hitter.
But, should he be?
Honestly, Ellsbury should be the starting center fielder and leadoff hitter, let me tell you why.
The Yankees are a team that will have a lot of firepower in 2018 and power is the only real stat in which Gardner beats out Ellsbury by a lot.
In 2017, Gardner hit for .264 with 21 homers, 63 RBIs, an OBP of .350 in 682 plate appearances, and 23 stolen bases.
On the other hand, Ellsbury hit for the same .264 batting average with 7 homers, 39 RBIs, an OBP of .348 in 409 plate appearances, and 22 swiped bags for the Yankees in 2017.
As you can tell there is not much of a difference between Gardner and Ellsbury, yes maybe the power, but do the Yankees really need a power hitter as their leadoff guy.
Some will say, well what about Hicks?
The 27-year-old is a good player but he is not the fastest on the team, he was only able to steal 10 bags during the season and the Yanks will need some speed on the bases to go along with all that power.
Joe Girardi stashed Ellsbury away on the bench for a very long time, but it's not his team anymore.
Look, Ellsbury will never live up to his $21 million a year billing, Yankees made a mistake giving him that kind of cash but that doesn't mean he can't still contribute to a team that will start the season as the favorites.
The Yankees added 59 home runs to their lineup in the Stanton trade, so giving up the 36 dingers between Gardner and Hicks wouldn't be as missed as many may think.
If Ellsbury stays with the Yankees, he deserves another shot, a clean slate. You never know, what if he becomes the player of old.
One can only hope.