Yankees: Could Mike Tauchman’s newfound power stroke help him make roster?
Just when New York Yankees fans thought the team was closer to figuring out who’d be on the Opening Day roster, a report dropped on Monday suggesting otherwise, and then Mike Tauchman did his thing.
During Tuesday’s spring training game against the Detroit Tigers, Tauchman cranked a leadoff home run to put the Bombers ahead. That’s his third blast of the spring, tied with Gary Sanchez for the team lead!
Tauchman, who’s lacked power his entire pro career, slugged 13 homers in just 87 games in 2019. Then he hit zero in 43 games in 2020. Now he’s … back?
Could this change the team’s thinking when it comes to the Opening Day roster?
One of the bigger reasons Jay Bruce has been at the forefront of the discussion was because of his power, veteran experience, and ability to put forth quality at-bats. But if Tauchman can answer the questions in regards to the gaps in his game, perhaps the Yankees won’t be faced with the tough decision to trade or outright release him.
Tauchman’s .869 OPS this spring is already way ahead of Bruce’s .706 (and Bruce has actually gotten four more at-bats). Their OBPs are nothing to write home about at this point, but Tauchma’s .240 average looks a lot better than Bruce’s .207. Many fans were quick to anoint Bruce as the third guy on the Yankees’ bench, but Tauchman is shifting the conversation rather quickly.
When you consider Tauchman’s superior defense and skilled base running, all he’s lacking (if this play were to continue into the regular season) is the veteran track record Bruce possesses.
The problem with Tauchman has largely been in the advanced metrics. A lousy career 4.4% barrel percentage, an exit velo of 87 MPH, an expected slugging percentage of .358, and an expected WOBA of .303. Let’s look at Bruce’s career numbers here:
- Barrel %: 9.6%
- Exit Velo: 89.1 MPH
- xSLG: .468
- xWOBA: .332
Then again, Tauchman is much younger with more room to grow and under club control for quite some time at an extremely team-friendly price. While Monday’s buzz from SNY’s Andy Martino suggested the Yankees could carry both Tauchman and Bruce on the Opening Day roster, fans are having trouble understanding how that makes sense.
They both largely play the corner outfield spots. Both have limited experience at first base (Tauchman hasn’t played since college, though). New York certainly doesn’t need two more outfielders with Brett Gardner on the bench and Giancarlo Stanton hoping to play a good chunk of his games on defense.
Tauchman has a few more days to plead his case if the Yankees are indeed only going to head back to the Bronx with one of them, though, as Bruce’s spring opt-out is set for the 27th. With 10 days left until the start of the season, this will no doubt come down to the wire.