1. Gary Sanchez
Luckily, the shift ban may not be the Yankees’ problem here — Gary Sánchez’s final season under team control is 2022, and as difficult as it might be to improve on his offensive output in free agency, it still seems nearly guaranteed that the team will be moving on from him when the campaign closes.
Offensively, Sánchez ended up roughly league average in 2021, posting a 99 OPS+ with 23 bombs. He was worth just 0.7 WAR, though, with the disparity coming mainly due to his defensive deficiencies.
Sánchez experienced a roughly 50-50 split in terms of being shifted against vs experiencing a “normal” infield, giving us the cleanest peek possible at his outlook. In 214 PAs with the shift, he posted a .327 wOBA. In 218 without? .305.
With infielders shifted/taking away the single through the right side, Sánchez continued to pull, finding greater success in ripping the ball down the left-field line (and into those specific seats). Perhaps the definitive El Gary highlight from his Yankee tenure was his two-run, tie-breaking double against the Astros in Game 4 of the 2017 ALCS, where he surprisingly went the other way and found safe space in the grass.
That’s significantly atypical for Sánchez, however, and he’s more likely to succeed with the shift on than with it off.