3 struggling Yankees players who need to figure it out before discourse gets toxic

Miami Marlins v New York Yankees
Miami Marlins v New York Yankees / Dustin Satloff/GettyImages

For a hot second there, the New York Yankees were on top of the world. And all their deficiencies were masked because they were 12-3. But a three-game losing streak will start to expose the cracks, and fans have started to groan about a few things that weren't exactly up to snuff.

The bullpen is what we'd call a "problem" but there's time to sort that out. Guys are expected to come back, and there's always the trade deadline to make last-minute adjustments. Not the end of the world.

The rotation has held up nicely. Though we'd like to see more from Carlos Rodón and Nestor Cortes, they've shown signs of bouncing back and will hopefully have Gerrit Cole by their side once again come June. All in all, not panicking. Yet.

But the lineup? Yeah ... many of the same problems, year over year, remain. They still can't hit with runners in scoring position (their .255 average with RISP is deceptive because it's inflated by a couple of massive showings). They're still grounding into a ton of double plays (lead the league with 21). They're not exactly "slugging" (.384 slugging percentage ranks 17th in MLB).

All of that could be attributed to a number of players struggling mightily early on. And these guys were expected to be front-facing contributors. Luckily we're not having this conversation about Juan Soto or Aaron Judge (though we need more from him), but it's time these guys wake up and smell the coffee.

3 struggling Yankees players who need to figure it out before discourse goes south

Austin Wells

He's still a rookie. He's not getting full-time reps with Jose Trevino as the starting catcher. There are understandable reasons as to why Austin Wells hasn't been on track offensively right out of the gate, even after the way he ended his 2023 campaign on a promising note.

But a .103 batting average? .347 OPS? 5 OPS+? Zero extra-base hits? He's played in 11 games and stepped into the batter's box 37 times. He has three singles.

The positives? He's logged six walks and four runs scored and has only whiffed six times. And his Baseball-Savant page is surprisingly red. So something's gotta give here. Just something. Wells cannot be bottoming out with these numbers in an all-important developmental year.

It's hard enough to play in New York. It's even harder when you're a promising young player trying to find your way.

Anthony Rizzo

Turns out, Anthony Rizzo destroying baseballs during spring training didn't really matter. Well, we'll continue to stand by the fact it was an encouraging development because of how badly his cognitive impairment led to his astounding offensive spiral in 2023.

But 2024 hasn't really offered much of a difference. We say that because this is a new-look Yankees lineup that was supposed to help Rizzo see more pitches and pick his spots better. The result? Rizzo is hitting .243 and slugging .314. Yes, he did get robbed on two occasions Tuesday night thanks to web gems from the Blue Jays defense, but his two-run homer against Toronto 10 days ago marks his lone impactful offensive contribution in a winning effort.

He's also made four errors in 18 games this season after making four in his last 92 (and yes, we're still counting the error that MLB took away on Tuesday because ... it was an error. Not sure what the official scorers are doing this season).

Either way, take it away or keep it, Rizzo's defense has not been sharp. And his offense has been non-existent. After his disappearing act in the second half of 2022, his 2023 season being derailed by injury, and now an incredibly slow start to 2024, he's on the fast track to have his team option declined in the offseason if this persists.

Gleyber Torres

The Gleyber stans simply can't believe it. How can anybody possibly criticize him?! He bounced back last year and finished with a 118 OPS+! He's technically one of the best middle infielders in the game! Yes ... if you look at the surface-level stats. And if you look at how few second basemen are actually above-average players.

Torres shouldn't be graded differently because his position is historically weak. It definitely helps his argument in contract talks, but when you're looking at the sum of a team's parts, everybody simply needs to be doing their job efficiently. And Torres doesn't do that.

He commits mental lapses regularly. He'll make an unthinkable, dazzling defensive play, and then boot a routine grounder or airmail a throw to first base. And before you say it, no, those acts don't cancel themselves out. It's almost preferred he keeps his head in the game, makes the easy play, and doesn't tease us with the elite web gems. It'd actually help the Yankees in the long run.

Yankees fans have come to accept it, though. The inconsistent defense will always be part of his game. But the offense? That was his calling card. And it disappeared from 2020-2022, for the most part. His resurgence in 2023 gave fans hope he'd be ready for a monster contract year but ... he's hitting just .206/.321/.235 with zero home runs, two RBI and 17 strikeouts in 82 plate appearances. He's looked lost at the plate, like Rizzo, despite the lineup getting 100 times better around him.

Torres simply cannot be in the news for the wrong reasons. He's had trouble handling it mentally before, so there's no chance that'll be any different when the pressure is mounting in a World Series-or-bust contract year.

It's only April, but this needs to stop before the endless chatter plays a role in torpedoing the rest of Torres' season.

This MLB season is just getting started and you can make the most of it by betting on your favorite teams and players thanks to FanDuel. You'll get $150 in bonus bets, win or lose, if you sign up, deposit $10 or more and then bet $5 or more on any game this week. Click this link to claim your guaranteed bonus from FanDuel today!