Fleet of ex-Yankees making offensive leap in 2024 raises fair questions

At best, it's annoying!
New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays
New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays / Vaughn Ridley/GettyImages

Picking a group of former Yankees who are currently spread throughout the league at random and whining about performance improvements is typically a loser's errand. After all, there will always be players who join the Yankees and beef up their stats thanks to data-driven adjustments. There will also always be former Yankees who never get it, like Tyler Wade. Focusing exclusively on the ex-Bombers who progress is something a fan can do every year if they want to be a stick in the mud.

That said ... this year's edition of former Yankees in new homes hitting homers is particularly glaring. And, with the current Yankees mired in a stretch where they once again cannot find any offensive production outside of Juan Soto and Aaron Judge (despite rostering talent!), it's fair to say this feels more like organizational rot than any one hitting coach's problem. Or maybe it's just terrible luck over and over and over again in multiple marke

In essence: Gleyber Torres will make the All-Star team next season. It's now been decreed.

Harrison Bader, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Kyle Higashioka throwing Yankees' methods into question

Of course -- of course -- this isn't a uniformly true principle. Including "Hicks last year" is a fool's errand; nobody has ever been more checked out in a Yankee uniform, and keeping him as his struggles morphed into something demonic would've been subhuman. He hit .275 with an .806 OPS with last year's Orioles, then .140 with this year's Angels. Move on from that one.

But it is frustrating that defense-first players who the Yankees couldn't mine a lick of offense from last year (as well as, uh, defense) are all starring at the dish after departing. Harrison Bader has a 112 OPS+ while anchoring the Mets' outfield and proved he could hit right-handed pitching these days with some homers off the Yankees last week. Last season, given an audition for a long-term deal, he posted an OPS+ of 75. Isiah Kiner-Falefa became a fan favorite when he was ready and willing to take on any defensive position asked of him last year, but his OPS+ actually decreased year-over-year (84 to 78). This year, it sits at 114 in Toronto. Kyle Higashioka, notably, sits at 122, 42 points above his career average. Somehow, I doubt there are ongoing conversations in San Diego about how everyone runs all over him on the base paths.

The Yankees should have moved on from all of these pieces. They also should have been able to improve offensively without them (while treading water defensively). They haven't. And, during dark times, fans' eyes are going to naturally wander. When one formerly feckless player shows improvement, it's an outlier. When several do, it's fair to wonder if the Yankees are targeting players who can't handle the pressure, or if there's something strange permeating the clubhouse that even an Aaron Judge talking to can't solve.