It’s been a little over a month since the Yankees acquired Chase Headley from the Padres, and just short of a month since they added Stephen Drew and Martin Prado. All 3 players were brought in to be marginal upgrades over the players who were playing second base, third base, and right field at the time, and as Katie pointed out last week, they’ve more than accomplished that on the defensive front.
Offensively it’s been a different story. While there have been flashes of brilliance, a timely hit here and there, and a big current hot streak for Prado, collectively this trio has underwhelmed with the bats. With each guy being brought in to help this year and audition for a more permanent role with the team next season, I think this rough 1-month cutoff point is a good time to take a look at how they’ve performed offensively and how those performances could factor into the team’s offseason plans.
Started off his Yankee career with a bang by knocking in the game-winning run on July 22nd and racking up 10 hits in his first 8 games. He’s cooled down considerably since and has basically settled into a line of production similar to what he was doing for San Diego before the trade. In 118 plate appearances as a Yankee, Headley is batting .245/.347/.353 with 2 HR, 11 R, 10 RBI, 2 SB, a 12.7% BB rate, and a 23.7% K rate. Almost all of his offensive value has been in the walks he’s drawn. His power output has been lower than what it was in San Diego (.355 SLG there and .125 ISO compared to .108 in New York), and he’s only hitting .217/.341/.304 this month.
Almost all of Headley’s other peripherals are in line with what he was doing before the trade. Contact splits, swing rates, strikeouts, the works. The only thing that’s really changed is the BB rate. With the expectation being that his numbers would get bumped up by leaving Petco Park, Headley’s production has to come as a slight disappointment to the Yankees. He’s stayed healthy enough to play every day and has hit to all fields like Cash said he would, but it looks more and more like his big 2012 season was the exception to the rule with each passing game. On the wrong side of 30 and with a long recent list of injuries, he might be inspiring Cash and Co. to look elsewhere for a starting third baseman this offseason.
Where Headley has been only slightly disappointing, Drew has been a virtual black hole with the bat since coming over from the Sawx. His sample size of 62 PA is much smaller, small enough that a few good games could improve his batting line significantly, but that.164/.242/.291 line with 1 HR and 4 R scored is brutal. Drew has walked as much as he was in Boston (9.7% BB rate) and struck out less (22.6% K rate with the Yanks compared to 26.9% before), but he hasn’t had anything to show for his swings. He’s hitting the ball in the air at over a 54% rate in pinstripes, which is much higher than his career average. That surely has something to do with his .195 BABIP.
Maybe Drew is trying a little too hard to take advantage of the short porch in right. Maybe he still hasn’t shaken all the rust off from so much missed time earlier in the season. What he’s definitely doing is giving the Yankees reason to pass on him as Jeter’s successor next year. He’s going to be given a few more games at short down the stretch. It’d be nice to see Drew put together a good final month at the plate to give the front office something to think about.
Prado was plodding along in Drew-like production territory through his first 13 games as a Yankee. On August 15th he had a .163/.217/.256 tripleslash with 2 XBH and 11 K. Over the last 8 games, however, he’s been the hottest hitter in the lineup, going 13-32 with 5 2B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, and 7 R scored. Prado matched Headley’s total power output over 29 games in 8. This current hot streak has left him with a respectable .267/.295/.467 line in 78 PA.
Never a big walk guy, Prado has drawn 2 in his 21 Yankee games (2.6% BB rate) while his K rate has soared to 23.1%. Sample size being what it is, that’s a pretty big increase for a guy with a career K rate of 11.0%. This shift in BB/K numbers paired with the increase in flyballs (41.1%, up from 26.6% with Arizona) suggests that Prado has been changing his approach to be more aggressive and hit for more power as a Yankee. A comparison of his spray chart from Arizona to the one from his brief time in New York does show a previous tendency towards hitting back up the middle and to right field and a much more even BIP distribution now with some clearly defined pull power, so maybe he and K-Long have been working on something.
He looks good now and he’s the only one of these 3 who will definitely be around next year. If Prado can continue to hit for some level close to the power he’s shown in the last 8 games, the Yankees could already have 1 of their 2015 infield problems solved.