Jake Bauers, Willie Calhoun, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks, Isaiah Kiner-Falefa, Oswaldo Cabrera, Franchy Cordero, and Billy McKinney—these are some names that have manned left field for the New York Yankees this season. To nobody’s surprise, it hasn’t worked out. Now Yankee fans are asking if Cody Bellinger can solve their problems.
BY THE NUMBERS
The Yankees boast the league’s 27th-best left field, according to FanGraphs WAR, and rank 24th in Batting Average, 28th in On-Base Percentage, 27th in Weighted On-Base Average, and 22nd in Slugging Percentage at the position.
If you asked any Yankee fan or member of the Front Office prior to the 2023 season, they would all say that left field was the hole to fill. However, the Yankees still entered the season with Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Cabrera. They were practically writing their own death certificate for the position. Fast forward 80 or so games, and Aaron Hicks has been Designated for Assignment, while Oswaldo Cabrera has underperformed while waffling between Scranton and the Bronx.
Now, as we approach the trade deadline, the Yankees find themselves exactly where everyone knew they would be: in need of another outfielder. Enter Cody Bellinger as a potential fix.
IS BELLINGER FOR REAL?
Bellinger signed an offseason “prove it” deal with the Chicago Cubs for $17.5 million. So far, his results have been good. Bellinger is slashing .298/.352/.486 with a .355 wOBA, along with 8 home runs.
The Cubs sit seven games out of a wild-card spot and 8 games out of first place in the NL Central. They will almost certainly trade Cody Bellinger, alongside other pieces, and they are likely salivating at his overperformance.
If you look under the hood of Bellinger’s numbers, it’s clear that the Yankees ought to let someone else overpay for him.
Bellinger’s batted-ball profile is terrible, with a hard-hit rate at 27.5%, ranking in the 6th percentile in all of baseball. His .298 batting average is a ways off from his .248 xBA, and his .355 wOBA is similarly far from his .294 xwOBA.
While he has produced a 123 wRC+ to this point, FanGraphs’ Steamer projections have him as a 100 wRC+ hitter for the remainder of the season. Considering what the Yankees need and the price Bellinger may command based on results and name value alone, the Yankees should look elsewhere for outfield assistance.
Bellinger has outperformed expectations all season. There’s not much reason to expect that he would make a tangible difference in the team’s success in 2023, and whoever acquires him is likely going to become a victim of his regression.