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Happy Friday, everyone. Seems like another rainy day on the horizon, but hey: it’s still Friday. Anyway, it’s been a good week of Yankee baseball. Our Yanks haven’t yet lost this week, going 5-0 against Cleveland, Tampa Bay, and Houston. They’ve outscored opponents 41-13 in that stretch, they’ve won 6 in a row overall, and the lead over the second-place Rays is now 4.5 games (5 on the loss column). It’s been good.

To celebrate, here’s our second mailbag. Five questions this week. As always, please email viewsfrom314 [at] gmail [dot] com or click the contact button at the top of the page if you have a question for us to answer. Let’s get right to it.

Tim asks: Even with his current injury, is Andujar still valuable enough to be a centerpiece in a deal for a top-flight starting pitcher? DJLM is and should be our starting 3B this year and next, at least. Shouldn’t Miggy get sent away in a trade before Frazier?

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I personally don’t believe that Andújar is currently equipped to be the centerpiece of a trade for a top-flight starting pitcher, though I suppose it depends on who we mean by “top-flight starting pitcher.” If that’s someone like Mad Max Scherzer, then no, definitely not. That’s just because the dude tore his labrum.

I’m an optimist by nature, so it pains me to say this, but labrum injuries are among the very worst injuries that a baseball player can endure. Though that’s mostly due to its brutal impact on pitchers–about half of all pitchers with this injury don’t return to form–it’s still a brutal injury, even with new developments in medicine and care. I’d have to imagine that, even though Andújar is a third-baseman and not a pitcher, teams would be cautious about making him the centerpiece in any major deal. Just a guess, though. I’m no doctor.

Separately, I do want to explore the notion that LeMahieu should start over Andújar (assuming both are healthy, of course). Check this out:

  • .297/.328/.527 (128 wRC+), .230 ISO, 16.0% K%, 4.1% BB%, 20.0% LD%
  • .314/.360/.466 (120 wRC+), .152 ISO, 13.9% K%, 6.5% BB%, 23.6% LD%

Who’s who? I suspect it’s obvious, but Andújar’s 2018 is the first line, DJLM’s 2019 is the second. DJLM has been phenomenal. He really has. But let’s not underestimate Andújar’s rookie season here. He was, by many metrics, even better than DJLM has been–and this is, at worst, the second best season of DJLM’s career. He’s been league-average otherwise in his career. It’s not a slam-dunk.

Now, back in the real world, this is a lot more challenging. Andújar faces a grueling rehabilitation and serious question marks about his future productivity, and DJLM’s defense is exceptional while Andújar’s is… not that. Let’s all hope that Andújar’s rehabilitation goes smoothly, he comes back full strength, and that DJLM continues his torrid pace. Too many good players seems to be a recurring Yankee “problem” these days, and I’m A-OK with it.

Jeremy asks: How much has the launch angle change attributed to the higher hard-hit rate (is this the same as barrel%?) and does this seem more sustainable than one would imagine for 32 year old Cameron Maybin?

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This is a great question, and one I suspect many readers have. First things first: hard-hit rate and barrel percentages are not the same, though they are related. Let’s get into this.

I usually get hard-hit percentages from FanGraphs, which collects this data from a proprietary formula developed by Baseball Info Solutions. What we do know, though, is that it’s calculated by hang time, trajectory, and location. It does not factor in raw exit velocity and it does not necessarily correlate to success on the field. It’s a lot like spin-rate and velocity for pitchers: it is an important piece of the puzzle, but not an end-all, be-all.

Barrel percentage (and barrels more broadly), on the other hand, come from Statcast and do correlate to on-field success. A barrel is what happens when a player hits the ball with the combination of exit velocity and launch angle [that] generally leads to a minimum .500 batting average and 1.500 slugging percentage.” I could get wonkier, but I won’t. In other words, it relies on exit velocity and launch angle and is calculated based on results. It’s another piece of the puzzle.

Now, this is all interesting as it relates to Maybin. He’s 32, and we generally know what type of player he is–as much as I love him, he’s probably not going to maintain this production in the long-term. It usually doesn’t work like that. Not to mention, he’s not one of those hidden gems who has always pounded the ball into the ground. His exit velocity rates and hard-hit rates have always been below average.

But, if you want to be optimistic, Maybin and hitting coach Marcus Thames have adjusted his swing a bit–the Yankees love these analytics–to try to increase his power, so there could be a concrete reason here. All I know is that Maybin is hitting the ball harder now than he ever has in his career before. He’s not lucking his way into this production. He’s genuinely crushing the ball.

I love Maybin and hope he keeps it up, but I think we should all just be glad that Maybin has contributed like he has. Even if he slows down, those at-bats have been real, they’ve helped the Yankees in a time of need, and we can’t take them back.

Andrew asks: Given the club’s stringent adherence to giving everyone their proper rest, I was shocked to see Gary back behind the plate for Wednesday’s matinee against Tampa. Not only was it a day game after a night game, but Tuesday was a particularly late night game due to the lengthy rain delay. What gives? When was the last time Gary started behind the plate in a similar situation? I’m thrilled he did get the nod, as he hit a 3 run jack shortly before I typed this. Thanks!

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I’m not entirely sure how I could look this up without looking at the game logs manually, so I’m going to opt-out of part one of this question. I don’t know when the last time he got a day game after a night game (let alone a super late one), but it’s definitely rare. I know this because you can see day game/night game splits, and, to nobody’s surprise, Gary has way more at-bats at night. That’s because there are more night games, sure, but it’s also because I assume he gets the day game off a lot, too.

Anyway, here are the splits:

  • Night Games: .272/.346/.544 (.891 OPS) in 207 games
  • Day Games: .220/.308/.511 (.819 OPS) in 108 games

For what it’s worth–it’s almost certainly not worth anything–Gary is a much better hitter at night, even if he’s still absurd for a catcher in day games, too. But still, about twice as many games at night than the day. I’m all for the Yanks protecting Gary and giving him the rest he deserves, as catching is insanely grueling, but I’m never going to complain when he’s in the lineup. He’s absurdly good, and his backup, the for-some-reason beloved Austin Romine, is useless.

Mark asks: I know he barely has gotten his feet wet in Double A, but is there any chance Deivi Garcia could help the Yankees’ rotation this year? Double A to the bigs is a tough jump, but it’s been done before. I’m probably dreaming off his 15-K game, I know.

I love me some Deivi Garcia. He’s my favorite prospect to follow in a long time. How could he not be? I know I’ve tweeted or shared this GIF like 5,600 times, but I mean come on:

Wonky alert, but: that CB has a 2,900 spin rate. That’s so good!

His numbers (check out sidebar) are just absurd this year, and he’s so, so young. He’s only 20 and he’s carving up AA batters like butter. It’s just phenomenal. Long story short, you’re not crazy or dreaming to think he could get a MLB shot in 2019. You’re not. Especially when rosters expand, he could be a candidate to get a cup of water in the bigs as a reliever.

Howevah, I wouldn’t bet on it. The Yankees are, to their credit, exceptionally cautious with their prospects, and since Deivi is only 20, my guess is that they protect him and keep him away from MLB batters for now. But hey, you never know: they could give him an inning against the Orioles and still keep him away from MLB hitters, so who knows.

Paul asks: How did Deivi Garcia’s amazing 15 strikeout game clinch the playoffs? Isn’t the season 3 more months?

Another great question here. The Eastern League, the league in which Trenton plays, made a major switch this season to be a split-season league. What that means, in other words, is that the divide the season in half and award postseason spots based on performance in each half of the season. The teams in first place in the Eastern and Western division after day 76 are awarded a spot in the playoffs in September, and Deivi’s fantastic start clinched that for Trenton.

Now, the division will “restart”, and whichever team wins the division in the second half will be granted a playoff spot. If Trenton wins it again, then the second slot would be given to whichever non-Trenton team in the division had the best record over the full season. Confusing? A bit! But hey, whatever. Let’s just hope Trenton keeps rolling.