Mike Tauchman was one of last year’s many pleasant surprises. He was nothing short of stellar when thrust into regular playing time, and once again this year, he’s playing everyday because of more injuries. But that .277/.361/.504 (128 wRC+) batting line from 2019 is nowhere to be found. Not even close, in fact. Tauchman has basically become a singles hitter. This season, the 29 year-old has hit .261/.354/.333 (86 wRC+). He’s one of the many batters in the Yankees’ lineup struggling this season.
This version of Tauchman isn’t necessarily abnormal. He’s done the no power thing before while in Colorado’s minor league system. In 2015 and 2016, Tauchman hit four homers in 1,090 plate appearances between Double-A and Triple-A. He found power in 2017 and 2018 in Triple-A, perhaps the reason why he caught the Yankees’ eye for a trade early last year. Unfortunately, that pop has gone missing once again.
It’s painfully clear what’s going wrong for the lefty-swinging Tauchman thus far. This year, it seems like Tauchman’s only successes are when he dunks a flare into shallow left field for a base hit:
You can count how many balls he’s pulled into right field on one hand. Lefty friendly Yankee Stadium was a match made in heaven for Tauchman last summer, but he’s no longer taking advantage of the short porch. Granted, Tauchman went to left field a good amount last year too, but he also was able to pull the ball for power:
With those spray charts in mind, it probably won’t surprise you to see Tauchman down in various metrics year-over-year:
|Avg. Exit Velo||88.7||85.6|
|Hard Hit %||38.9||29.2|
None of that is good. He’s not hitting the ball nearly as hard as last year, he’s beating the ball into the ground, and he’s whiffing more often. As a result, his expected slugging percentage has cratered:
It sure looks like hitting coach Marcus Thames has his work cut out for him here. The main issue, at least in my mind: Thames and Tauchman need to figure out what happened to the outfielder’s ability to pull the ball. Until he’s able to get out in front of the baseball, it’s hard to imagine his power returning. And that’s a big problem while Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton remain sidelined, because there’s nowhere to hide Tauchman at this point. There’s no one left to turn to in place of Tauchman.
Seeing Tauchman struggle makes yesterday’s fruitless trade deadline all the more frustrating. At the moment, the Yankees are left hoping that a lot of things break in their favor: from injured players returning and staying healthy to guys like Tauchman figuring things out. Sure would have been nice to add a reinforcement or two in addition to waiting and hoping for the rest to get back or turn things around. It’s too late for that now, though.