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Clint Frazier’s here to stay [2020 Season Review]

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The wait is over. Clint Frazier’s had a hard time sticking in the majors since the Yankees first brought him up in 2017, although not all of that was his fault. This season, Frazier left the Yankees with no choice but to play him everyday once he was called upon. Let’s take a look at Clint’s terrific season.

We’re not in Scranton anymore

Clint wasn’t free from Scranton to start the year, but once he made his way to the Bronx, there was no turning back. Frazier wasn’t brought up from the Alternate Site to the majors until August 11th, between the placement of Giancarlo Stanton (8/9) and Aaron Judge (8/14) on the injured list. It didn’t take long for Clint to make his presence felt. From his first game:

Frazier’s had opportunities with the Yankees a few times over the years — though some better than others — and has spent time at Triple-A each year since 2016. That’s a lot of time shuttling between the minors and majors over the past four years. Of course, a big part of that was the concussion he suffered in 2018 which undoubtedly threw off his trajectory.

Perhaps Clint deserved this shot sooner, but it’s better late than never. It was incredibly frustrating to watch a number of players go down due to injury this season, but the silver lining was Frazier’s breakout.

Hopefully not the end of Tanaka Time [2020 Season Review]

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Seven years flew by, huh? Masahiro Tanaka’s initial big league contract has come to an end, and what a success it was. Tanaka posted a 3.74 ERA (114 ERA+) in 1054 1/3 innings and was remarkably durable in spite of a partial UCL tear. Now, the Yankees are left with a big decision this offseason: re-sign the 32 year-old, or let him move on? Before we get to that, let’s break down the righty’s 2020 campaign.

Another strong season in spite of an inauspicious start

My goodness was that scary. Tanaka began the regular season on the injured list as he went through the league’s concussion protocol. Fortunately for him, his recovery went smoothly and he made his regular season debut on August 1st, just a little over a week after Opening Day.

Remarkably, Tanaka didn’t miss a beat. His first start was an abbreviated one against the Red Sox, but his second start was Tanaka at his best. He threw five one-hit innings against the Rays in Tampa Bay and struck out five batters.

Adam Ottavino has fallen short of expectations [2020 Season Review]

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Adam Ottavino was supposed to be yet another relief ace in the Yankees’ super bullpen. His regular season numbers in 2019 look terrific, but things began to go downhill toward the end of last season. Those troubles spilled over into 2020. The 34 year-old’s homecoming hasn’t gone as hoped. What happened?

One really bad outing

Ottavino gave up 12 runs in 18 1/3 innings this season, but half of those came in one outing against Toronto. On September 7th, the righty faced six batters and didn’t record a single out, capped by a Danny Jansen grand slam.

That performance was the difference between Ottavino ending his season with a 2.95 ERA and a 5.89 ERA. Now, that doesn’t mean this game doesn’t count or that Ottavino had some hidden good season. It happened and can’t be erased. But maybe we can acknowledge that the 34 year-old’s end of season numbers are a bit skewed.

Some of Ottavino’s underlying numbers are still quite good, even including that horrendous game in Buffalo. He still struck out 29.4 percent of hitters, a little below the 31.1 percent mark from 2019. He also walked 10.6 percent of opponents — not good in a vacuum — but good for Ottavino, who allowed 14.1 percent of hitters to reach base on balls last year and has always struggled with control.

Still, Buffalo outing or not, it’s tough to be satisfied with what Ottavino’s become for the Yankees. He came to the Bronx looking like one of the top relievers in the sport, but instead, he’s been relegated to middle inning work mostly. As I’ll touch on momentarily, he’s become almost useless against left-handed hitters and has fallen out of Aaron Boone’s circle of trust.

A step back for Gleyber Torres [2020 Season Review]

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Unfortunately, Gleyber Torres played a fairly big role in the Yankees’ disappointing 2020 campaign. Dreadful defense, a mediocre offensive performance (106 wRC+), and a brief injured list stint marred Gleyber’s third season in pinstripes. It was a far cry from what he had done in his age-21 and 22 seasons. Let’s break it down.

Where’d the power go?

After an impressive power display in each of his first two big league seasons, Torres couldn’t find his power stroke during the regular season in 2020. Last year, Gleyber swatted 38 dingers in 604 plate appearances and recorded a gaudy .256 isolated power. That came right after 24 dingers and a .209 isolated power in his rookie campaign. This year? 3 long balls in 160 trips to the plate and a .125 ISO.

We wrote about the 23 year-old’s offensive struggles on three separate occasions during the 60-game slate. He looked bad early on, continued to struggle into mid-August, and remained punchless in September. There were a number of things that were troubling which we addressed, including missing hittable pitches and being overly passive at the dish. Now that we have the entire season in the rearview mirror, we can take a more wholesome look at what went awry.

What on earth happened to Gary Sánchez? [2020 Season Review]

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What a nightmare. Not only did Gary Sánchez have the worst season of his career, but he was also one of the worst players in the league in 2020’s 60 game sprint. His once potent bat vanished and his catching left a lot to be desired. By postseason’s end, he wasn’t even number one on the depth chart. Let’s try to sort out the mess that was Gary’s disappointing campaign.

Power, but almost nothing else offensively

There’s simply no way to sugar coat a batting line of .147/.253/.365 (69 wRC+). That’s what Sánchez did in 178 plate appearances this season. After showing so much potency with the bat in 2016, 2017, and even last year, this is now two out of the last three years where Gary has been downright bad offensively. Remember, he hit under the Mendoza line in 2018 as well, though he did muster a 91 wRC+ that season.

As dreadful as Sánchez was this season, he still hit for power and drew a decent amount of free passes. Sánchez hit 10 homers, posted a .218 isolated power, and recorded a 10.1 percent walk rate. The problem? He struck out 36 percent of plate appearances and had a .159 BABIP. Just terrible.

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