After a disappointing season at the plate in 2016, the Yankees earned back the nickname Bronx Bombers in 2017. Maybe that should be Baby Bombers.
Here are some Yankees offensive stats with AL and MLB ranks...
Individually, there were a handful of exceptional performances, a few surprises and some disappointments in 2017. Let's review the contributors in order from highest to lowest plate appearances.
Brett Gardner slashed .264/.350/.428 with 96 runs and a career-high 21 home runs -- all from the leadoff spot. In all, Gardner did exactly what the Yankees required and unlike recent seasons, Gardner never suffered a severe downturn. However, he managed a dismal .608 OPS in the playoffs. Gardner continued to be a stud with the glove, turning in 17 defensive runs saved in left field and another three in center field.
Aaron Judge went from question to make the team to its best player. Judge's 52 home runs, 114 RBI, 128 runs, and 1.049 OPS (171 OPS+) put the enormous right fielder into the conversation for the American League MVP Award. Judge slumped after the All-Star break and his high strikeout rate became the focal point, despite the fact that he continued to draw walks (127). He was not only a dangerous hitter, but was among the better defensive right fielders in the game (nine DRS). In the postseason, Judge hit .188 with 27 strikeouts, but slammed four home runs.
Besides a disastrous May, Chase Headley finished the season with a .273/.352/.406 slash line (100 OPS+), 30 doubles, 12 home runs and 62 RBI. He moved from third base to first base when the team acquired Todd Frazier from the White Sox in July. Headley handled first base well considering his inexperience (zero DRS) in 45 games, after -7 DRS while manning third base. He finished the postseason going 7-for-15 after an 0-for-15 start.
Didi Gregorius turned in a career year, establishing career highs in runs (73) home runs (25), RBI (87), AVG (.287), SLG (.478) and OPS+ (106) in 136 games. He was often a catalyst and finished the season hitting predominantly in the Yankees' clean-up spot. Gregorius made some exceptional plays in the field and improved his DRS mark (+1). He hit some big home runs in the postseason, including two in ALDS Game 5, and put up a .845 OPS overall.
Many questioned what to expect from Gary Sanchez after hitting 20 home runs in the final two months of the 2016 season. He was fantastic at the plate in 2017 with 33 home runs and 90 RBI in 525 plate appearances (he missed one month of the season). Unfortunately, Sanchez racked up 16 passed balls and while he seemed to improve slightly as the season progressed, he had some poor defensive efforts in the postseason. He hit three homers in the postseason, but managed a disappointing .608 OPS.
Starlin Castro suffered through two lengthy stints on the disabled list, playing in 112 games. While he was in the lineup, Castro improved upon his 2016 performance, slashing .300/.338/.454 (106 OPS+) with 16 home runs and 63 RBI. Castro's issues continued in the field (-6 DRS). In the postseason, he struggled, notching 11 hits in 50 at-bats (.220) and a dismal .554 OPS.
The Yankees signed Matt Holliday to be the club's designated hitter to provide production in the middle of the order and mentor the younger hitters. He succeeded in both respects, though his performance disintegrated after falling ill in the second half of the season. In all, Holliday hit 19 home runs, drove in 64 runs and registered a .748 OPS (95 OPS+). He accumulated three at-bats (zero hits) in the postseason.
During an injury-plagued season, Jacoby Ellsbury showed glimpses of his former self, but inconsistency continues to hinder the overall results. In 409 plate appearances, he hit .264 with a .348 OBP and .402 SLG (97 OPS+; his highest mark since 2014). Ellsbury swiped 22 bases in 25 attempts, but his defense was below average (-3 DRS). He was seldom used in the postseason, going hitless in nine at-bats.
Aaron Hicks turned in his finest MLB season, smashing 15 home runs and driving in 52 runs in only 361 plate appearances (88 games). After taking over the center field job, he had injuries derail his season (two DL stints for oblique strains to both sides). Hicks was very good in the outfield (12 DRS in center and 3 DRS in left field). In the postseason, Girardi stuck with Hicks, but the 27-year-old could not get on track, hitting .196 in 46 at-bats.
Ronald Torreyes received more playing time than many expected and he performed well enough for a utility man. He hit .292, but his OPS+ was a mere 81. Torreyes did manage to notch a few clutch hits during the season and was an average defensive player, covering second base most often. Torreyes was on the playoff rosters, but received just one at-bat.
Austin Romine was respectable when Sanchez was on the shelf and finished the season with career-highs in games played (80) and plate appearances (252). However, he was a complete drain at the plate (41 OPS+). And while considered a defensive catcher, he cost the team three defensive runs.
Todd Frazier took over third base and became a catalyst in the dugout and clubhouse. He was pretty good with the bat too, slamming 11 home runs in his 194 at-bats with the Yanks to go with a 107 OPS+. Frazier was an upgrade at third base as well, saving six runs in his short time with the club. In the postseason, Frazier grabbed eight hits in 47 at-bats, but he hit a big home run in the ALCS.
Greg Bird played the first month of the season injured, which led to Chris Carter receiving the most plate appearances at first base of any Yankee. Carter was eventually designated for assignment after putting up a 71 OPS+ with 76 strikeouts in 204 plate appearances. Bird finally returned in late-August after recuperating from ankle surgery and he crushed eight home runs down the stretch. He showed improved defense (zero DRS) from his call-up effort in 2015 (-2 DRS). Bird's impressive offensive production continued in the postseason (.938 OPS with three home runs).
Finally, the Yankees saw a few rookies get some action -- OF Clint Frazier (4 HR, 17 RBI in 134 AB), IF Tyler Wade (9-for-58), OF Tyler Austin (2 HR, 8 RBI in 40 AB), and 1B Garrett Cooper (113 OPS+ in 43 PA).