Obviously left field is the one glaring hole the Yankees have remaining, but how important is it that they fill it with anything close to a premium player? I’ve had several readers e-mail me pointing out that the Yankees got very little (relatively) from their left fielders during the dynasty championship years, so I decided to take a look at the numbers.
• In 1996, the Yankees left fielders hit a combined .265 with 25 HR, 98 RBI and a .789 OPS. Gerald Williams (42 starts), Tim Raines (47), Ruben Sierra (35) and Darryl Strawberry (25) were the primary players.
• In 1998, the Yankees left fielders hit a combined .263 with 15 HR, 74 RBI and a .760 OPS. Those numbers came primarily from Chad Curtis and Raines.
• In 1999, the Yankees left fielders hit a combined .234 with 19 HR, 63 RBI and a .710 OPS. That was mostly from the trio of Curtis, Rickey Ledee and Shane Spencer.
• And in 2000, the Yankees left fielders hit a combined .276 with 30 HR, 97 RBI and a .839 OPS, though it’s worth noting that much of that pop came from David Justice, who was a mid-season trade acquisition (Ledee and Spencer were the primary guys before that).
In other words, the Yankees have been here before. With an otherwise stacked lineup, the identity of the Opening Day left fielder may not be that important. We can – and will – debate about Brett Gardner or Reed Johnson or anyone else that may pop up, but in all likelihood that person won’t be what turns the Yankees season. The moves that matter most have probably already been made.