In 2020, the Yankees infield defense will be an unfamiliar area. The best defensively skilled players have never really had a ton of opportunities playing together yet, and nobody knows the player’s actual ceilings as a whole.
Luke Voit is in the best shape of his life. Coming into the season, he is the frontrunner for the first base job, but is a considerable concern defensively. During his time with the Yankees, Voit has put up a -20 DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and a -9 OAA (Outs Above Average) in only 976.1 innings. Voit ranked 29th in DRS among first basemen who had at least 500 innings and ranked 38th among all first basemen who qualified for OAA. One way Voit can help fix this issue is by standing further away from the foul line. His OAA was one of the worst in the league when he stood really close to the line behind first. While this isn’t guaranteed to work, testing it out in spring training could get an idea on how fix his defense.
With DJ LeMahieu, the Yankees have an excellent defensive second baseman. Last season, LeMahieu had a career year and will look to build off of it. Although his main position is second base, last season he was forced to play at multiple positions. In 2018, LeMahieu had 14 DRS and 14 OAA. Most important thing for manager Aaron Boone to remember is that LeMahieu is best at second base and shouldn’t be played anywhere else if he doesn’t have to.
Gio Urshela should easily win the third base job as he is far better than Miguel Andujar defensively, and arguably offensively. He broke out in 2019 and was average defensively with a 1 DRS and a 0 OAA. While Urshela is only decent defensively, he looks like a defensive specialist compared to Andujar. In 2018, Andujar had a -21 DRS and a -11 OAA. Andujar is coming off of a significant injury and will be tested at other positions. Andujar will most likely never come close to Urshela’s defense and should not start at third over him.
Last, but certainly not least, is shortstop. All-Star Gleyber Torres is a lock to start at this position. He recently said that defense was a priority this offseason, and it is much needed. Throughout the last two seasons, Torres had a -3 DRS and a -7 OAA at shortstop. If he can improve to around a league-average defender and continue to improve his bat, he can become one of the best shortstops in franchise history.
If guys like Gleyber Torres and Luke Voit cannot take steps forward, the Yankees will need to make a move for a defensive maestro. With the bench expanding, they will likely carry at least one primary defensive replacement for the season.