For the first time in well over a year, Yankee Stadium will open its gates to a full-capacity crowd this weekend. The Yankees announced on Tuesday that they received approval from the state, city, and Major League Baseball to resume normal seating on Friday, June 18 against the Oakland Athletics.
But the Yankees haven't been the hottest ticket in town. Entering Thursday, they're a third-place team -- 35-32 overall -- seven games back of first in the AL East and four games back of a wild card spot. New York has lacked power at the plate, timely hitting, and fundamental soundness. And Yankees play-by-play voice Michael Kay believes the team isn't properly constructed for 2021.
"This team is built to do one thing, and that's hit home runs. And when they don't hit home runs, they're going to lose games," Kay told The DA Show on Thursday. "Because they don't have the ability to create runs, they don't run the bases well. It's really unlikely to see them string together four of five hits in a row. And the way they win is the way they won yesterday: Gary Sanchez comes off the bench and hits a two-run home run. And for the first, I'd say 50-some-odd games of the year, they just weren't hitting home runs the way they're built to hit home runs.
"Of late, they're starting to do that. But now they're pitching hasn't been as good. So, it's going to be a little bit of a struggle unless they hit home runs at record pace... I think they are poorly constructed for the way the game has evolved -- especially before they took away the sticky stuff. Pitching was dominant, which meant that it was really hard to hit home runs, which kind of left them naked. So, they're a completely right-handed lineup. There's only a few lefties in the lineup or even on the roster, so it gives [manager Aaron] Boone very little maneuverability. There's no speed, so he can't do anything.
"I laugh when people blame Aaron Boone. He really can't create a run. He can't hit-and-run because the guys swing and miss too much. This is a high-strikeout, high-walk, supposedly high-home run team. So, all of those things combined, it's not a great 2021 team. Maybe it would've worked in 2019, when home runs were flying out of the ballpark. But right now, you can say it's poorly constructed. And the headscratcher: they run the bases so poorly. They've made 31 outs on the bases, and the average major league team, well, they make 18. So, that tells you how bad they've been."
Through 67 games, the Yankees rank 20th overall in batting average (.233), 12th in home runs (84), and 27th RBI (239), and 28th in average with runners in scoring position (.218). They also lead MLB in total outs on the bases (31), outs at home plate (13), and double plays (65).
According to FiveThirtyEight, New York is currently projected to finish the regular season in third place, with an 88-74 record. They have a 41-percent chance to reach the postseason, a 10-percent chance to win the division, and a 4-percent chance to win the World Series for the first time since 2009.
The entire Yankees-MLB conversation between Kay and DA can be accessed in the audio player above.