When asked last week about outfielder Vernon Wells’ recent struggles at the plate, New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi stressed that he was not worried, and that Wells shouldn’t be either, saying: “He’ll come out of it. I’m not concerned about that.”
Fast forward to Wednesday, and after a surprisingly successful April and early May, Wells has been stuck in a serious slump. On May 15th Wells’ average was .301. As of June 5th, it has dropped dramatically to .240.
Wells is hitless in his five games of June, and has hit just .088 (3 for 34) over his last ten games. Though he was one of the home run and RBI leaders through mid May, he has not logged a homer since the 15th and has only two RBI in that same time span.
Should Girardi and the Yankees be worried? It isn’t mere coincidence that the Yanks lost nine of 12 games recently with scarily low run production during Wells’ slump. If it wasn’t for the return of Mark Teixeira and players like Brett Gardner stepping up, the Yankees might not have secured the sweep of the Cleveland Indians.
There have been some theories suggesting that Wells might be feeling the effects of playing everyday. At 34, and playing only 77 games last season, perhaps he is tired and it is affecting his ability at the plate.
Whatever the reason, the Yankees might want to be a little concerned that one of the main contributors to the team’s early success has fallen utterly flat as of late. And with Curtis Granderson still weeks away from returning to the lineup, the Yankees will have to rely on Wells to get out of his slump and start making some real contact with the ball again.
Wells is a veteran player and a professional hitter, but the longer a player slumps, the more mental it can become. Obviously he will not continue hitting under .100 forever. He will eventually snap out of whatever has been plaguing him, and hopefully he will return to his earlier form and stay successful in pinstripes.
While Wells seemed impervious at the beginning of the season, he is now a liability at the plate, and if it goes on much longer, Girardi and the Yankees might start to worry a little.