The New York Yankees made three large financial commitments at each of their starting outfield spots this offseason. And so far this year, the strong play of Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Brett Gardner has made those hefty payments look like money well spent.
After getting little offensive production from their outfield in 2013, the Yankees’ lineup has been powered by their three starting outfielders in early 2014.
The threesome has been solid at the plate and in the field, and their efforts have helped the pinstripes jump out into first place in the AL East.
After winning his second World Series title with the Boston Red Sox in 2013, Ellsbury decided to sign a seven-year, $153 million deal this offseason with the rival Yankees back in December.
The speedy center fielder was sat out the third game of the season against the Houston Astros, but has been on fire ever since. He ranks third in the American League in batting average, with an average of .364. He also leads the AL in stolen bases, with seven steals already this year.
Ellsbury has also proven to be very versatile, and he has done very well for the club since being moved to the number three spot in the lineup after middle of the order bat Mark Teixeira went down with a strained right hamstring.
After the Yankees missed out on signing Shin-Soo Choo over the offseason, they were able to recruit Beltran to come play right field in the Bronx, with a three-year $45 million offer.
Beltran found himself getting off to a rough start, but has come around in a big way as of late. The former St. Louis Cardinals‘ outfielder has hit four home runs in his last eight games, and is fourth in the AL in slugging percentage.
The 36-year-old outfielder has already shown his knack for playing well on the big stage. He had six hits, two home runs and four RBIs in the team’s recent four game set against the Red Sox. Gardner was the subject of trade rumors all offseason, after the signing of Ellsbury made him seem like an expendable piece. But, this spring the Yankees instead decided to reward his strong 2013 season with a four-year, $52 million extension.
Now in his seventh year with the club, Gardner looks poised to have another productive season. His defense has been once again strong, and he has done well in the leadoff spot for the Yankees this year.
Gardner has already gotten a hit in 12 different games, and ranks eighth in the AL in Wins Above Replacement, with a WAR of 0.8.
The key for this outfield trio will of course be their health. But, if Ellsbury, Beltran and Gardner can stay on the field, then the Yankees can feel very good about their three offseason investments in the players.