I wasn’t upset when Mike Tauchman made the Yankees’ Opening Day roster. It didn’t bother me that someone who became a Yankee six days before the start of the season was going to take the place of Tyler Wade on the roster, given that Wade had done close to nothing during his time in the majors. I figured Tauchman would only be used in case of an emergency, and because the Yankees told us Aaron Hicks would only miss the first three games of the season and would return on April 1, Tauchman might not even appear in a game for the Yankees.
But Hicks didn’t come back for the fourth game of the season on April 1 (he didn’t come back until the 42nd game of the season on May 15), and on the day of the fourth game of the season, the Yankees placed Giancarlo Stanton on the injured list. Suddenly, Tauchman wasn’t a guy who could tell future generations of Tauchmans about getting to wear the pinstripes for a few days, he had become an everyday player.
Tauchman appeared in the next six games, going 2-for-12 with five strikeouts in four starts. Beginning on April 13, he would appear in 27 of the Yankees’ 29 games, batting .217/.316/.422 with four home runs and 13 RBIs. He was in the starting lineup nearly every game for a team with championship aspirations, while other actual everyday players continued to receive unnecessary rest. On the same day Hicks made his 2019 debut, Tauchman was in the lineup for both games of the doubleheader against the Orioles. But Tauchamn was sent down after the doubleheader sweep, and I thought I had seen the last of him as a Yankee. Tauchman reappeared a month later, playing in three mid-June games against the White Sox before being sent back down, and once again I thought I had seen the last of him as a Yankee.
Then with Stanton going back on the injured list prior to the Yankees’ two-game series in London, coupled with the team being allowed to increase their roster size for the trip, it seemed like the perfect opportunity for the Yankees to recall Clint Frazier and give him everyday at-bats in the majors. Instead, in what was a surprising decision, the Yankees chose Tauchman over Frazier to travel to Europe, citing his defensive abilities as the reason.
Tauchman went hitless in two at-bats in London to lower his line on the season to .208/.300/.387. Defense aside, the Yankees were keeping a 24-year-old outfielder with an .843 OPS in Triple-A, choosing to roster a 28-year-old outfielder with a .687 OPS. While it was frustrating to see Frazier waste away in Triple-A where he had nothing left to prove, the decision to bring call up Tauchman over him seemed like a two-game decision which would be righted prior to the Yankees’ return to North America for the second part of the Subway Series. Upon their return, though, Tauchman remained with the Yankees and Frazier remained with the RailRiders.
The first few days of July went by without Frazier replacing Tauchman on the roster and with Tauchman not playing at all. But Tauchman was back in the starting lineup in Tampa on July 4, and that’s when everything changed.
In 16 games in July, Tauchman hit .423/.474/.750 with six doubles, a triple, three home runs and 13 RBIs. He was playing all three outfield positions and his middle-of-the-order-like bat had become a force at the bottom of the lineup. He put together three, three-hit games in the span of week, including one in the series opener against his former Rockies. He even added a home run in the series finale against the Rockies at the Stadium, showing his previous organization what they had given up on. He finished his breakout month with a two-run home run against the Diamondbacks on July 31 and scored the tying run in the eventual win after hitting a two-out double in the bottom of the seventh.
Tauchman’s hot streak (sorry for using that phrase since Aaron Boone and the Yankees don’t believe in hot streaks) has continued into August where he’s 6-for-12, following his three-hit, two-home run game against the Orioles on Monday night. He’s now batting a ridiculous .294/.368/.541 on the season after going from emergency outfield organizational depth to fourth outfielder to everyday player to having fans forget all about Frazier.
I know it’s hard to believe, but I haven’t always been a Tauchman fan, though it would take speaking with someone in Tauchman’s family or the biggest Yankees homer in the world to find someone who has always been a fan of his. Throughout the season, I have written and tweeted some less-than-positive things about Tauchman like …
Mike Tauchman is batting sixth tonight. In a Major League Baseball game. For the New York Yankees.
Mike Tauchman and Tyler Wade wake up in the morning as New York Yankees, travel in luxury, make an incredible salary, receive meal stipends, have full benefits for life and are working toward service time pension. What a life.
The Yankees have already exhausted their depth and batting Tyler Wade and Mike Tauchman is basically the equivalent of playing shorthanded in a Central Park softball league and having to take automatic outs at the end of the batting order.
I hope the nerd who recommended acquiring Mike Tauchman is now working in the mailroom.
The Yankees are in London and Clint Frazier is in Triple-A. The Yankees have decided using Brett Gardner as an everyday player, which has gone as bad as expected this season, and letting Mike Tauchman, who doesn’t belong in the majors, serve as the fourth outfielder is better than having Frazier on the roster.
The best day of the week is when Mike Tauchman plays for the New York Yankees while Clint Frazier doesn’t.
I even wrote this fake Old Timers’ Day introduction about him for 2029:
John Sterling: “This next player became a Yankee in 2019 following a trade a week before the season to give the team depth and outfield insurance. Injuries forced him on to the Opening Day roster and despite being a career .153 hitter, he was batting sixth by the fifth game of the season and batting fifth in the third week of the season. Manager Aaron Boone quickly fell in love with his ability to strike out, pop up and weakly roll over ground balls to the right side as he would play in nearly all of the team’s first 40 games of the season, while regular everyday players continued to get extra rest. Please welcome back, Mike Tauchman!” (Stadium organ plays)
But for all the negative things I said about Tauchman, on April 20, I did tweet: Is Mike Tauchman Luke Voit 2.0? So even if my optimism about Tauchman’s future was brief, it still existed at some point.
Brian Cashman and his team once again found another diamond in the rough with seemingly everyday-playing capabilities, and it cost them nothing, the same way it cost them nothing to acquire Hicks, Voit and Gio Urshela. When it comes to position players, Cashman should no longer be doubted. (Pitchers, on the other hand, are a much different story.)
I would like to apologize to the nerd who recommended acquiring Tauchman and hope he’s not working in the mailroom. More importantly, I would like to apologize to Tauchman as he’s been an important part of the 2019 Yankees. (I can’t believe I wrote that.)
My book The Next Yankees Era: My Transition from the Core Four to the Baby Bombers is available!