Stanton plays his correct position
With Judge in Flushing, who ends up playing right field during the 2017-19 seasons and beyond? Let’s start from the beginning.
Instead of Judge getting his call up in 2016, another prospect would’ve taken his place to hit back-to-back home runs with Austin, in their first career at-bats, during a win against Tampa Bay. In this “What If” version, the Yankees still trade Andrew Miller to the Cleveland Indians. A trade where they received a young outfielder named Clint Frazier.
The New York Yankees would’ve headed into 2017 with an outfield of Brett Gardner in left field, Jacoby Ellsbury in centerfield, and Aaron Hicks in right field. They still lose to the Houston Astros in seven games and follow that up by trading for Giancarlo Stanton from Miami to boost their offense.
Now heading into 2018, the outfield would be Gardner-Hicks-Stanton. They would also have Frazier in the event someone got hurt.
The most significant difference with not having Judge is that Stanton isn’t forced to play left field. In this scenario, he never leaves right field. Stanton continued to have a good season in 2019, and since he isn’t forced to play out of position, he doesn’t get hurt nearly as much as he did in reality.
In the real world, New York acquired outfielder Mike Tauchman from Colorado, as insurance due to all the Yanks injuries. But in the “What If” version, Tauchman is never a Yankee. He never gets traded since there wasn’t as much need for depth. The outfield was healthy, and in the event, someone got hurt, Frazier was already there ready to prove himself.
This could potentially be a huge loss for the Bombers because Tauchman showed signs during his 87 games in pinstripes last year that he’s an excellent major league player. He might even end up being better than Frazier.