October 22, 2020

Austin Kearns And His Yankee Role

With the Yankees officially shutting down Nick Johnson for the season, basically ending his New York career, Austin Kearns’ role just got a bit bigger.

Mainly being used as the first outfielder of the bench, Kearns also spell Curtis Granderson against tough lefties. On a bench devoid of a homerun threat when Lance Berkman’s in the lineup, the big bat of 6’4 righty allows the Yankees to introduce power in late inning scenarios.

Although a right-hander, Kearns hits righty pitching statistically better this year (.286 to .264) than left-handers. Blessed with plate discpline, albeit not as strong as Johnson’s, Kearns has always been able to bring the threat of the long ball to every at-bat. Hampered by injuries in recent years, the former Cincinatti Red prospect has topped the 15-homerun plateau four times in his career reaching a high of 24 in ’06.

Switching between his platoon with Granderson and pinch-hitting duties, Kearns has been able to shake off a rough start to his Yankee career by racking up 5 RBIs in the past week. With two homers in limited duty the past month, the Yankees’ fourth outfielder has provided a presence in a lineup that has scored 9 runs or more four times this week.

As September approaches and legs tire out, the addition of Austin Kearns will be a boon for the Yankees down the stretch. In October as well, Kearns platoon role will help fortify a lineup of power hitters.