.272/.334/.518, 21 HR, 64 RBI, 2 SB, 121 wRC+, 2.2 fWAR
Tyler Herb had a 9.95 ERA in his first three starts for the AA Bowie Baysox this year, but the Baltimore Orioles being the Baltimore Orioles, they promoted him to AAA Norfolk anyway. Maybe they just saw him as roster filler, or maybe they liked his 14 strikeouts and only 4 walks in 12.2 innings, or maybe they just needed another pitcher in Norfolk to address whatever depth issues arose, but they ignored the 14 earned runs (16 total runs) in those almost 13 innings, and up he went, making his first start in the International League on April 28.
Herb spent the next three months in Norfolk, and things didn’t go much better for him there. In 76.2 innings, he gave up 66 runs (61 earned), striking out 63 and walking 37. The juiced dingerball curse that struck AAA with a vengeance hit him too, as in those less than 80 innings, he gave up 20 home runs. It was an ugly stretch for him, and on July 28, he was back in Bowie, starting again in AA. He had a perfectly fine start that day, giving up 2 runs in 6 innings to the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, striking out 5, walking 3, and earning a win.
At the end of play on July 28, Mike Yastrzemski, the man the Orioles traded away for Herb during Spring Training, was hitting .275/.322/.505 in 200 plate appearances for the Giants.
Mike Yastrzemski was the big success story of the 2019 Giants season. Coming into the year, we all had a pretty good sense that the team would not compete for a playoff spot, but if they could find one or two guys who could come out of nowhere to be contributors, that would be a nice head start for the next good Giants team. And voila, here was Mike Yastrzemski, coming out of nowhere and contributing, and looking like he’d be around for years to come.
That’s what the team needed. That’s what the team found.
Now, obviously there is one baseball player who people can’t help thinking about when they hear Mike Yastrzemski’s name. That is, of course, Connor Joe.
Oh fine, it’s Tyler Herb, who-
YOU: You already talked about him
(Sighs deeply and dramatically)
Yastrzemski is the grandson of Red Sox Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski, and considering his legendary surname, it was real hard to not think about Carl when Mike was at the plate. At least, the first few times, it was.
But the year wore on, and, aside from the series in Boston, it got pretty easy to not think about Yaz Classic. Mike Yastrzemski was doing something good every day, and making the Giants look like they had an exciting youngish player. He wasn’t Carl’s Grandson Mike, Who Coincidentally Is Also A Professional Baseball Player. He was Mike, Whose At Bats You Looked Forward To, Unlike The Rest Of This Godforsaken Team.
Considering the legacy he had to overcome to get there, standing on his own two feet was a hell of an accomplishment.
Role on the 2019 team
Mike Yastrzemski was the most valuable hitter on the 2019 Giants. Going by Fangraphs, he was more valuable than the second and third most valuable hitters combined, and he wasn’t too far away from sneaking number four in there too. Sure, a lot of that is because of injury, but on the other hand: Those guys got injured. Those guys regressed. Yastrzemski didn’t, and that’s worth a lot.
Plus, he only had one bad month. He was worth watching pretty much all season, and there aren’t a lot of 2019 Giants you can say that about. Here’s a table showing what kind of year he had, month by month:
Mike Yastrzemski month by month
The only hiccup there is June. May, July, and August are nearly identical in terms of wRC+ and wOBA, and September isn’t far behind. In September, he was actually carrying the offense as much as he could carry an entire offense, which is to say not much, because an offense is heavy
Regardless of the team’s lack of success, Mike Yastrzemski was fun to watch all year. He was, if not a phoenix rising out of the ashes of the 2019 Giants, at least the guy who kept putting wood on the dying embers. Hey, someone’s got to try to keep this thing alive, right?
Role on the 2020 team
Starting outfielder. Yastrzemski established himself as a solid regular in 2019, and there’s no reason to think that’ll change heading into 2020. For a while now, the Giants have been desperately in need of stability in the outfield. With the consistency that Yastrzemski has showed since getting called up, he has a good shot at being that stability. Next year will be his age 29 season, so he’s not as young as most rookie sensations, but still, there’s no reason to think the Giants will do anything but start him.
How Farhan is Mike Yastrzemski?
4 out of 4 Farhans!
It was a close call between 4 Farhans and 3.5 Farhans, as Yastrzemski does not play the infield, so he isn’t a super-utility man, and doesn’t have the greatest walk rate. But those are nitpicks. This year, Mike Yastrzemski was a 28-year-old rookie with options remaining, plucked from obscurity, who could play all three outfield positions and made the league minimum. That’s just too Farhan of a player to sully the rating with piddling details. Four Farhans.