The New York Yankees made a last-ditch attempt to win fans back Tuesday, with the team in the midst of a miserable season. The team announced it had released third baseman Josh Donaldson, who played in just 33 games due to various injuries this season.
Donaldson failed to endear himself to Yankees fans after the team traded for the former AL MVP prior to the 2022 season. Donaldson hit just .207/.293/.385 over 666 plate appearances with New York, including a .142 average in 2023.
His struggles made him an easy target for Yankees fans frustrated with the team’s performance this season. The Yankees entered the year with World Series hopes and instead find themselves in last place in the American League East at the end of August.
Donaldson, 37, is at least somewhat to blame for those struggles. While he still hit for power, he slashed just .142/.225/.434 in 120 plate appearances in 2023. He failed to stay on the field and missed time due to both calf and hamstring injuries.
Despite those struggles, Donaldson received consistent playing time in June and July. He was a constant presence in the lineup as the team’s season fell apart. The Yankees went 11-12 in June and followed that with a 10-15 record in July. Donaldson played in 28 games between June 2 and July 15.
The team’s willingness to wait out struggling players isn’t limited to Donaldson. The Yankees received plenty of criticism for allowing first baseman Anthony Rizzo to play through concussion-like symptoms. Rizzo was eventually placed on the injured mist more than two months after colliding with Fernando Tatis Jr. at first base. The team has also stuck by starter Luis Severino, who has a 6.64 ERA in 17 starts.
Those three players aren’t fully to blame for the team’s struggles — the front office and coaching staff deserve scorn for the way the team was built and deployed — but they do provide a look into why the Yankees have been one of baseball’s major disappointments in 2023.