Entering play Friday, there were 277 players in the majors who had averaged at least 2.1 plate appearances per game.

Statistically and essentially, Austin Wells ranked 277th in luck.

One-half of the Yankees’ catching tandem entered play with an .097 batting average and an expected batting average — a calculation that takes into account how hard a ball is hit, its trajectory and the hitter’s speed — of .256.
Yankees catcher Austin Wells, attempting a bunt earlier in the season, has struggled at the plate thus far this season.Yankees catcher Austin Wells, attempting a bunt earlier in the season, has struggled at the plate thus far this season.Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post
No hitter in baseball could match the negative-.159 difference between the actual and expected batting averages.

“That seems fair,” said Wells, who did not play in the Yankees’ 5-3 win over the Rays in The Bronx.

Wells’ first full major league season has begun with praise on the defensive end, mostly strong at-bats and plenty of frustration.

He is in a time-share with Jose Trevino (who got the start Friday), Yankees catchers entering play with the fifth-worst OPS among catching groups in the majors.

There is potential for the Yankees’ group — Trevino a 2022 All-Star, Wells well-regarded in the minors for his offensive game — to emerge as an offensive strength, but Wells’ fortune will have to turn first.

The peripherals on Wells, who came up through the system as a bat-first catcher, remain strong.
Austin Wells (left) congratulates closer Clay Holmes after a Yankees' win earlier in the season.Austin Wells (left) congratulates closer Clay Holmes after a Yankees’ win earlier in the season.USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Entering play, he had walked (seven times) more than he had struck out (six times), which boosted his on-base percentage to a more palatable .250.

He was not crushing the ball (an average exit velocity of 85.1 mph) but not creating much soft contact, either.

The contact has been consistent and consistently has found gloves.

“The majority of them have been quality at-bats,” Wells said. “I think the ball not falling on the grass or not getting through holes is definitely frustrating, but the process of the ABs has been good for what I’m trying to do and what I’m trying to improve on.

“I think it’ll definitely come.”

It is generally easier for veterans, who have proven themselves at the major league level and know when their at-bat quality is strong, to weather slumps.

Wells, a 24-year-old who debuted at the end of last season, still needs to prove he can hit at the big-league level.

But Wells said plenty of older players around the clubhouse have reinforced to him that he is working pitchers the right way and that “good things will happen.”

“I’m not trying to push or press in any way, but I definitely want to see results,” said Wells, who posted an .802 OPS with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre before last year’s promotion. “I feel like it’s a results-driven game, but to have success you kind of have to take that out of it and just trust the process.”

Wells began the season with two hits in two games and, since then, entered Friday in a 1-for-25 funk.

The stretch has included many at-bats like Wednesday’s in Toronto when he worked a 2-2 count against Kevin Gausman, got a splitter that hung up and smacked it up the middle — directly to the waiting glove of shortstop Bo Bichette.

In his previous start Monday, he forced Chris Bassitt into a full count and directed a well-struck fly ball right to Daulton Varsho in left field.

Wells, who has not brought frustrations to his defensive game and is ranked among the best at pitch-framing, shrugged it off.

“The only thing that I can focus on is the next AB,” Wells said. “For me, [it’s about] just going out there and doing that and trusting the process that I’ve built with the coaching staff over the last three, four months.

“Good things will come.”