The first base is a position of strength for the Yankees for almost as long as I can remember. I was a little too young to remember Don Mattingly, but I basically saw the team move from Tino Martinez to Jason Giambi to Mark Teixeira without a lot of trouble. Like many others, I thought Greg Bird would be next after a remarkable debut in 2015, but it's now a distant memory. He has a lot of work to do for Luke Voit, who is virtually out of nowhere last summer and dominated.
Voit could become Teixeira's long-term successor, even though there were still a few seasons left between the two pinstripe quarries. This does not mean that all hope is lost for Bird, despite the lack of strokes and the many injuries suffered in recent years. His career is still young, but Voit can have Wally Pipped him. There is technically an open competition for the post at the camp, but Voit certainly has a length in advance.
Can they coexist?
Even though Bird and Voit form a natural platoon based on their abilities, Aaron Boone does not expect this season. Both players have options and can be sent to Triple-A. The loser of the first goal competition this spring could be for Scranton. Of course, Voit's job is to lose, and that's understandable. He killed him last summer after trading while Bird was struggling. The reception has made it clear that she has been enjoying Voit for some time as well.
If a platoon is not in play, there is only one way to put them in the same alignment. One could play first while the other could be the designated hitter. To do this, Giancarlo Stanton should play on the left field, which means that Brett Gardner would be on the bench. This would essentially make Gardner a full-time bench player, as such an alignment would likely be against the right-handed pitchers. Gardner is really mean against left-handed, so it's not like it makes sense to play against left-handed when Bird is sitting.
It may not be bad for Gardner to assume the role of fourth full-time full-time player, but it would actually force Bird to resurface (and Sees to maintain production). Bird has already started well this spring, but do not take our lead right away. In all likelihood, one of the first two players will be in the opening day of Triple A. My money is on Bird heading there.
The last bird's breath?
Since the 2015 season is over, little has been good for Bird. A shoulder operation cost him his 2016 campaign. The enthusiasm for his return in 2017 collapsed after he injured his ankle during an exhibition, which followed him throughout the year and detracted from its performance. At least we have this playoff game against Andrew Miller. 2018 was pretty much the same with injuries and poor performance. Bird is still 26 years old, but it's been a long time since he's still good.
As mentioned, Bird still has options so that he can (and probably will be) sent to miners at the beginning of the year. The Yankees have yet to make a decision about his future with the organization, although it's up to Bird to stay on the ground and hit. Not only for his chances of staying with the Yankees, but for other occasions in the league. If Voit is what he seems to be, Bird will not find the job, but he could impress another team enough to trade for him.
The Yankees can also afford to be patient with Bird. He has several options and can not refuse an assignment in a minor league because he misses five years of service. In a way, even though he feels like he has been there forever, he has accumulated just over three years of major league games. If the team wants to hang this season and beyond, it can. A little extended time in the miners this season could be good for Bird to regain confidence anyway.
And if Bird rakes in the grapefruit league? It has already started quickly. Although this will continue throughout next month, it will take other circumstances to put it on the list. As noted earlier, the alignment would be a challenge for both him and Voit in the formation, especially if a squad was not an option. In other words, he will have to hurt himself to start the season in the Bronx. Even though Voit struggles in the camp, it's hard to imagine that the Yankees are pronouncing on Voit about a mediocre spring.
Sees could be really, really good
I do not think anyone expects Voit to commission as he did after the deadline of last summer's transaction (187 wRC +), but he also does not seem to be dazzling. . The reception coveted Voit long before the transaction. His performances in the minor leagues have always been excellent and his underlying quality of contact statistics was remarkable. All he really needed was a chance to capitalize. The Yankees gave him that.
Statcast absolutely adores it, and I think it's safe to say that similar data has drawn the Yankees to him. He was in all rankings batting baseball last season. How about a visual proof? I know we're not supposed to read what's going on during spring training, but this home race against the Sunday Rays was pretty impressive.
I'm going to plunge into the screenings in a minute, but I must note that they do not see it as a coincidence. All systems have it as a hitter comfortably above average. One particular prediction thinks he's one of the best hitters in baseball. Looks like the Yankees knew what they were doing when they targeted it last summer.
Now there is always a chance that the league becomes Voit. Maybe it's really your classic Quad-A sladger that has run into a series of successes at the big league level. Men who are in their late twenties with limited exposure to major leagues do not often become significant contributors. If it's ignited over the next few months, the Yankees are hoping better than Bird is able. Otherwise, hello the first baseman DJ LeMahieu.
- PECOTA: .280 / .350 / .506 (127 DRC +), 21 circuits at home, 2.6 WARP in 460 appearances at the plate
- ZiPS: .264 / .344 / .474 (116 OPS +), 22 home circuits, 1.9 WAR in 483 appearances on the plate
- Steamer: .262 / .336 / .458 (115 wRC +), 19 circuits, 1.4 WAR in 449 appearances on the plate
In the Baseball Flyer, I mentioned that Voit was one of my favorite PECOTA projections for 2019. The system thinks he's the 22nd best baseball hitter! What a score for the front office if that's really the case. Even if it is not so high, the other projections are more than respectable. To obtain this batting caliber for Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos would be a remarkable robbery. Even if it is not as efficient as PECOTA, I think we would all be satisfied with the performances expected by ZiPS and Steamer.
A good thing about PECOTA is that some of the player complements she spat out. 2015 Nate Freiman (DNP) and 2011 Steve Pearce (76 DRC +) are the two best players, which is not exciting. However, the player who caught my attention was 2018 Jesus Aguilar. He is the sixth best builder of Voit, but very close to those who preceded him. Aguilar was rather impressive last season as a 28-year-old straight and right-sided first baseman in his first full season (135 RDC +). This description seems familiar? I would not mind Voit doing that at his age of 28, this one.
- PECOTA: .234 / .312 / .421 (88 DRC +), 7 circuits, 0.0 WARP in 193 appearances on the plate
- ZiPS: .224 / .317 / .444 (101 OPS +), 16 circuits, 0.6 WAR for 350 appearances at the plate
- Steam cooker: .227 / .315 / .435 (102 wRC +), 12 home circuits, 0.3 WAR in 210 appearances on plate
Once again, PECOTA moves away from other systems, this time in the opposite direction. He is one of the pessimists in the pack. It's not that ZiPS or Steamer are optimistic, of course. He would not deserve a lot of play time even if he met the other two projections.
Interestingly, even though PECOTA is on Bird, his mounts are better than those of Voit. The first is 2006 Adam LaRoche (123 DRC +). His fifth, sixth and seventh best compilers are also very good: 2012 Mitch Moreland (111 DRC +), 2007 Justin Morneau (117 DRC +), 2008 Adrian Gonzalez (132 DRC +). Sign me up for any of these seasons. Despite everything, it seems odd to get these as some of his best competitors despite a bad showing. There are also less than stellar competitions (Mike Jacobs and Matt LaPorta), but the good ones are more numerous than the bad ones.
I am a big supporter of Voit and think he has no problem with keeping Bird. For me, it's quite encouraging to see some projection systems marry with its Statcast metrics and the Yankees' internal ratings. There will be some understandable skepticism given the few career opportunities he has had in the major leagues, but everything suggests he is a good, maybe a big hitter.
In the meantime, I lost some hope in Bird. Although he plays well in a handful of spring games, I do not want to be excited anymore. It has not really done anything productive since 2015, a long time ago. Besides, I do not really believe in his health. I hope I'm wrong.