The Yankees Roster Has Under the Radar Versatility
The Moneyball Era has brought baseball many new and exciting toys. Sabermetrics, new ways of evaluating players, powerhouse teams that showcase a roster of “no names” and a pretty great movie that made us all want Brad Pitt as our General Manager. But one of the more underrated aspects of this new time has been the movement away from players being set at one position. It used to be teams had their infielders and outfielders. The infielders stayed at their positions and the outfielders stayed it theirs. Sure, every now and then you came across a player like Tony Phillips who could play multiple positions (Phillips played pretty much everywhere).
Today, it’s a lot different with teams using players in multiple ways like the 2014 Oakland Athletics who used a platoon at almost every position. Surprisingly, the New York Yankees have utilized this idea very well. Their roster sports a few players who can play multiple positions and they have been open about continuing this trend.
Chris Young, their fourth outfielder, can play all three outfield positions. Left fielder Brett Gardner can also play center field (Probably right field as well). Backup infielder Brendan Ryan can play shortstop, second base and even first base. Martin Prado is probably the most versatile player in the game as he can play second base, third base, left field, right field and even shortstop if you really need him to. Some Yankee pitchers including David Phelps and Esmil Rogers are pitchers who can both start and relief, making something like an utility pitcher.
The Yankees are also looking to re-sign Chase Headley who, while normally a third baseman, can also play first base and even the corner outfield positions. Their interest in bringing back Stephen Drew, who can play both shortstop and second base, fits along with this trend. This is a smart roster strategy and one that the Yankees should definitely continue going forward.
Versatility gives a roster options. It adds depth to the roster. For example, say the Yankees re-sign Headley. They then have three options at third base along with him, Prado and Alex Rodriguez. That means that you can move a lot of parts around, give players rest and match up lefties and righties easier. That is very valuable to any team and mixing and matching is always a good way to keep the opposing team on their toes.
The Yankees get a lot of grief for posting a roster of aging players but having guys that can move all around the diamond certainly helps to mend that issue. There’s a lot of pieces that can be moved around and support the team. Hopefully, they’ll continue this in the off season. It can only help to boost the roster’s strength and give them a new edge in the coming season.