Yankees Editorial: Chase Headley’s Importance to 2015 Yankees


For New York Yankees third baseman Chase Headley, a nice, fat 4-year, $52 million contract comes with more than just padded coffers and a swanky apartment.

It comes with enormous expectations, dating back nearly three years, to an impossible MVP-caliber season juxtaposed against Alex Rodriguez’s cringeworthy shenanigans. As Yankees fans, we’re definitely the jealous type.

Chase Headley has been on the Yankees’ radar since the 2012 season, when he hit .286 with 31 home runs and 115 RBIs for the San Diego Padres. He was worth 6.0 WAR, and played a pretty solid third base to boot.

What was our friend Alex Rodriguez up to in 2012? In 122 games, he hit .272 with 18 home runs and 57 RBIs, and was worth 2.2 WAR.

That season, Alex Rodriguez earned $29 million. Chase Headley earned just under $4 million. Ouch.

Unfortunately for Headley, replicating that success (and cost efficiency) has proven difficult. Dealing with intermittent and nagging injuries, He hit .250 with 13 home runs and 50 RBIs in 2013, with a startling drop-off in slugging percentage — from .498 in 2012, to .400 in 2013. Essentially, he went from MVP candidate to just a solid, if unspectacular, regular third baseman.

When Headley finally came over from San Diego last summer, he played very well, batting .262 in 224 at-bats. His defense was spectacular, and he didn’t have a hard time endearing himself to the fanbase. After all, his first hit in a Yankees uniform was a walk-off single.

Which Chase Headley should fans expect in 2015 and beyond?

The reality lies somewhere between his 2012 and 2013 seasons. Chase Headley is now 30 years old, with chronic back issues that must be managed carefully over the life of his 4 year contract. His power is somewhat compromised, and I would be shocked to see him hit more than 20 home runs in 2015. His 2012 season, in which he hit 31 home runs, must be considered a statistical outlier. After all, he has averaged 16 home runs per season in his 8-year career, and hit only 13 last season.

Headley could very easily hit .270 with 18 home runs and 70 RBIs in about 145 games this season, which is more than we could ever hope for from Alex Rodriguez. Fingers crossed.

But Chase Headley’s value to the Yankees is not just with his bat — although having a patient switch-hitter in their lineup is so 1995-2001 dynasty.

As the starting third baseman, he will help anchor a newly improved infield defense featuring Didi Gregorius and Stephen Drew. He is a relaxed, professional clubhouse presence who will help with the team’s internal culture. He’s also a grinder who won’t come out of the lineup unless he absolutely has to.

And best of all, his presence sends a message from ownership to Yankees fans everywhere: “Alex Rodriguez, who?”

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