The Yankees experiment with Greg Bird has been nothing short of disastrous over the past two seasons. The only question is why is he still with the club?
In order to write this piece, we must have a baseline and preface with his offensive history as the Yankees starting first baseman.
In 2015 he burst onto the scene hitting .261 with 11 home runs in 46 games, but ever since then, it’s all gone downhill. In 2016 he missed the whole season after surgery for a torn labrum. Last season ankle surgery limited him again and even when he played he struggled to produce, batting .190 with 9 home runs and 28 RBI.
This year Bird was sidelined again after undergoing another surgery on the same ankle and since his return, he’s done nothing. He’s hitting .200 with 5 home runs and only 9 RBI in 105 at-bats.
Those are “the great” Greg Bird’s numbers. These are not very impressive numbers. They become even more unimpressive when you combine them into career stats or 460+ at bats.
His horrendous numbers for 2018 are self-explanatory in the calculation of his contributions to the club’s offense this season. However, let’s dig a little deeper and measure Bird’s impact on the Yankees in other ways.
Bird’s arrival from the DL, which is where he spent most of his time in the last 4 years, came on May 28th of this year. The Yankees have lost exactly ten games since then. Bird appeared in nine of them, one as a pinch-hitter. Here are Birds stats in those losses:
9 games – 27 AB – ,202 BA – 6 Hits – 1 RBI – 0 HR -11 SO – 11 LOB
We certainly cannot pin the entire blame on Bird for all of the losses, but that is not what this article is about. The article addresses Bird’s negative impact on the Yankees club as a whole.
The Yankees players batting in front of Bird who rely on protection from his bat in those losses included Gary Sanchez, Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Andujar, and Aaron Hicks. They produced a combined effort of 3 hits in 27 at-bats.
There is a responsibility of providing protection to the player that hits before you. The dream of having Bird’s LH bat between Judge and Stanton is the only reason Bird is on the roster. Let’s see further how that breaks that down.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone tried Bird in the three hole immediately upon arrival and for 7 games. The results were that Judge had just 6 hits in 27 AB. He was just not getting “pitches to hit”. Opposing pitchers did not mind pitching around Judge in order to face Bird. Judges batting average dropped nearly 20 points and the Yankees put a quick stop to that failure.
Who on the Yankees wants to bat in front of Bird?
Well, of course, we know that Bird remained in the line-up and the Yankees tried almost everyone in front of him and behind, including Stanton, Sanchez, Torres, Andujar, and Hicks. Once again Bird’s effect helped make everyone else look bad as that group combined for only 22 hits in 96 at-bats, which translates to a .229 BA. Bird himself was almost a sure out.
Finally, the effect of Bird in the clubhouse since he took a valuable roster spot that resulted in the demotion of clubhouse favorite Ronald Torreyes, who was hitting .364 at the time.
Tyler Austin, who did an outstanding job up until his suspension for charging Joe Kelley after he beaned him in Boston, barely saw action and lost his timing as he was exiled to the bench and then finally demoted.
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Many will not see the importance here, but the Yankees played there best baseball before Bird arrived with Tyler Austin at first and Bird’s arrival messed with that “mojo”.
The presence of Bird, after the smoke settles from all the hype, is and has been negative to the club. His lack of production has cost the Yankees games. These games are just as important as the ones in September.
The Yankees have MLB tried and tested talent in Brandon Drury with a career BA near .270 and was an everyday player for two years with the Arizona Diamondbacks. There is no question that at this moment, Drury is a far more developed player than Bird and could be occupying his spot on the roster, but he is not left-handed, and the Yankees are obsessed with that. Isn’t Sir Didi Gregorius a better LH option hitting third than Bird?
What would be so terrible about the front office to sending Mr. Bird and his “dream swing” back to AAA for more development? The Yankees must win the AL East in order not to play a one-game wildcard playoff, and the “Bird effect”, if this situation persists, may very well leave the club watching the rest of the playoffs and the World Series while sitting at home.