Yankees: Greg Bird and Luke Voit must play well on defense, not just offense
It appears Luke Voit and Greg Bird will split time at first base for the Yankees. While the two are primarily known for their offense, it’s crucial both execute effectively as fielders as we approach September.
Luke Voit had a breakout game on Friday for the New York Yankees. His performances led to questions for manager Aaron Boone, who seemed to warn Greg Bird he would be losing at-bats to Voit.
"“There are some opportunities to be had right now, you know, performance matters.”"
I’m sure Greg Bird heard Aaron Boone’s comments loud and clear. The 25-year-old had been handed opportunities all year long, despite his poor offensive production. Now that Luke Voit looks more comfortable at the plate — expect him to steal some plate appearances from Bird.
When Bird broke out in 2015, he appeared to be the future first baseman for the Yankees. He had the chance to prove his true value this year, and he’s flopped the opportunity. From a fan’s perspective, I have not lost faith in him. From an analyst’s perspective, I think Bird needs a fresh start or expectations for him must decrease.
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The Yankees franchise in recent history has featured first baseman who were essential to the overall success of the club. Tino Martinez, Jason Giambi, and Mark Teixeira were pieces the franchise invested into, and Don Mattingly came up through the system. If one thing is for sure, the Yanks usually have first base locked down.
The year is coming to an end quickly, so I wouldn’t expect either Voit or Bird to earn an everyday role. I do think both of them can complement one another, platooning against righties and lefties. However, both players need to play great defense too.
Reminder: Offense from Voit and Bird matter, but defense matters too
In my opinion, there are two positions every team should invest into to ensure they have a good glove manning the positions — catcher and first base. Both positions have the ball thrown to them the most, so wouldn’t a team be foolish not to have a human vacuum fielding both spots?
Neither Bird or Voit have looked as comfortable at the position as say, Mark Teixeira or Don Mattingly. However, it’s important to point out that through 159 games, Bird only has two career errors. He may not be a Gold Glover, but perhaps Bird can improve in this area of his game that he already seems decent at. Then at the very least, Bird can work as a defensive replacement for Voit or Neil Walker during some games.
Yes, Bird should have scooped Miguel Andujar‘s short throw against the Red Sox several weeks ago, but even spectacular defenders make errors sometimes — just ask Boston Red Sox Gold Glove winner, Bill Buckner. The Buckner incident in the 1986 World Series is a textbook example of why execution on every routine play is critical.
As for Voit, he was a liability at first base with the St. Louis Cardinals in the minors. According to STLToday, his struggles with the glove prompted him to lose weight and to take reps in the outfield.
All I’m saying is the platoon could work out fine offensively, but I’m not comfortable yet with either Bird or Voit’s fielding abilities as we approach September. Let’s hope both Bird and Voit work out well as an offensive and defensive platoon.