New York Yankees: What a Shortened Season Means for Bench Players
First baseman Mike Ford was a unique prospect. While he was tearing up Triple-A last season, his old age of 27 made him an old prospect, and he quite frankly was overlooked by many due to that reason.
But better late than never, right?
Ford was awarded the opportunity when Greg Bird, who practically lives on the Injured List, went down with plantar fasciitis. The Yankees made a move to call the big fella up on April 16, 2019, and with Luke Voit up as the starter, the left-handed bat of Ford was a valuable weapon.
In 48 games, Ford showed off his power, hitting nine balls over the fence, as well as accumulating 30 RBI.
Most prospects that come into the show nowadays are focused on launch angle and racking up that slugging percentage, rather than caring about the digits associated with a batting average.
But Ford recorded a .259 batting average and an OBP of .350. He was reliable with the glove as well, posting a .985 fielding percentage, with 191 putouts out of 194 opportunities.
Now Ford’s play is not only dictated by his production, but also by the play of Luke Voit.
While Voit took a step back in batting average last season when compared to when he first arrived in pinstripes, he continued to drive the ball until his hernia became too much to bear. If he can play consistently again this season, Ford will be used strictly as a backup, as well as a designated hitter from time to time.
And on the oft chance, knock on wood, that Voit gets hurt, Ford has a better chance of being a go-to man with Didi Gregorius no longer on the team crowding the infield, with a stronger bat than aforementioned Wade.
Back to the Baseball Reference Simulation, Ford is batting .271, with nine home runs and 30 RBI through 49 games played.
Let’s not get too carried away with the simulations, but it does give us a good idea at how often he was used.
Last season, Ford’s counterpart in Voit played in 118 of 162 games, which equals 72.8% of games.
That being said, in a 60-game season, Voit would be playing around 44 games, leaving Ford with a hypothetical 16 or so games.
Now this is not a perfect science, given the fact that injuries could happen or other underlying factors may rear their heads.
But if that is the case, 16 games, with around three at-bats per game, would mean only 48 plate appearances before the extended playoffs.
And while Ford will be turning 28 in the month of July, we want to see this guy get chances, because if he does struggle this season, it will be very easy for someone else to replace him. Even if that player is not better, a younger player will always be given the benefit of the doubt, and depending on his ability, may be given more opportunities to improve over the older Ford.