Yankees: Numbers prove Gio Urshela’s transformation has been ridiculous

New York Yankees infielder Gio Urshela (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
New York Yankees infielder Gio Urshela (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The Yankees are extremely lucky they have Gio Urshela.

When the Yankees acquired Gio Urshela for cash considerations at the tail end of the 2018 season, they thought they were taking a flyer on a man they’d just watched fill in during the 2017 ALDS in Cleveland.

He was good enough to start postseason games as a defensive whiz for a 102-win team, after all. He’d certainly be good fodder for the Scranton Shuttle, Brian Cashman assumed. Perhaps he’d even be able to woo his best friend Francisco Lindor.

From his first appearance in pinstripes in ’19, though, it was clear that something about Urshela had changed. His effortless power swing was built perfectly for the short porch in right. He also had an extra jolt when he needed it to left-center. And his defensive prowess was a breath of fresh air, coming off an exhausting 162 games of Miguel Andujar in 2018.

Need more proof? Urshela, as a Yankee, just surpassed his total number of MLB plate appearances before joining the team, and the splits are absolutely jarring.

The counting stats are spectacular, but that OPS … truly stands above the rest. That’s like going from Chad Huffman to Aaron Judge.

Of course, these offensive stats completely leave his defensive prowess out of the narrative, too. Defensive statistics are rudimentary, and paint Urshela as average at best, but ask any Yankees fan: have you ever been more comfortable at the hot corner?

Urshela was David Adams or Jayson Nix when he arrived. Now, he’s a veritable masher with a Gold Glove. Grand slam to break the game open against the Red Sox? Yeah, that’s not an outlier. That’s just who he is.

If you want to blame the new baseball for Urshela’s power emergence, blame the new baseball. Clearly, that tightly-wound horsehide is here to stay.

Through some combination of the power of the Pinstripes and a series of tangible offensive improvements, the Yankees have a cornerstone in Urshela, and early returns on 2020 are equally positive. It just … feels great to have the hot corner locked down, doesn’t it?