The New York Yankees are in the middle of a serious facelift this offseason, as the infield shuffle has officially put Gio Urshela smack dab at the top of the shortstop depth chart after spending most of last season at third base.
Urshela has quickly become a fan favorite by showing off some impressive power after a few years spent vacillating between the major leagues and Triple-A, and he’s also provided some solid defense at the hot corner.
However, due to some poor defense from Gleyber Torres last season, the Yankees have experimented with Urshela at short stop, hoping that his ability to judge rocket line drives and strong throwing arm will help reinforce the Yankees up the middle.
While Urshela says he felt comfortable during his time at shortstop, will his complimentary words be enough to calm down Yankee fans that think he could still hold his own if he has to hold that position down for an extended period of time? The numbers don’t seem to suggest as much.
Yankees infielder Gio Urshela hasn’t been a great defender at shortstop
Urshela, who bounced around between the Cleveland Indians and Toronto Blue Jays before settling in with the Yankees, only has 28 career innings at shortstop, do any sort of projection is based on the dictionary definition of a small sample size.
In those 28 innings, Urshela accounted for -2 defensive runs saved, meaning that the mere fact he was out there at short cost his team two runs. On the flip side, Urshela has saved four defensive runs at third base. The Yankees are making a steep defensive downgrade in Urshela at short.
While Urshela’s defense at short is poor, Tyler Wade’s inability to be anything close to an average MLB hitter should force the Yankees to stick Urshela over there in order to minimize Wade’s at-bats. Urshela might struggle out of the gate, but Torres wasn’t exactly Ozzie Smith last year, so Aaron Boone has shown a willingness to sacrifice a bit of defense here and there.
Urshela will not get a ton of time to get acclimated to his new position, as every single game in this Yankee season could be important as the team fights to stave off a much-improved AL East. If Urshela is able to replicate his success at third base over in the middle infield, however, that is a huge weight off of Boone’s shoulders as he figures out how to tinker with the lineup.