1. Oswald Peraza
Once the regular-season division title was clinched, top prospect Oswald Peraza all of a sudden started playing shortstop all the time over Isiah Kiner-Falefa.
And … what do you know? It worked. He was very good at it. Huh.
This non-debate has been sealed for quite a while. If healthy, Josh Donaldson/DJ LeMahieu, Kiner-Falefa, and Gleyber Torres will all get reps on the infield. Bizarrely, LeMahieu might be the one left as a super sub entering October, even as he’s regained the ability to spray line drives these past few games.
As stated earlier, Aaron Hicks and Marwin González seem glued to the bench, even though Peraza has proven every time he’s been inserted into the lineup that he’s a higher-upside player, even as a 22-year-old rookie.
Given a month longer runway, fellow rookie Oswaldo Cabrera was able to establish himself as intrinsic to the Yankees’ playoff hopes. Hell, he’s going to play left field, a position he hadn’t even been considered for as recently as August. He’s going to start in an all-new position.
If Benintendi, for instance, were healthy, Cabrera could be carried as a floating González replacement, allowing the Yankees to consider bringing Peraza along for the ride as an infield backup and jettisoning Hicks. Instead, they’d have to choose Peraza over Kiner-Falefa for the kid to have a chance here, and the Yankees have shown us time and again that that’s not happening.
In September/October, IKF saved himself somewhat, managing a .258/.333/.382 triple-slash with a 123 OPS+ in a small sample size. He’s entering October hot … but Peraza remains hotter, sporting a 141 OPS+ mark since his debut.
When he plays, he hits. He also fields. Kiner-Falefa does both things, sometimes, but the Yankees made their call before they even saw the kid. And that’s what hurts.