Greg Bird is the Most Important Player for the New York Yankees
Heading into the 2017 season all of the hopes of the Yankees fandom appear to have been put on the shoulders of Gary Sanchez. And why not? Sanchez lit the world on fire during his rookie season last year. So many before this season have said that the Yankees fortunes are all on Sanchez shoulders. However, there is a more important player on the Yankees roster. A player that can relieve the pressure that Sanchez is going to face. That player is Greg Bird. Let us not forget that just last Spring. it was Bird that had been the future of the Yankees. The supposed cornerstone of the Yankees future. Yet a horrific injury, seemed to set Greg Bird back. And of course headed into Spring Training, there was a concern that Bird would have lost a step. Lost the power that he had displayed in 2015. Well after Spring Training, it appears that those concerns can now go away. Bird looks better than ever and has become the most important player for the Yankees in 2017.
Before we talk about the present, let’s go back to 2015. Bird’s rookie year was impressive. Bird hit .261 with 11 Hrs and 31 rbis. He had a .529 slugging percentage as well. Bird had shown that he was the most consistent rookie to debut for the Yankees in years. He had the glove, the bat, and the eye of a major leaguer. He wasn’t just some flash in the pan player that the Yankees had been trotting out years before. No, the fans could tell that Bird was going to be an integral part of the Yankees future. It was during Bird’s rookie year that Mark Teixeria became obsolete. Tex, as many will remember, had been in decline that season and what with his past history of slow starts at the start of the season, it was clear that Bird was supposed to be the future at first base. He was Gary Sanchez before El Gary got called up. Bird, you can say, was the first key cog in the Yankees youth movement.
But then a torn labrum in his right shoulder last year cast a large dark cloud over the future of Bird. Especially since he had struggled last October in his rebar starts. So when Spring Training had started, it was only fair for Yankees fans to wonder how well Greg Bird was going to look. Well he answered those concerns with a hell of a spring training. Bird had 8 home runs in Spring Training. That is the most that a Yankees player has hit in Spring Training. So it appears that Bird has some semblance of power after the injury. Of course playing in Yankee Stadium with that short right field can only benefit the left handed Bird. If Bird can drive the ball out to that spot, I fully expect Bird to put up 18–20 home runs this year, which would be a success considering the type of injury Bird had suffered.
So why is Bird the most important player for the Yankees this season? Well it is because Bird can take the pressure off of Sanchez to be all of the power for the Yankees this year. Let us be honest, the Yankees initial lineup has a severe lack of power outside of Judge, Bird, and Sanchez. Gardner has never been a power hitter. Ellsbury is in severe decline. Didi is injured and Starlin is not a power hitter either. Matt Holliday is aging and Chase Headley is a black hole in the lineup. So that only leaves Sanchez, Bird, and Judge to be the main source of offense for the Yankees this season. And Judge is a boom or bust type of player who struggles with strikeouts. So that really only leaves Sanchez and Bird as the consistent power hitters in this Yankees lineup. So it is crucial for Bird and Sanchez to hit the ball well this year. Or the Yankees offense will be one the worst offenses that the team has had.
Sanchez and Bird should be batting 2 and 3 in this lineup(like Girardi did against the Rays). They are arguably the two best hitters in the lineup. Also Bird has to bat near Sanchez in order to protect Sanchez. If anyone else in this lineup is batting behind Gary, well Gary is going to get intentionally walked. But with Bird batting behind Sanchez, teams can not do that. And if Girardi wants to flip the order that works too. Bird had a .343 on base percentage in 2015, so he knows how to get on base. And again teams could not just intentionally both Bird and Sanchez in consecutive at bats. So it is important that Bird and Sanchez are in the lineup behind one another.
2017 is an important year for the New York Yankees. This is the year that the young prospects are supposed to bloom into big stars. And yes most fans point to Gary Sanchez as the embodiment of the hope and belief of Yankee fans. However, there is a player in the roster that is just as if not more important for the Yankees. That is the returning Greg Bird. The Yankees need Greg Bird to be as good as he was in 2015. Cause realistically this roster is poor and has few potential stars. Bird is one of those potential stars. It is crucial for the future of the Yankees that Bird lives up to the billing.