Eric Boland tweeted a video of Bird homering off Masahiro Tanaka:
â€” Erik Boland (@eboland11) February 21, 2019
And fans went wild with optimism that Bird was back!Â Not that I want to disagree, it’s just that two days of camp do not a comeback make.Â Bird has a lot to improve this season, beginning with these numbers: .191/286/.386 with 11 home runs and 38 RBIs in 82 games last season. Â
He was left off the postseason roster in favor of Luke Voit andÂ Kristie Ackert of NYdailynews.com wrote: â€œ he has an uphill battle to unseat Voit as the starting first baseman.”Â Especially since Voit, on the strength of a more than solid stretch run, has the endorsement of General Manager Brian Cashman.
So what can we expect from Bird in ’19? Â According to River Ave. Blues:
ZiPS has never been all that high on Greg Bird â€” it projected him for +1.9 WAR total from 2017-18 â€” and this year it projects him for a .224/.317/.444 (101 OPS+) line and +0.6 WAR in 350 plate appearance.
Bird projects to hit below league average for first basemen which were .253/.333/.438 (112 OPS+) in 2018. Â Despite a modest ZiPs projection for 2018, .240/.333/.480 with 19 HRs in 372 plate appearances, Bird’s numbers on the year were well below it and as a result, he lost the starting job.
There are high hopes that Bird’s work in the offseason will translate into the sort of spring training that he’s has been known to have – he hit 8 home runs and posted a 1.64 OPS over 51 at-bats in Grapefruit League play in 2017. Â While Injuries derailed him in 2016 and 2017, in 2018, he appeared to be healthy; however, he could never put it together offensively to be productive and successful in ’18.
Bryan Hoch of MLB.com tweeted yesterday that Aaron Boone saidÂ that there is “definitely a noticeable difference in Greg Bird’s swing and how he is impacting the ball” this spring. Â Boone noted to Kristie Ackert of the NYPost that Bird, even while struggling last season, Bird controls the strike zone. Â He noted that in his first at-bats in Tampa that control was apparent.
There is plenty of buzz around Bird this spring as fans hope to see him rebound from a dismal showing in 2018 and reclaim the first baseman’s job; however, Luke Voit is going to be a huge obstacle in his path to a comeback.
While Bird’s glove has always been solid, his offensive potential has only ever been glimpsed at due to injury and ineffectiveness. Â Let’s hope Bird makes it a dogfight at first base by getting the bat going this spring and showing off that lefty power stroke.