The New York Yankees are still at the top of the AL East standings, and that likely won’t change soon. However, they have been playing some lousy baseball for a while, and they have a couple of problematic positions.
The most problematic of them all, however, is shortstop. Isiah Kiner-Falefa, the starter there, has a putrid 79 wRC+, -7.6 offensive runs, a .626 OPS, and a .315 slugging percentage, not to mention zero home runs. Reports on his defense are mixed: he has 5 DRS, but -2 OAA. The eye test tells us he is adequate, but nothing more.
The Yankees, however, are determined to keep him as the starter. On Tuesday night, he had a costly baserunning mistake, too. Fans are starting to lose their patience with IKF, and the team should be considering a change.
The Yankees have Oswald Peraza tearing up Triple-A (he is hitting .338/.401/.607 with a 1.008 OPS, a 165 wRC+, 10 home runs and 15 stolen bases in 162 plate appearances since June 11) and looking ready for the next step in his development.
The Yankees are reluctant to reduce IKF’s playing time
But they seemingly don’t want to bench IKF so suddenly, and Peraza, if brought up, wouldn’t play every day. That’s what the Yankees want: for him to have as many at-bats as possible.
If those are the conditions, they could also try Oswaldo Cabrera. An adequate defender at shortstop, he has a 102 wRC+ for the season, but if we count his stats since July 4, when he returned from a shoulder injury, he is slashing .307/.394/.591 with seven home runs, 21 RBI, 11 stolen bases and a .985 OPS in 104 plate appearances.
In other words, he is back into his dominating 2021 self: Cabrera is a legitimate prospect in his own right, and having him stealing some playing time from Kiner-Falefa makes sense. He also offers some versatility, as he can play second and third base, too.
Be it Peraza or Cabrera, the Yankees need to reduce IKF’s playing time and send him to a utility role, as he can thrive there with his defensive versatility.