The New York Yankees have a big decision to make regarding the shortstop position for the 2023 season. After witnessing a polarizing version of Isiah Kiner-Falefa, there is potential that manager Aaron Boone could shake things up.
It is possible the team cuts IKF, to begin with, after being benched in the ALDS against the Cleveland Guardians. He might not have the mental fortitude to stand up against the overly critical nature of fans in New York, but Boone stood by his young infielder, noting his defensive efficiency during the regular season.
“On the whole, I think IKF was by in large-excellent defensively and one of the top in the league.”
The numbers suggest that Boone has a point, given IKF enjoyed 10 defensive runs saved above average at shortstop this past season. He did record -2 outs above average — he likely slots in as an average shortstop.
Offensively, there is a lot left to be desired, considering he hit .261 with a measly 31.4% on-base rate. He only recorded four homers with 48 RBIs but did steal a career-high 22 bases. His 85 wRC+ indicated that he was 15% worse than the average MLB player.
The numbers are conflicting when it comes to the 27-year-old shortstop, but the Yankees have one year left of control, meaning they have to make a big decision on his future for next season.
“IKF is accountable, tough, expects a lot in himself. His bar is [high] regarding who he should be defensively. He was having a really good defensive year.”
The Yankees have to utilize Oswald Peraza to the max:
Despite Boone’s confidence in IKF, he had equally positive things to say about Oswald Peraza, who was impressive over a small sample size. Peraza played in just 18 games this past season, posting a .306 average with a 40% on-base rate, including one HR and two RBIs.
[su_posts template=”templates/list-loop.php” posts_per_page=”3″ tax_term=”1622326″ offset=”1″ order=”desc”]
Boone said Peraza has “put himself in a very good position. He only helped himself moving forward.”
Ultimately, it seems as a Peraza will have a fair shot at securing the starting shortstop position for the 2023 season. Obviously, the Yankees are still expecting Anthony Volpe to make the leap next year, which could end up changing Peraza’s spot in the future if he is not traded for other assets.
However, Peraza not only showed adequate offensive capabilities during the regular season, but he also displayed elite defensive qualities against the Houston Astros in the ALCS.
In his first playoff start, Peraza was excellent defensively, showcasing elite glove-to-hand exchange speed. Featuring tremendous range and the ability to complete routine ground balls with ease, Peraza offers a reliable option at SS moving forward, far more than IKF.
However, the more experienced of the two could shift over to the hot corner while Volpe continues his development. IKF did win a Gold Glove at 3B a few years ago.
Peraza could eventually slide over to third base, given he has plenty of arm strength to get the job done at one of the more difficult positions in baseball.