New York Yankees: What impact will a short season have on Mike Ford, Clint Frazier, and others?

New York Yankees, Clint Frazier

For the New York Yankees, a shortened season of just 60 games will have several consequences, both good and bad.  The bad is that they won’t be able to have any long stretches of poor play if they are to get to the postseason.  The Yankees are still World Series favorites, but each game during the season will take on more importance.  The greatest impact on players will be those that will sit on the bench with the expanded 30 man roster.

The bench will most likely include Mike Ford, Clint Frazier, Mike Tauchman, catcher Kyle Higashioka, and the “utility” players, Miguel Andujar, and Tyler Wade.  Also on the bench will be club veteran Brett Gardner. After last year’s disaster with so many players going on the IL, these bench players could see significant playing time.  In that thought, you have to consider with no minor leaguer’s available, the bench will be very important.

Mike Ford: Mike burst onto the scene last season.  The seven-year minor league veteran got his big break when he was called up to the majors when Greg Bird was injured. He made his major league debut in April and got his first hit on April 21. He hit his first home run on April 23rd. He ended up playing in 50 games, most near the end of the season.  He proved to be a powerful left-hand bat hitting 12 home runs. That’s an average of a home run in every 4 1/2 games.

Manager Aaron Boone if he chose to could alternate Ford with Voit at first base. Voit could hit against lefties and Ford again right-hand pitchers.

Clint Frazier: Aaron Judge’s back luck with his rib fracture, just could be big for Clint Frazier, one of manager Boone’s only options to serve in the right field.  At present, it is not known if Judge’s rehab will have progressed enough to allow him to play at the start of the season on July 23rd. With such a short season Judge may not play at all.  Frazier, who can go on a tear behind the plate has been questionable in the outfield.  This season could be his season to prove his worth to the New York Yankees.

Kyle Higashioka:  Kyle is in a situation where he has to show that he can be the replacement for Austin Romine that the Yankees hope for. In a short season and if Gary Sanchez can remain healthy, Kyle might only catch in eight to ten games.  However, if Sanchez has injuries as he is inclined to have, Kyle could see himself catching in a half-season of games.  Whatever the case the Yankees will be watching Kyle carefully. Last season he caught in 18 games in relief of Austin Romine.  He batting .214 with 3 homers, but in spring training this year, he led the team in home runs with 3 homers in just 12 games and hit .276.

Andujar and Tauchman:  With Giancarlo Stanton playing in only 18 games last year and already being injured in spring training, Miguel Andujar and Mike Tauchman may see a lot of time in the outfield.  The plus with Andujar is his power behind the plate, and with Mike Tauchman, it’s his left-hand bat in a lineup that is right-hand heavy.  Manager Boone has his choices to rest Stanton or have these two alternate as fill-ins in left field. Andujar will see more playing time as he will also alternate with Stanton as the regular DH.

Aaron Hicks/Brett Gardner:  At the present with Aaron Hicks reportedly ready to play in center field, and with capable Brett Gardner as a backup, the center field is pretty well taken care of for Boone. Hick’s will be returning from Tommy John surgery that he had immediately at the end of the season.  He was supposed to miss the first two months of the season, but with the delayed season, that may not be an issue.

Tyler Wade:  Tyler Wade just may be the wild card this year and may see more playing time than any bench players.  Being the super-utility player, he can fill in at short for Gleyber Torres, who will need rest and for DJ LeMahieu at second.  The plus for Boone is that Wade can also play the outfield.

With injuries inevitable and the coronavirus, the season may well end up with whatever team has the best bench players will be the team that advances to the World Series.  The New York Yankees bench is well suited to be that excellent bench.

New York Yankees: The top ten moments that made the 2019 Yankee season outstanding

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

THE TOP 10 MOMENTS OF THE 2019 SEASON!

First, let me give an honorable mention to the London Series when the New York Yankees swept the Boston Red Sox in the historic series at the London Stadium in the United Kingdom. Highlights include the 9 run seventh inning that created the sweep of the rival Red Sox.  Although there was a lot of hype about the series,  I didn’t include it in the top ten as the games were relatively meaningless, other than Yankee bragging rights.

#10 Brett Gardner’s 100th home run

The 2019 season for Brett Gardner was one of his best ever. The 11-year veteran Yankee player played throughout the season as he found himself everywhere in the lineup with DJ LeMahieu taking his leadoff position in the lineup. Brett hit a career-high 28 home runs, his previous high was 21 in 2017. During the year on April 17, hit his 100th home run in grand fashion with a Grand Slam that allowed the Yankees the 5-3 win over the Red Sox.

#9 Gleyber Torres hits 13 home runs against the Baltimore Orioles.

Gleyber Torres had a breakout season in 2019 hitting 38 home runs while hitting .278. All this while filling in most of the season at shortstop replacing the injured Didi Gregorius. He was an All-Star and an MVP nominee. The highlight of his year was when he made history on August 12, when he hit a 2 run homer against the Orioles. Torres made MLB history with his 5th multi-home run vs any team in a season.

#8 CC Sabathia’s 3000th strikeout

The New York Yankees signed CC Sabathia in 2009 and he helped them with a 19-8 record that brought the New York Yankees their last World Series win in 2009. He followed that campaign with a 21-7 season in 2010. He had seven winning seasons with the Yankees. He retired after an incredible 19 years as a pitcher. The highlight of his 2019 season and his entire pitching career happened on April 30th when he got his 3,000th strikeout. It was in a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the strikeout was against former teammate John Ryan Murphy.

#7 DJ LeMahieu’s home run against the Astros

In 2019 no moment in the season was more important than game six of the 2019 ALCS. If the Yankees won the game they would have gone on to a tie-breaking seventh game, and possibly on to a 28th World Series Championship. It was the ninth inning facing elimination on the tenth pitch to DJ LeMahieu, he got a two-run homer off Astros closer Osuna tying the game at four. Yankee fans were elated until at the bottom of the inning  Jose Altuve got a two-run homer off Aroldis Chapman, causing the Yankees to lose the series.  After the season it was learned that the Astros may have cheated in the series.  Although they were never punished for it MLB found them guilty for cheating in the 2017 Yankee ALCS loss.

#6 Back to back walk-offs against the Athletics

On August 31st in an eleven inning dual against the Oakland Athletics, DJ LeMahieu hit a walk-off home run for the Yankee 5-4 win.  Gary Sanchez hit two homers in the game.  On the following night, Mike Ford made Yankee history when manager Aaron Judge asked him to pinch-hit in the ninth inning.  With the game tied at 4 for the second night in a row, Ford slammed a 394′ home run to become the first Yankee rookie pinch hitter to accomplish the feat.

#5 Aaron Hicks’ homer in game 5 in the ALCS at Yankee Stadium.

Centerfielder Aaron Hicks facing Justin Verlander hooked a long home run off the right-field foul pole in the Yankees 4-1 win over the Astros.  The Yankees got all four of their runs in the first inning, knocking Houston’s ace Justin Verlander out of the game. Hick’s home drove in three of the four runs in the Yankee win.

#4 Mike Ford and Brett Gardner go back to back.

In a September 1st game against the Oakland Athletics going into the ninth inning the New York Yankees were behind 3-0 at the bottom of the seventh.  The A’s scored again in the top of the eighth.  At the bottom, the Yankees came to within one.  At the top of the ninth, the A’s didn’t score, setting up one of the most dramatic moments of the season. Facing a loss Brett Gardner came to the plate and homered to tie the game.  Mike Ford followed in with a booming walk-off home run.

#3 Didi’s Grand Slam in the ALDS.

During game two of the 2019 ALDS against the Minnesota Twins.  The Yankees had a seven-run third inning at Yankee Stadium.  Shortstop Didi Gregorius was responsible for driving in four of those runs when he approached the plate in the inning and hit a Grand Slam homer off Twins reliever Tyler Duffy.

#2 Aaron Hicks flying catch ends Yankee win in the 10th.

In what was one of the most spectacular defensive plays of the New York Yankee season centerfielder Aaron Hicks made one of the greatest plays of his career.  It was the top of the 10th, and the Yankees had just gone ahead in the game at the Twins Target Field.  The Twins were set up to win with two on at the bottom of the 10th when Max Kepler walked to the plate with two outs.  With Adam Ottavino on the mound, Kepler blasted a line drive to center.  Hicks made a flying leap to catch an uncatchable ball for the Yankees win.  At the top of the ninth, he had just hit a two-run homer to give the Yankees the lead.  At the bottom of the tenth Kepler hit his line drive with two outs.  The drive came to Hick with amazing speed, Hick leaped and flew through the air and made the unreal catch as he slammed to the ground breaking the brim of his cap.

#1 Yankees win the division for the first time in seven years!

Setting the mood, on September 19, 2019, the New York Yankees had just learned that ace pitcher Domingo German had been placed on administrative leave by MLB for an alleged violation of the domestic violence rule. That evening just hours later, the Yankees were set to meet the Los Angeles Angels, after missing a chance to clinch just the night before.  Masahiro Tanaka was on the mount. The game wasn’t much of a game on the Angels part.

DJ LeMahieu hit a go-ahead, three-run homer for yet another big moment in his first year with New York and old mainstay Brett Gardner homered and had three RBI.  The Yankee would go on to win their 100th game of the season, and clinch the American League title for the first time since 2012. The Yankee player met near the mound for understated handshakes and body bumps but avoided the dogpile and possible injuries.  The Yankees celebrated in the on the field and in the clubhouse with the traditional champagne.

New York Yankees: A History of Yankee Walk-off Home runs, and the last 35 (read)

New York Yankees, Mike Ford

While we sit and wait for a New York Yankees baseball season delayed, and when it might start, our minds wander in search of something baseball.  We look for stories about baseball and watch classics on the YES Network.  Without a baseball season, this Yankee writer finds it a challenge writing about fresh content that has not been beaten to death.

Being a researcher as well as a writer, I find myself scouring the news outlets, Facebook pages, and anything I can get my hands on.  On days that I don’t find much to write about, sometimes I just draw a blank and other days for some reason or another a subject just pops into my head.   Being that I write about the present player’s lives and historical pieces on Yankee Legends, I might have less of a problem writing than those writers that are reporters only.

This morning after I finished my New York Yankees News/Rumors article, I was thinking about significant plays.  Thinking of DJ LeMahieu’s dramatic home run in the 9th that brought us close to a six-game win in the 2019 ALCS.  All of the sudden my mind shifted to Mike Ford’s walk-off home run last year.  And then pop, that’s what I’ll write about, walk-off home runs.

Nothing in baseball is as exciting as a walk-off win, especially when it’s a home run.  The New York Yankees in their glorious history have had plenty of them over the last 115 years.  In case you’re wondering what Yankee has had the most walk-off home runs, it’s not surprisingly Mickey Mantle (12)  followed by Babe Ruth (11).  What might surprise you, is that Brett Gardner has had more walk-off home runs than any Yankee player in the last ten years (3)

In the past 20 years, there have been very few postseason walk-off home runs.  In 2009 Mark Teixeira hit one with the score tied at 3 in the 11th eleventh inning of the ALDS against the Twins.  The other walk-off was against the Orioles by Raul Ibanez in a 2-2 tied game in the twelfth inning of game 3 of the 2012 ALDS.  Interestingly both walk-offs benefited Yankee reliever, David Robertson.

Here’s a list of all the New York Yankees walk-off home runs in the last ten years:

2009/04/22:  Mel Cabrera off the Oakland A’s, 05/16 Alex Rodriguez off the Twins, 05/17 Johnny Damon against the Twins, 07/20 Hideki Matsui against the Orioles, 08/07 Alex Rodriguez off the Boston Red Sox, 08/28 Robinson Cano from the White Sox, 09/08 Nick Swisher against the Tampa Rays, 10/09 Mark Teixeira off the Twins.  2009 had the most significant number of walk-off home runs of any year in the last ten years.

2010/05/17 Marcus Thames off the Red Sox, and 09/08 Nice Swisher off the Orioles, one year to the day of his previous walk-off.  2012/06/10 Russell Martin from the Mets, 09/21 also Russel Martin off the Athletics, and 10/10 Raul Ibanez from the Orioles. 2013/06/25 Ichiro Suzuki against the Rangers, and 08/11 Brett Garnder from the Tigers.  2014/06/20 Carlos Beltran from the Orioles, 08/24 Brian McCann off the White Sox, 09/04 Chase Headley from the Red Sox, and 09/11 Chris Young off the Rays.

2015/07/03 Brian McCann off the Rays. 2016/04/23 Brett Gardner from the Rays, 06/23 Stalin Castro from the Rockies, 06/29 Didi Gregorius from the Rangers, 09/08 Tyler Austin off the Rays, and 09/28 Mark Teixeira off the Red Sox.  2017/04/28 Matt Holiday against the Orioles, 07/08 Clint Frazier off the Brewers, and 07/28 Brett Gardner off the Rays.  2018/04/26 Gary Sanchez from the Twins, 05/06 Gleyber Torres off the Indians, 06/20 Giancarlo Stanton against the Mariners, and 08/28 Neil Walker from the White Sox.

In the 2019 season, we had only two walk-off home runs.  One was on 08/31 by DJ LeMahieu. We were playing the Oakland A’s.  It was at the Stadium in the bottom of the eleventh inning with the game tied at 3.  DJ came to the plate with no outs and no one on base.  He belted a homer giving Cory Gearrin the win.  The other walk-off was a pinch-hitting situation.  Manager Boone brought out Mike Ford to hit with no one on base at the bottom of the ninth against Oakland with the game tied at 4.  Ford put his name into the history books when he slammed one into the stands, becoming the first Yankees rookie to hit a pinch-hit walk-off home run.

As I said earlier, there is nothing more exciting in baseball than the walk-off home run.  It can change the fans’ perception of any player from so so to being a Yankee hero and inserting his name into the Yankee history books.  The Yankees in their rich history have had 234 walk-off home runs.  Brett Gardner’s three walk-off matches another Yankee great, Reggie Jackson, who also had three while with the New York Yankees.

New York Yankees: We all need a hug, a laugh, and a World Series baseball season!

New York Yankees, James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka

The New York Yankees and all of the world have been suffering now for some time with the ever-present coronavirus pandemic.  This article doesn’t deal with that or the effect on sports and the Yankees.  As sheltering in is getting boring, this is an idle mind look at what a Yankee World Series season could look like.  Late in May, the Red Sox were censured by MLB for cheating in the 2018 season.  They were fined the maximum $5 million.  No other actions were taken as Manager Alex Cora had already been fired.

Fans finally have something to cheer about, it’s July 4th the opening day of the 2020 baseball season.  With changes to the schedule, the New York Yankees open at home against the Houston Astros.  With gathering restrictions lifted and the coronavirus totally eliminated Yankee Stadium is standing room only.  The celebrate the occasion; the Yankees are offering free Yankee caps and Hot Dogs and a Soda for just $2.

Finally, welcoming Yankee fans to the Stadium the traditional message from Bob Shepard was played:  “Ladies and Gentleman welcome to Yankee Stadium.”  Upon hearing his voice via recording the Yankee faithful both cheered wildly while tears of happiness flowed.  After a short pause, public address announcer Paul Oden echos the welcome and announces the opening day celebration.   As part of the opening day celebration, the West Point Glee Club sings the National Anthem as a formation of F-15 jets from Westover Airbase flies over Yankee stadium that has a ruffling Olympic pool size American Flag donning the field.

There is a podium set up at the home base. Michael Kay takes to the podium and introduces Yankee great Bernie Williams.

The crowd starts to cheer “Bernie” “Bernie”, when the crowd settles, Williams gives an emotional speech summarizing all the world and the team has gone through during this difficult time.  At the end of his speech, he says “Let’s play ball” to the roar of the game hungry crowd.    As the cheering fans began to settle the PA announced Derek Jeter as throwing out the first pitch to Yankee catcher Jorge Posada and the crowd erupted again.

The players for both teams took to the baselines.  Over the public address system, the Astros players were announced, the crowd was eerily quiet.  Then each of the Yankees who were all healthy and ready to beat the Astros.  Then the game started as Jose Altuve was announced.  The loudest boos ever heard at Yankee stadium bounced off River Avenue buildings.  The PA warned Yankee fans from throwing anything onto the field.  Starting pitcher Gerrit Cole was expected by fans to bean Altuve with a wild pitch, but it didn’t happen; instead, he struck him out on three pitches much to the delight of Yankee fans.

The game ended after eleven innings with Gerrit Cole having a complete game of 118 pitches.  At the bottom of the eleventh inning, and with the bases loaded with Yankee’s, first baseman Mike Ford walked to the plate.  As I said, the bases were loaded, and reliever Roberto Osuna had the Yankees down to their last out.  Ford swung at the first two pitches missing both, down to the last strike Ford swung and blasted one into the Astros bullpen for the 5-1 Yankee walk-off win.

With the shortened season, the All-Star break was only a 3-day break with no home run Derby in mid-August.  Not surprisingly, the American League won 3-0, and Gerrit Cole was named MVP of the game.  Returning to Yankee Stadium, the Yankees had accumulated a 25-8 record leading the American League East.  The Yankees had already played 4 doubleheader games.  As they approached the “second” half of the season Gleyber Torres and Aaron Judge were tied with 16 homes runs.

The shortened season ended on October 4th.  It was an unusual season for most teams having only 8 days off during the season.  The Yankees won the East Division with a 61-23 record on the 84 game season.  Highlights of the season were  DJ LeMahieu being named MVP for the second year in a row.  Gleyber Torres played all 84 games at short and played beyond expectations.  New outfield star Miguel Andujar played errorless ball in left field as Giancarlo Stanton remained healthy and was mostly a DH.  Proving it was no fluke, Gio Urshela received the Golden Glove award while hitting .277. But the big reveal of the season was during the last game of the regular season when Aaron Judge hit three homers in the game to overtake Torres in the home run race with 42 home runs.

In the postseason the Astros and the Red Sox were at the bottom of the league just above the Baltimore Orioles and the Detroit Tigers.  The ALCS was again between the Minnesota Twins and the New York Yankees and again the Yankees swept them in four games.  In the NLCS the Nationals edged out the Los Angeles Dodgers four games to three.  With the Yankees sweeping the Twins they were fully rested and primed for the World Series.

The Yankees had the best record in baseball so the opening two games of the World Series were played at Yankee Stadium.  Previously the MLB had projected that the entire series would be played in the southern neutral Miami Marlins Park, but by the time of the All-Star game due to fan pressure Commissioner Rob Manfred relented and let the games be played in their respective parks.

The Yankees won game one behind the excellent pitching of Gerrit Cole but lost the second game to the Nationals Max Scherzer.  The games switched to Nationals Park.  Even though DJ LeMahieu hit two homers in game three the Yankees went behind 2-1 games in the series.  The Yankees won the next two games and traveled back to New York where a storm system can cold temperatures threatened to delay both remaining games.

Luckily the system passed just to the south spearing the fans from wet and cold stands.  On the morning of November 7th with clouds still in the background, the sun started to shine on Yankee stadium; the game was scheduled for 2:15 that Saturday.  At 9 am the temperature was 29 degrees.  With the sun and temperature warming to 42 degrees by the game time fans and the Yankees alike would be relatively comfortable compared to what it could have been.  Unfortunately, the Yankees lost the game 1-0 as the Yankee bats were silent.  Now the series was tied up at three games apiece.

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone made the bold decision to start Gerrit Cole in the final game of the series on just three days rest.  The move paid off as he pitched 5 innings and 78 pitches of scoreless ball.  In another bold move, Boone brought Jonathan Loaisga out to pitch the sixth.  Loaisiga struck out the side.  In the bottom facing Stephen Strasberg, he gave up a second homer to Aaron Judge for the 2-0 lead.  Loaisiga struggled in the top of the seventh allowing the Nationals to tie it up at 2.

Jordan Montgomery pitched a scoreless eighth but the Yankees failed to score in the frame.  Boone sent Aroldis Chapman out in the ninth and even though he clocked one of his pitches at 103mph he failed to hold the Nationals as former Yankee Starlin Castro homered off him for the 3-2 lead.  With last licks for the Yankees and the series on the line, the Yankees had to score two to win the series.   The Yankees couldn’t do it, but Aaron Judge hit his third homer of the game, as the game was tied going into the 10th inning.

The New York Yankees replaced Chapman with Zack Britton, Britton finished off the Nationals with just 12 pitches in the inning and issuing just one walk.  Daniel Hudson took the mound in the bottom, and with the new rule had to face three Yankee hitters.  Brett Gardner forced him to throw eleven pitches before he walked him.  Gleyber Torres singled and Gary Sanchez who had a so so season hitting .261 stepped to the plate.  Sanchez had struck out 57 times in the shortened season.  Hudson threw him three balls in a row seemingly unable to find the strike zone.  On his fourth pitch, Sanchez hit his longest home run of the season 465 yards for the Yankee walk-off 6-3 win of the game and their 28th World Championship.  Gerrit Cole was MVP of the series winning two games.

This writer wishes he could hug you all, but please except this elbow tapping to all Yankees fans as we wait out this baseball delay and the uncertainty of these difficult times.  My hope for all of you is to stay safe and remain healthy.

New York Yankees Player Profile: Mike Ford, has he earned it?

New York Yankees, Mike Ford

New York Yankee player profile:  Mike Ford, first baseman

Get to know New York Yankee player Mike Ford. Robert and Barbara Ford are parents to 27-year-old Mike Ford. Ford was born and grew up in the Belle Mead area of New Jersey. When he was 12 and 13, he was part of Montgomery’s Babe Ruth League teams that went to the Cal Ripken and Babe Ruth World Series. He attended Montgomery High School as a freshman before transferring to the Hun School of Princeton.  The Hun School is a private boarding school. He played baseball during college at Princeton University where he played as a first baseman as well as a pitcher. In 2013 he received the distinction of being named both Player and Pitcher of the year at Princeton. He hit .320 and pitched 6-0 that year.

Ford spent seven years in the minor leagues between the Yankees and Mariners. For the Yankees, he played in the minors for Staten Island Yankees, The Trenton Thunder, The River Dogs, Tampa, and the Scranton Wilkes/Barre Rail Riders. In  2012 Ford went undrafted and signed with the Yankees as an undrafted free agent. He spent that whole year with the Staten Island Yankees. In 2014 while with the River Dogs, Ford hit four home runs in one game. He was later promoted to Tampa, where he was named an All-Star for the Florida State League. In the winter of 2017, he was selected in the Rule 5 draft by the Seattle Mariners, but in March of 2018, he was returned to the Yankees.

At the start of 2019,  Ford was invited to spring training as a non-roster player. He was eventually assigned to the Rail Riders but got his big break when he was called up to the majors when Greg Bird was injured. He made his major league debut in April and got his first hit on April 21. He hit his first home run on April 23rd. He had traveled back and forth from Scranton to the Stadium several times during that year, but near the end of the season, he remained at the stadium batting .200 with five home runs in 85 at-bats. In a blow out by the Indians Ford was sent out to pitch due to his pitching experience at Princeton. He gave up two home runs, but pitched three innings, including a 1-2-3 ninth inning, he was somewhat amused by the experience. With Bird and Voit both out due to injuries, Ford alternated with DJ LeMahieu at first base.

In an interview by the New York Post’s  Steve Serby Ford was asked how he would sum up his journey to the big leagues.  Ford replied:

“It was a long, long journey. A tough one, too. It’s something I would never give back. Definitely hard work, determination, and just kind of the will of not quitting. … There were definitely times where I was very close [to quitting]. I had very good people around me that supported me and kind of kept me in line.”

He was also asked what drives him today?

“Living up to the player that I know I can be. I think [that’s] what a lot of guys strive for. It took me a long time to get here, but keeping the faith and getting here and being a confident hitter and being confident in what I do, I just want to prove that I can be that player that I know I can be.”

By the end of the season, Ford had become a fan favorite and was making a name for himself in the front office.  He ended the season playing in fifty games with 143 plate appearances.  He hit to a batting average of .259 with 12 home runs, that’s one home run in every four games.

In a game on September 1, 2019, against the Oakland Athletics, it was the ninth inning in a game tied at 4.  The Yankees came all the way back to tie the game.  Mike Ford stepped to the plate and on a 3 and 2 count hit the first walk-off home run of his career, giving the Yankees the win.

In this spring training, his performance has probably given the first base starting job to Luke Voit.  Ford in the abbreviated spring training only hit .194 in 31 at-bats.  He does, however, have a .641 OPS.  If he is not on the starting roster, you can be sure he will be called up at some time during the season.  When not playing at the Stadium Ford lives near the Rail Riders stadium and is not married nor is there any news of a steady girlfriend.

New York Yankees: Could and Should Mike Ford Receive More Games Played?

New York Yankees, Mike Ford

Short, sweet and straight to the point…please allow the 2nd coming of Babe Ruth, Mike Ford to participate in additional games once opening day arrives.

During the New York Yankees 6th exhibition game vs the Tampa Bay Rays, Ford shined bright when it mattered most. In 2 plate appearances, Ford collected 2 hits, including a 2-run bomb to right field.

In the 2019 season, Ford slashed .259/.350/.559/.909 with a .372 wOBA, 134 wRC+ and a 0.8 fWAR in 163 plate appearances. Although his defense isn’t superior by any stretch of the imagination, his metrics prove he’s a more reliable defender than Luke Voit.

In 217.0 innings played, Ford posted a -1 DRS and a -1.5 UZR, while Voit posted a -6 DRS and a -3.9 UZR in 706.1 innings played. If you want to dive further into advanced analytics, Ford posted 2 outs above average, while Voit posted -6 outs above average.

In the 2019 season, Voit slashed .263/.378/.464/.842 with a .360 wOBA, 126 wRC+ and a 1.7 fWAR in 510 plate appearances. I’m not a math magician, but I can acknowledge that a 0.8 fWAR in 163 plate appearances is significantly more productive than a 1.7 fWAR in 510 plate appearances.

Assuming Ford didn’t experience a massive slump and received just as many plate appearances as Voit, he could’ve produced anywhere from a 2.0 fWAR season to a 3.0 fWAR season just from his offensive production alone.

Ford doesn’t have to be in a position to start every game, as Voit will be the primary 1B, but more opportunities would be ideal. How would this work?

With Giancarlo Stanton questionable to begin the season and the general concern surrounding his history of injuries, placing Ford as a backup 1B/DH is a practical solution.

Miguel Andújar won’t start every day at DH and Voit won’t start every day at 1B. While you could make the same argument for Clint Frazier at DH, Ford’s lefty power bat is essential for blending and providing variety to the lineup.

In the worst case scenario, assuming Frazier improves upon his defensive abilities, him and Mike Tauchman can rotate playing LF. Either or, the Yankees lineup is stacked with reliable hitters who will make a significant impact moving forward.

 

 

Yankees: Clint Frazier, Tyler Wade, and Mike Ford make their case for that 26 roster spot

New York Yankees, Mike Ford

Yankees’ Clint Frazier making the case with his bat:

This year rosters around baseball will expand from the traditional 25 to 26 players, and Clint Frazier wants that spot.  Frazier, so far in the last two years, has had a checkered time with the big team.  At times ablaze at the plate and at times a little leaguer in the outfield.  There is no question that Frazier is a formidable force with his quick swinging bat. He slashed .267/.317/.489, with 12 home runs in 225 at-bats in 2019.  Where Frazier has to prove himself is in his defense.  This season may be his last chance to prove to the Yankees that he belongs at the major league level. 

Several players, including Manager Aaron Boone, believes in Frazier.  Boone said: “Fraz has the chance to be a great player in this league, we want to be there for him, continue to help him grow in this game.” How much playing time if he makes the team will depend on the health of the outfield with Aaron Hicks still rehabbing from Tommy John Surgery, questions with Stanton durability, and a possible sore shoulder from Judge.  As Frazier fights for the extra spot on the roster he said: 

“…So I think this spring training, if I could go out there and I do what I can do offensively and I do what I know that I can defensively, then maybe I’ll put myself in a different spot to not only focus on the 26th man.”

When Frazier was spoken too, he seemed to want to talk about baseball and not his run-ins with reporters or any other distractions he may have caused.

“But I also believe that if I lose who I am, it probably affects you on the field, and that’s the biggest thing, is trying to be yourself without becoming a distraction. And as we all know, distractions can linger. And I don’t want to go through distractions. I don’t want to deal with that anymore….I’m here to have people just talk about baseball. I don’t need the rest of the stuff. This isn’t the Yankees’ reality TV show.”

So far, Frazier has shown that his offseason work to improve his outfield play, may have had an impact.  With Aaron Judge yet to start playing, Clint has been playing right field with no errors.  He also has made an offseason adjustment in his stance at the plate.  He claims the new left heal up position gives him more control.  In yesterday’s game against the Rays, he homered over the stands in left field.

Tyler Wade wants to be a full-time player:

Tyler Dean Wade is 25 years old this year, and after doing the New York Scranton shuttle for the last few years, he would like to remain at Yankee Stadium as a full-time player. He has a good case for that this year, possibly his best suit to keep wearing the pinstripes.  Yankees scouts took notice of Wade and particularly liked his athleticism. They thought so much of him that they selected him in the fourth round of the 2013 MLB draft when he was just eighteen.

He made his pro debut in the rookie Gulf Coast League. At the end of the season, he was batting .309 with 12 RBI’s and the Yankees promoted him to the Staten Island Yankees. In the same year, he also played at the Charleston River Dogs and for the Trenton Thunder. He ended playing in 129 games for an average of .273 with 51 RBI’s.  He started 2015 with the Tampa A team but ended the season back with the Thunder. Between the two teams, he played in 127 games for an average of .262 with 31 RBI’s and with three home runs. He was an invitee to 2016 spring training but spent the season with the Thunder.

Wade made his major league debut on June 27, 2017, but found himself on that shuttle back and forth.  He hit .310 for the Rail Riders but .155 for the Yankees in just 30 games. During the 2018 season, he was back and forth between the teams again. During the winter, he played in the Arizona fall league, where he worked on his outfield skills.   He started the 2019 season with the Rail Riders but has been up and down again. While at Scranton, Wade has been honing his outfield skills while his natural position is shortstop. As it turns out, Wade has progressed into a “Super Utility Player” even playing second base. He still isn’t the greatest hitter.

Last season, he had his best batting average at the stadium  .247, which is a 20% increase from 2018.  That appears to be a trend as he has improved that average 20% each year, if he continues at that rate, it is reasonable to assume he will be in the well over a .277 average, and the Yankees would be pleased with that.  The only thing that has been holding him back is his lack of hitting.  For the Yankees, Wade provides a player that can play anywhere in the outfield with more than adequate defense.  He can back up DJ LeMahieu to give him some rest for what the Yankees feel will be a very long season.  Maybe most importantly, Wade is a shortstop who can certainly replace Gleyber Torres, should he need rest or have an injury.  Add to that he is the fastest Yankee on the base paths.  In spring training so far, he is showing off his stuff, stealing three bases, and Yesterday he hit a home run out of George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Mike Ford reminds Yankees decision-makers of his power:

In yesterday’s game in Tampa, Mike Ford reminded the front office that he was here and wants to stay here.  Ford will be fighting for that first base job that he will likely lose to Luke Voit.  So the only way he can impress is through his bat.  Ford spent seven years in the minor leagues between the Yankees and Mariners. For the Yankees, he played in the minors for Staten Island, Trenton Thunder, The River Dogs, Tampa, and Scranton Wilkes/Barre. In the 2012 Ford when undrafted and signed with the Yankees as an undrafted free agent. He spent that whole year with the Staten Island Yankees.

In 2014 while with the River Dogs, Ford hit four home runs in one game. He was later promoted to Tampa, where he was named an All-Star for the Florida State League. In the winter of 2017, he was selected in the Rule 5 draft by the Seattle Mariners, but in March of 2018, he was returned to the Yankees.  At the start of 2019, Ford was invited to spring training as a non-roster player. He was eventually assigned to the Rail Riders but got his big break when he was called up to the majors when Greg Bird was injured. He made his major league debut in April and got his first hit on April 21. He hit his first home run on April 23rd. He traveled back and forth from Scranton to the Stadium several times during the year.

With all the Yankee injuries, Ford found himself playing in the last 52 games of the season.  His batting average was .259, but what impressed manager Boone more than anything else was his power.  He, in that short span the hit 12 home runs, that’s a home run in every four games.   (that’s 40 home runs for a full season). Yesterday in Tampa, he smashed a home run well into the centerfield stands.  Playing in just a few innings and only three games in spring training, that home run may power him into that 26th roster spot.

 

 

New York Yankees 2020 Season Preview: Mike Ford

New York Yankees, Mike Ford

After breaking out for the New York Yankees in 2019, first-baseman Mike Ford is ready for more in 2020.

With the extent of injuries to the team, Ford was signed to a major-league deal in April and had a lot of success in his limited time spent up. He hit .259 with 12 home runs and 25 RBIs in just 143 at-bats. His slugging was .559, and his OPS was an impressive .909.

Ford has an incredible story, and it’s impressive that he’s made it this far. In 2013, he was the Ivy League Player of the Year as a pitcher and also hit .320 in the process. Despite that, he went undrafted, and the Yankees signed him to a deal. He slowly climbed the ranks and was better every year. In 2019 when he wasn’t with the Yankees, he hit over .300 with 23 home runs for AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

2020 Expectations:

It’s increasingly likely that Mike Ford will break camp with the Yankees and have a significant role on the team.

Luke Voit is expected to start at first base, but Ford will likely see his name in there quite often. Even when he isn’t starting, his lefty power makes him valuable as a pinch-hitter or DH dependent on match-ups. Miguel Andujar will also be playing a little first base and will be a frequent DH option, but with the roster size now expanded to 26 players, it shouldn’t be a problem.

If Ford can provide the Yankees in 2020 what he did in 2019, that’d be great. His stats are trending upward and he could be a valuable member of the team for years to come.

New York Yankees: 2 Most Underrated Players on the Yankees

New York Yankees, Tyler Wade

The New York Yankees had a number of surprises last season when several of their big players went down with injuries. There were guys coming up from triple-A that were putting up unbelievable numbers and being a big part of the team’s success. There are a few players this season that are wild cards for the Yankees and are more valuable then people realize.

Tyler Wade

One of the few lefties on the Yankees roster, Tyler Wade’s talent is underappreciated. Wade will never be a high batting average hitter but is so valuable when on the field. He’s regarded to be the best defensive player in the entire Yankee organization. Not to mention, his speed is a big bonus, especially during the postseason. Stealing a bag or stretching a long single into a double is more valuable then people realize.

I expect Wade to be an integral part of the Yankee team this season. I don’t expect him to be a starting player, but his bat off the bench to pinch-hit or to enter the game for his defensive will be huge for the team.

Mike Ford

Another guy who’s been under the radar for most of his career, Mike Ford has the potential to be a big part of the New York Yankees. He’s got big pop coming off the bench and could be huge in a pinch hitter spot, or a DH role. Everyone remembers his pinch-hit walk-off last season against the Oakland Athletics. I think if Ford were to get more consistent plate appearances he would be big for the Yankees.

 

The Yankees’ backup first baseman shouldn’t be Mike Ford

New York Yankees, Mike Ford

The New York Yankees aren’t hiding their plans for spring training and the regular season, as first baseman, Luke Voit, will be the primary options moving forward. Voit, who suffered a sports hernia last summer, was unable to return to full form in the latter portion of the year and failed to feature during the postseason.

Despite his falloff post-injury, Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone remained steady regarding Voit, stating:

“I think Luke Voit comes in healthy, and I think even though he got back and I think was healthy to some degree, still probably wasn’t quite all the way Luke Voit the second half of the season. Luke has proven to be a really impactful hitter and confident that the surgery he had this winter was a successful one and that he will come in and really lay claim to that position,” Boone said at the Winter Meetings.

Voit’s slugger mentality and power make him a must-start for a home run centric Yankees team. Alternatively, they have Mike Ford, who posted adequate numbers in 2019 during his first campaign at the top level. He could be a reliable option moving forward to back up Voit, who has suffered through his fair share of injuries the last two seasons.

However, the Yankees have taken precautions to mitigate soft tissue injuries with the hiring of Eric Cressey and the turnover of the strength and conditioning department.

The New York Yankees have more than enough talent at first base:

Aside from Ford, who can fill in for Voit if need be, the better option is DJ LeMahieu, who posted incredible numbers at first last season in limited action.

“Obviously Mike Ford really had an impact for us last year as well, so he could be in that mix a little bit. And DJ, his ability to bounce around is huge. But I’m confident that Luke Voit is an impact player for us.”

Before the 2019 season, LeMahieu has featured at first base just once. He played in 40 games last year for the Yankees, posting a .992 fielding percentage with 24 completed double plays. Incorporating his incredible offensive production into his value, if the Yankees have a better option to plug into second base (Gleyber Torres, Thairo Estrada), they should prioritize that move over pulling Ford up.