Yankees Greg Bird: Flying Under the Radar in 2017?
Greg Bird emerged for the Yankees in 2015, but missed all of the season due to a shoulder injury. Could he be one of the most overlooked fantasy players heading into the 2017 season?
The Yankees defied expectations this season after dishing away their best assets at the trade deadline. A large part of the Yankees attempted playoff push, were the super human efforts from Gary Sanchez. But, before Sanchez’s performance in 2016, Greg Bird had done nearly the same thing in 2015.
Greg Bird will be a huge part of the Yanks future moving forward, as he is the heir apparent at first base. After back to back solid campaigns at A and AA ball, Bird found himself debuting for the Yanks last August.
He got off to a slow start, but a 9 HR/21 RBI effort in September, allowed him to finish with a, .261/11 HR/31 RBI/.871 OPS line. Bird settled in and looked like a future start in the making.
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Unfortunately, he would tear his labrum in his shoulder this past offseason and it would cost him the entire 2016 season. Labrum injuries are always concerning, luckily with Bird being a first basemen though, he should be able to return to full force.
One positive sign in his recovery, is that Bird is currently playing in the Arizona Fall League. He is still not cleared to throw at full speed yet, but swinging the bat does not seem to a problem, he smacked a RBI double in his first game.
He only has 178 major league at bats under his belt, but there is a lot to like.
Looking at his batted ball data from 2015, albeit an abbreviated sample, he had a 22% LD, 41% Med, and 45% Hard contact rates. Even though his Med and Hard rates are impossible to maintain, fantasy owners can see just how well Bird can barrel up the ball when he gets things going.
He is a career .282 hitter in the minors, and has shown to have patience at the plate, he even has a 107 BB minor league season under his belt. During his first stint in the majors, he posted a 53 K:19 BB ratio, which teeters right on the verge of becoming a red flag.
The Yankees say that Bird will fight for the starting job with Tyler Austin this spring, but Bird is the better hitter, and even a potential open DH spot for the Yanks this season, will ensure he gets at bats.
First base is always one of the deeper positions in fantasy baseball, and that will not change next season. Bird is not within the top flight 1B yet, but he has the potential to flirt with that status already. Yankee Stadium should become a haven for Bird as well, making him a clear 20+ HR threat.
Fantasy owners should not forget about the excitement that surrounded Bird before his injury. He has a clearer path to playing time, will be a part of a solid lineup, and has shown owners what he can do. Look for Greg Bird to establish himself as one of the best young players in MLB next season.