Saturday, September 28, 2019

Ford v Voit...

Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac, Getty Images
The Battle for First Base…

I guess you could call ‘Ford v Voit’, the prequel or sequel to the upcoming movie, Ford v Ferrari, starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale. The only difference is that the stars of Ford v Voit are Mike Ford and Luke Voit. I know, when the playoffs start, D.J. LeMahieu will be the first baseman for the New York Yankees. Undoubtedly, Voit will be on the playoff roster but the question on every Yankee fan’s mind is whether Ford is more deserving.

Since he returned from the Injured List on August 30th, Luke Voit has hit 2 home runs with 8 RBIs. He has 16 hits in 90 plate appearances with .208 batting average, .322 OBP, .351 SLG, .297 wOBA, and 83 wRC+. His strike-out percentage is 30.0%.

Given Mike Ford has not had the same number of plate appearances over the same time period due to limited play, let’s take Ford’s view back to August 11th, which gives him 91 plate appearances for comparable comparison. Since that time, Ford has 26 hits, 9 home runs and 17 RBIs, and has scored the same number of runs as Voit (11).  His batting line is .310 batting average, .363 OBP, .690 SLG, .427 wOBA, and 171 wRC+. His strikeout percentage is only 14.3%. 

Photo Credit: Tony Gutierrez, AP
Based on numbers alone, Ford seems to be the guy. He has shown a knack for the big hit and I don’t think I’ve seen many guys who are as appreciative of being a big leaguer as Mike Ford. I suspect the Yankees will go with Voit over Ford based on the larger body of work, but there’s no doubt in my mind they would be better off with Ford, especially with his proven ability to pinch hit successfully. I am not convinced Voit is completely healthy. Look, I wish Voit was tearing the cover off the ball and making the first base competition a non-issue like he did with Greg Bird. But he’s not, and right now, at this moment in time, Ford is the better player. Regardless of the choice made by the Yankees, I am glad we have LeMahieu to cover first. Gio Urshela at third is better than having Voit or Ford at first, allowing the Yankees to use D.J. at the position of need. I don’t envy the Yankees for the upcoming roster decisions. I am sure they will make the right choices to put the Yankees in the best possible situation as we move into October.  

Like many, I was disappointed with the lackluster play by the Yankees this past week when they dropped both games of the two-game set in Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, FL to the Tampa Bay Rays. I bet the Cleveland Indians were disappointed as well as it gave the Rays the Wild Card advantage and set the stage for the Rays to eliminate the Indians last night when the Rays beat the Toronto Blue Jays and Cleveland fell to the Bryce Harper-less NL Wild Card Washington Nationals. With their pitching staff, the Indians would have been a threat in a short series but now we’ll never know. Meanwhile, there could be playoff baseball at the ugly warehouse known as Tropicana Field. The Oakland A’s lost last night so the Rays and A’s have the same record at 96-64. The A’s hold the tie-breaker with the season series advantage, but with two games left, the Rays have the potential to top the A’s by at least one game which would bring post-season baseball to the junk tank that no one attends. If for no other reason than the teams’ respective fans, I hope the Oakland A’s beat the Rays in the Wild Card game next week. I think the A’s have the best chance of defeating the Houston Astros which, if the Yankees can advance past the ALDS, would give them home field advantage.  

Despite the hate he receives on Social Media from Yankee fans, I am glad Giancarlo Stanton is a Yankee. He’s finally healthy, and was 3-for-3 last night with a monster home run and a couple of walks. He can be an October difference-maker. We should appreciate what Stanton can be for this team. The one-time NL MVP can carry a team on his back. His presence helps those around him. There’s nothing wrong with a guy that can force pitchers to throw better pitches to Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. I am content watching Stanton’s bat shut up the haters. He remains one of the game’s best and most feared players.

Photo Credit: Tim Heitman, USA TODAY Sports
I was a little concerned when the Yankees pulled James Paxton after an inning last night but the team doesn't seem concerned about the tight glute that caused the Yankees to protect their ace. Hopefully this won't be a recurring problem as the Yankees clearly need Paxton to be successful.

Photo Credit: Tony Gutierrez, AP
The Yankees took the team home run lead over the Minnesota Twins last night, with six bombs compared to Minnesota’s two dingers in a weather-shortened game. The Twins had entered the day with 301 home runs, and the Yankees were two behind at 299. The day ended with the Yankees ahead, 305 to 303. This is probably a stat the fans want more than the players, but still, it’s fun to watch. It seems like when the Twins extend the current MLB record for team homers, people act like the Twins won the seventh game of the World Series. When the Yankees surge ahead, it is the quiet rumble of a late March spring training game. It’s amazing to think when the Minnesota Twins travel to Yankee Stadium next week, the ALDS will feature teams that have combined for over 600 home runs.  

I admit I was one of Brett Gardner’s biggest detractors last off-season. I was ready to move on and give the backup outfield role to younger players. I certainly never expected Gardy to hit 28 home runs. He’s been so invaluable this season with the plethora of injuries. As a result, I’d like to see the Yankees bring Gardy back next year on another one-year deal. As a team leader, he brings so many intangibles to the clubhouse. There’s no way to expect another 28 home runs next season, but his leadership is invaluable, especially with CC Sabathia soon stepping away. Last off-season, I was ready for Clint Frazier to be the fourth outfielder. This off-season, I will be anxiously awaiting the deal that puts Frazier in another uniform. Moving forward, I do feel Mike Tauchman will be the fourth outfielder but there’s room on the team for Brett Gardner too, especially with active rosters increasing from 25 to 26 next season.  

Photo Credit: Tim Heitman, USA TODAY Sports
Maybe when the Yankees ship Frazier away, they should include Chance Adams. He’s been such a disappointment. He was handed an 11-run lead last night in the bottom of the 9th, and he proceeded to give up four runs on a couple of homers until he was mercifully replaced by Nestor Cortes, Jr, who only needed three pitches to record two outs and close out the game. I have no trust in Adams and I think I’ve seen enough. Hopefully the Yankees have too. I feel much better with Michael King and Deivi Garcia as the arms of the future. Adams has had his chance and he’s failed.   

It’s hard to believe that this is the final regular season weekend of the year. It seems like we were just in Spring Training with Troy Tulowitzki pimping the home run off his former team, the Toronto Blue Jays. But 103 wins later, the regular season is over in less than 48 hours. I can’t say that I would have ever envisioned how this season would play out or that the Yankees would have more than 100 wins with the record-setting number of injuries the team has suffered. But here we are. Last season, our social media feeds were overflowing with Red Sox posts but they’ve been largely silent for most of this season. Note to the last man out of Fenway Park tomorrow, please shut out the lights. The stadium’s services are no longer needed this year and that feels great to say. 

I am very proud of the 2019 New York Yankees, and I look forward to next week’s ALDS against the Minnesota Twins. I don’t buy the claims the Yankees own the Twins. All bets are off, and I am sure the Twins will come to play. Hopefully the Yankees emerge from the series with three wins and an invitation to play the Houston Astros, Oakland A’s or Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Championship Series. But first, Mission Beat Minnesota is the focus. Hopefully the Twins continue the Minnesota tradition of my beloved Vikings, the failure to win the big games.   

Let’s Go Yankees!

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