There has been an effective young presence on the 2016 New York Yankees in Rob Refsnyder and his team would be wise to keep giving him reps.
Drafted out of the University of Arizona in the fifth round of the 2012 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft as a right fielder, Refsnyder has had a lot of adjusting to do throughout his professional baseball career.
Shortly after being the drafted, New York transformed him into a second baseman and due to a late season injury to Stephen Drew – everyone’s favorite Yankee – Refsnyder started in the 2015 Wild Card game against the Houston Astros at second base.
Then, prior to Spring Training, he was summoned to attempt some third base where he played in Tampa and then at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. There, he went back and fourth from second, third, and right field before being called up to play first base – a position he had never played before – when he was called upon to heal the wounds left by injuries in the Bronx.
“This kid has had to adapt to a lot—a couple of different position changes, but he’s really pushed himself on here because he’s made himself more versatile,” manager Joe Girardi told NJ Media. “He gives you really good at-bats and runs the bases well. So we’ve really liked what he’s done.”
He has become the New York Yankees’ version of the versatile Ben Zobrist while giving his team a load of production.
Through 31 games played here in 2016, the 25-year old owns a .276/.337/.368 slash line with a .705 on-base plus slugging percentage featuring eight extra base hits.
No, he has not yet hit a home run but Refsnyder has impressed everybody with a dynamic glove (total .985 fielding percentage in young career) to correspond with his red-hot bat.
The bottom line here is, it appears as though this kid is the real deal. And as the 2016 New York Yankees enter their most important stretch, they must use him as the everyday right fielder.
Why? Look no further than the anemic production brought to you by Aaron Hicks.
Traded for in order to bring a dynamic glove to the outfield as well as a formidable threat against lefties, justified by a .301 batting average and .870 OPS against them in 2015, he has literally done the opposite.
In 75 games played in navy blue pinstripes this season, the right fielder is batting three points below the Mendoza line, .155 against left-handed pitching, and despite his four defensive runs saved, his overall WAR currently sits at -0.4.
To put the icing on the cake on how bad the Yankees are with Hicks in the lineup, they own a 22-29 (.431) record in games in which he starts compared to their 15-9 (.625) record when Refsnyder starts.
It’s just not breaking news anymore. Refsnyder’s bat featuring a slightly overperforming glove is more dynamic than having Hicks use his plus arm in the outfield but a do nothing but clog up a spot in the lineup.
That, and having the All-Star 39-year old Carlos Beltran be the everyday designated hitter in contrast to Alex Rodriguez depressingly try to prove there’s something left in the tank means for a much better lineup.
Here’s the Yankees opportunity to get it right as they essentially have three weeks to turn their season around.
With their record knotted up at 44-44 entering the second half, New York sits 7.5 games out of first place in the American League East and 5.5 games back of a Wild Card spot.
From now until the season concludes on October 2, the mediocre Yankees need to leapfrog over six teams just to play in a one-game elimination playoff contest.
If they can take it to the Boston Red Sox and then to the first place Baltimore Orioles following the All-Star break, then the Bronx Bombers could be in business. The only way they do that, however, is if they realize that Mr. Versitility is the best option at this very moment.
Hicks has turned a bad start into a bad season while Refsnyder is making all the right moves in all the right places.