Since being called up in 2015, Yankees first baseman Greg Bird has had a roller coaster of a time in the majors. Unfortunately, Bird has had difficulty staying on the field. However, when he is healthy and on the field, he has produced. So should fans be excited or afraid for the 25-year-old in 2018?
In 2015, the middle of the New York Yankees’ batting order was flying high. Designated hitter Alex Rodriguez had returned to form after missing all of 2014 due to suspension and first baseman Mark Teixeira was in the midst of one of his best seasons in pinstripes. But the team suffered a crushing blow in September when it was announced that Teixeira suffered a fracture in his right shin.
With a void in the lineup, the Yankees looked to the sky. It wasn’t a plane, it wasn’t Superman. No, it was a bird: Greg Bird, to be exact.
Bird took the Bronx by storm and in his brief run in 2015, he showed he was undoubtedly the first baseman of the future. In 157 at-bats, he compiled a .261 average with 11 home runs and 31 RBI. For a 22-year-old rookie getting his first real taste of pro ball, those are very respectful numbers.
Following the season, Bird had a nagging shoulder injury looked at and discovered he had a tear in his right labrum. He needed surgery that would keep him on the shelf for all of 2016. Now fans would have to wait another year to get a full glimpse of their promising future at first.
Bird came into spring training of 2017 with a purpose. He needed to prove why the Yankees’ organization had so much faith in him and why he was still an integral part of the team’s future. It would be an understatement to say that Bird killed it in the spring. In just 51 at-bats, he hit .451 with eight monster home runs and 15 runs batted in.
With spring training ending and the regular season about to begin, fans were excited to see the success transfer over. But something was up: Bird wasn’t the same. In 60 at-bats, he only hit one home run, had three RBI and only hit .100. It was then discovered he had suffered a right ankle injury and entire 2017 season was in doubt. This is where the red flags began for fans.
Due to the unfortunate fact that Bird had to face two long-term injuries in such a short span of time, he began getting labeled as injury prone and unreliable. Many doubted he would come back at all in 2017 and even began questioning if he was worthy of the endless support from the upper brass. Many fans were no longer excited to see Bird and some still feel that way today.
These fans are completely and utterly wrong. All Yankee fans should be looking forward to witnessing more of Greg Bird.
Bird returned at the end of August and picked right up where he left off before the ankle injury. After his stint on the disabled list, Bird hit eight home runs and had 25 RBI with a .253 average in just 87 at-bats. Fans may look quickly at this and dismiss it. But they have to look again. It all goes beyond the numbers.
In nearly half of the at bats he had in 2015, Bird nearly replicated those numbers in 2017. If he can do that in about a month of baseball, fans should be salivating thinking of the possibilities of what a full season of Bird could bring.
While Bird has as many long-term DL stints as he does good stretches of major league baseball, those good stretches are too good to overlook. Any player can suffer a serious injury at any moment. Sadly, Bird has just done it twice in a quick time. But this shouldn’t discourage fans from him.
Will Bird go on to be a great player? Nobody knows for sure. Should his familiarity with the disabled list keep fans from being excited about watching him play? Not in the slightest.
He’s too good when he is on the field and has plenty of time to prove he can stay there. With him being only 24 years old and finishing strong in 2017, all Yankee fans need to be ready to see what he can do in a full season.