Uh oh! The naysayers are out in full force when it comes to Greg Bird’s poor performance for the New York Yankees so far in spring training. But, guess what? He’ll be absolutely fine.
Much like the sun will rise every morning, the New York Yankees can always count on someone doubting the oft-injured Greg Bird based on his offensive numbers.
With a young career already shortened by injury, you can’t really blame the doubters. Bird has yet to prove that he can go through a full season unscathed. His first appearance in the majors was in August of 2015, where he relieved an injured Mark Teixeira. 2016 marked a Bye-Bye, Birdie year for him, as he missed the entire season with a torn labrum. 2017 was the year of missed opportunities for Bird, who struggled to open the season, feel victim to injury and then emerged as the postseason hero.
Mix his inability to complete a season with his recent spring training slump and you’ve got yourself an angry mob calling for Billy McKinney to get his shot at major league success where Bird failed.
Every year we start this same argument and every single year, that argument gets squashed. Bird may not have shown his full potential just yet but the flashes of excellence he has shown in three years is enough to believe in him.
In 2017 spring training, Greg Bird launched eight home runs, tied for the league-lead with potential future Yankee Bryce Harper. However, the excitement quickly faded as he batted .100 in 19 games to start the regular season.
This spring, Bird has played in nine games and has only recorded two hits for a .095 batting average. So naturally, the haters have come out to play, expressing major concerns over the future of Greg Bird’s hitting for the Yankees.
It’s easy to look at his struggles over his successes because those struggles are so prominent. However, those successes are exactly the reason why we know that Greg Bird will be okay, despite the poor numbers shown thus far this season.
I mean, think about it. Bird came back in 2017 and with consistent at-bats in the second half of the season, he came alive at the dish. He hit .253 with eight home runs in the 29 games he played in during the second half.
But perhaps the reason we should continue to believe in Greg Bird is because of one appearance in the ALDS. Against the Cleveland Indians, facing elimination at Yankee Stadium, Bird took Andrew Miller deep off a fastball to give the Yankees the 1-0 victory.
Yes, Bird singlehandedly was able to stave off elimination. However, he also became only the second lefty to hit a home run off of a Miller fastball in the last three seasons, according to R.J. Anderson of CBS Sports.
While hitting a home run off of Andrew Miller is difficult, going lefty against lefty is ten times more difficult. Yet Bird, who was regarded as a bust at the beginning of the 2017 season, ended up saving the season with a confident swing that instantly shut up the haters.
A new season, a new round of haters are around. While Game 3 of the 2017 ALDS is in the past, Bird’s impact and approach in the postseason doesn’t just go away. That home run was no fluke; it took skill and grace under pressure to make it happen.
And that wasn’t the only time he came through during the playoffs. Time and time again he was on point, especially when other players were struggling in the lineup. Greg Bird kept the entire team afloat during the postseason.
Sure, Bird is struggling right now. However, once he gets back to playing every day and getting those consistent at-bats in, he’ll return back to form. The sweet-swinging lefty will get the job done, regardless of his recent performance.
Much like we said with Aaron Judge, give it time. We saw Judge come into his own last season and with Bird getting his prime opportunity this year, he’ll be just fine.
21 at-bats is not an indicator of a poor season up ahead. However, a calm and composed Greg Bird can, and will, become the hero we need all season long. Book it.