2013 MLB Statistics: .236/.308/.311, 3 HR, 70 wRC+ 0.7 fWAR
2014 Contract Status: 1st year arbitration eligible
With Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter recovering from injury, and the newly acquired Kevin Youkilis a question mark with chronic back issues, it seemed a near certainty that the Yankees were going to play Jayson Nix significantly more than his talent would dictate in 2013. And sure enough that was exactly the case as Nix had over 300 plate appearances for just the second time in his MLB career. You can't fault a fringe MLB player like Nix for the Yankees front office dropping a starting job on his lap, but even by his paltry standards it wasn't a particularly good year for the utilityman.
After Youkilis lasted all of a few games at third, Nix shifted over to the hot corner. And after Eduardo Nunez was also consumed by the injury monster, Nix bounced back to short. It was a back and forth affair for Nix as Brian Cashman acquired all manner of third-basemen and shortstops in an effort to find one that was not completely awful. But none of them were able to unseat Nix, whose adequate defense and noodle bat somehow managed to be superior to those who tried to replace him in the lineup. Hang your head in shame, Chris Nelson.
As July came, even Nix would succumb to the plague of injuries that beset much of the 2013 team when he was sidelined with a strained hamstring for almost a full month. He made a triumphant return for all of 14 games when, after a dramatic game-winning hit the day before, he had his hand broken by a pitch. It was to be his last appearance in 2013. He would finish with a wOBA nine points below his career average but a career high 13 stolen bases. Nix was almost adequate at times, so he earns a slightly below average grade from yours truly. Also, it turns out Nix's frequency of failures with RISP was not a PSB-constructed myth: he had RISP at a higher rate than Robinson Cano (91/303 PA for Nix,172/681 PA for Cano) and had a ghastly 49 wRC+ in those situations. If clutch is a thing, 'ol Nixy didn't have it.
With his arbitration-eligibility and general usefulness, I would suspect Nix to make a triumphant return to the Yankees in 2014. Joe Girardi seems to have an affinity for him and players that have defensive flexibility while hitting better than a pitcher are not without value. Brendan Ryan is a superior option as a backup shortstop thanks to his defensive mastery, but I see no reason why the Yankees wouldn't entertain bringing back both. Hopefully Nix can offer something closer to his 87 wRC+ in 2012 when relegated to a severely diminished role. Simply put, you're in trouble if Jayson Nix starts half of your games. But that doesn't mean he's totally useless.