Let’s move from the grass to the dirt and look into what some Yankees infielders will be listing as their New Year’s resolutions in 2017. Of course, we could keep this post short and sweet and make everybody’s resolution to be more like Didi Gregorius, but I have a quota to meet here.
We’ll start with Sir Didi, and I’ll keep this one quick. Gregorius was fantastic in 2016, reaching the 20 home run mark to compliment his valuable defensive abilities. The replacement to Derek Jeter has been steadily improving since putting on the pinstripes, so his resolution should be to continue the climb into the Yankees’ most valuable position player.
Recommendation: Also continue to climb in Twitter activity
Didi’s double play partner was all over the 2016 spectrum, experiencing various highs and lows throughout the season. This has become the norm for Castro during his career, but his 2016 did end on a high note. If Castro can carry that into 2017 will be the big question, or will he continue his up-and-down trend?
A good place for Castro to start when picking a resolution for 2017 would be his plate discipline. Castro swung at 36.7% of pitches out of the zone, which put him in the top 20 in the major leagues. Opposing pitchers gave Castro a steady diet of balls in the dirt, and Castro continued to bite. Castro should spend the spring working on recognizing breaking balls diving out of the zone, and remember he is not swinging a golf club.
Recommendation: Instead of doing karate in the garage with Didi, have him hit you groundballs
Another year, another underwhelming performance from the Yankees’ third baseman. Headley stumbled out of the gate in 2016 to say the least, but to his credit, he did rebound through the middle months of the season while the rest of the Yankees were disappointing. Headley began to decline again towards the end of the season, but he was battling injury during that time so let’s not put too much investment in that.
Headley improved defensively in 2016 after a confusing 2015 season at the hot corner which I would like to call a fluke. For Headley, the focus should be at the plate and working to avoid another slow start to the season. We know he will never return to 2012 form, but avoiding an awful start to the season can help his confidence and keep him slightly above the league average at third base.
Recommendation: If all else fails, start a petition to have the month of April removed from the calendar
Gary Sanchez made it easy to forget that Bird had his own welcoming party to the major leagues in 2015, granted not on the same level as Sanchez. Still, Bird gave Yankees fans hope for the future at first base with his 11 home runs during the second half of the 2015 season. Suffering a torn labrum was a major setback in 2016, but Bird appears to be on track to make his return in 2017.
For Bird, the resolution is simple. Stay healthy, and provide the offense with some much needed infield power. As part of a lineup that will be craving the long ball, Bird will prove to be one of the most pivotal pieces of the 2017 Yankees.
Recommendation: Sort out whatever mess is going on with the Player’s Union. MLB Shop is still forbidding us from making a customized shirsey in your name!
Likely the backup to Bird, Austin was a feel-good story of the summer for the Yankees, hitting a home run in his first big league at-bat while showing his clutch gene (four of his five home runs came when the game was tied or the Yankees were behind). Austin managed to hit over .300 from the beginning of September through the end of the season, ending his first exposure to the majors on a high note.
Austin’s resolution should be to work on hitting right-handed pitching, but more importantly he needs to embrace the role of platoon player and be ready to contribute when his name is called off the bench. With the left-handed Bird at first base, it will be likely that Joe Girardi will want Austin in the lineup when the Yanks face the likes of Chris Sale or David Price in 2017, so Austin will need to be ready when southpaws take the hill.
Recommendation: The Yankees need a new team goofball with Mark Teixeira retiring. Something tells me you can take his place