Mike Ford had spent his entire career climbing the various MiLB ranks within the Yankee organization, but as a first base/DH type, it was always going to be tough for him to make the majors. He finally got his chance in 2019 and made the most of it, impressing with a disciplined approach and good power.
Season Stats: 163 PAs, 10.4% BB%, 17.2% K%, .259/.350/.559, 134 wRC+, 0.8 fWAR
2020 Contract Status: Two years remaining of pre-arbitration control
It’s actually spooky how seamlessly Ford replace Greg Bird on the roster - his production in 2019 is within two points of wRC+ of Bird’s performance in 2015. They’re both lefty hitters without much defensive value. but Ford’s plate discipline is much stronger, and indeed stands out among all the 2019 Yankees:
Ford did show more power than advertised - his slugging and ISO during his time in Triple-A and the majors this year were both higher than ever in his career, and that makes you wonder how much help the juiced ball was for him, but runs are runs.
Mike had a few of the most memorable moments for the Yankees, with his pitching debut against Cleveland and a walk off home run against Oakland among them:
It will be interesting to see what the Yankees decide to do with Ford in 2020. Greg Bird looks to no longer be a factor on the club, and the team seems committed to Luke Voit at first base. Ford’s performance in 2019 is deserving of another shot at the major league roster, though, and perhaps the expansion to a 26-man roster will be a boon for him.
Quasi-powerful Quad-A type hitters are a dime a dozen in MLB, and Ford’s lack of defensive versatility hurts his long-term prospects with the Yankees. We saw this in the playoffs, when he was left off both the ALDS and ALCS rosters in favor of the injured Voit, who also is not known as a defensive wizard at first base. His plate discipline is the really intriguing part of his game, but I think it’s fair to speculate whether he’ll get enough plate appearances for that value to come through.