Postseason baseball is upon us. After some wild (no pun intended) Wild Card Series’ with some big upsets and incredible individual games, the New York Yankees will finally begin their chase for 28 against the Cleveland Guardians in the ALDS. The stage is set, and to make it official, the rosters for the postseason were revealed.
For the Yankees, there were some glaring problems. They are missing Scott Effross due to him needing Tommy John surgery. DJ LeMahieu is also missing because of his lingering toe/foot issues, but the Yankees hope he can be activated for the ALCS. But the decision that set the Yankees faithful into a frenzy was not including young shortstop Oswald Peraza. Instead, everyone's favorite utility player (not really) was awarded that roster spot.
To have Gonzalez on the roster is confusing, for lack of a better term. In 86 games and 207 plate appearances, he slashed .185/.255/.321 with six home runs and a 65 wRC+. His fWAR was zero, so the impact he made all around the field was a net neutral result.
Gonzalez played six different field positions throughout 2021-22, with most of his appearances coming at shortstop. Left field and first base round out the top three positions he played the most. He's a body that can play first base in the worst-case scenario that Anthony Rizzo goes down with an injury. However, his production alone doesn't justify making the roster at a time of year when the Yankees need everyone to contribute at the plate.
As for Peraza, people certainly have a right to be upset that a player with his production, no matter the tenure, is not available to help the team. After seeing how Aaron Boone, his staff, and the front office decided on how to use him at the end of the season, it shouldn't have surprised anyone that he was omitted. However, there are reasons to be upset.
Peraza only played 18 games, accruing 57 plate appearances in that time. However, he made them count. With a slash line of .306/.404/.429 and a wRC+ of 146, he made the bottom of the Yankees lineup a legitimate threat. He managed 0.4 fWAR in this time as well, so despite Gonzalez playing more than four-and-a-half times more games than the 22-year-old, he managed to provide a positive contribution instead of a neutral one.
One of the more mind-boggling things about the Yankees' choice to omit Peraza from the postseason roster is that he doesn't only provide a solid bat and defense — he's incredibly fast. In his Statcast profile, he ranks in the 90th percentile for sprint speed. Yes, he can't replace Rizzo at first, but there are other places where he can be helpful if the Yankees need a player.
Gonzalez has made himself useful in some scenarios throughout the season, especially when the injury bug was running rampant through the clubhouse. However, with a fully healthy lineup, there doesn't seem to be any spot where he can truly help the team, whereas, with Peraza, there are different ways he can. The likelihood of success with him in the lineup is higher — even if it's incremental, that can be all the difference.
The Yankees have their lineup set and are determined that having Gonzalez available is the correct course of action. While many may not agree (the numbers certainly don't), the only hope is that everything works out in the end, and if it doesn't, they are given another chance to reassess the lineup.