Friday, April 27, 2018

For four games, the Yankees are about to lose the AL's best first-baseman

Realistically, this cannot last. Slumps happen, the market corrects itself, and the Babe of April withers into the Pronk of July. Aside from the Infinity Stones and the Marvel Universe box office, nothing lasts forever. Just ask Vernon Wells.

Then again, whatever happens can never be erased. April is almost in the books.

And the record will show that Tyler Austin has accomplished what none of us could have predicted when Greg Bird disappeared last month for yet another partial foot amputation. As the numbers below show, Austin has been among MLB's best first-basemen this month. "Peg" Bird can take his time soaking the paw. The only thing we're missing - aside from his smile and lefty bat - is an excuse to jettison Neil Walker. (And that might come this weekend, depending on Walker's play.)

Based on these numbers, I'd put Austin on April's AL all-star squad, if such a thing existed. (Note the HR and RBI totals in at least five fewer games.) 


But wait, there's more! These numbers don't reflect Austin's growing reputation as a gamer: Most of his homers have come in critical moments - putting the Yankees ahead or into a tie. In the hitting category labeled "Late and Close," he is a career .385 hitter. (Small sample, but still...) Moreover, he charged the mound at Fenway this month after a cowardly Redsock pitcher drilled him, rousing the Yankees to win when - for a brief and insane few days - we looked permanently lost. 

If Austin continues, this is what we have. He is 26, not eligible for arbitration until 2020, and a free agent in 2023. (Bird, by the way, is 25; we have him until 2022.) Against LH pitchers, Austin is a career .351 hitter (small sample - 57 ABs.) Bird, by comparison, hits only .218 against righties, but with far more power: 15 HRs. Even a limited platoon - the lefty Bird would get most ABs - could make our 1B slot among baseball's most productive - this after several years of being a certified sinkhole. 

Also, Austin has shown surprising dexterity, making great stretches and snaring hard hit balls. The other night, he caught a twisting foul down the line with a spectacular slide. When ahead in a count, he hits .327. (Behind: .181.) Best of all: In the post-game shows, he snarls - practically imitates Michael Cohen invoking the Fifth. He's tough. At age 17, the guy beat testicular cancer. After that, beating the Twins may seem a letdown. 

But nothing lasts forever. On that note, let me finish this screed with a personal message to our good friends, the juju gods: 

Dear Madams or Sirs...

All too often, we fans fail to recognize your hard work and dedication. I just wanted to say that we know this winning streak cannot last. We understand you must jimmy the summer ahead with injuries, pineapple losses and land-mines, and that no team rolls over the league as we just did with our dear friends from Minnesota. We know that life is a rolling carnival, and that you cannot predict baseball, (Suzyn.) 

That said, I just want to thank you for Tyler Austin.

Well done!

El Duque

4 comments:

13bit said...

I heard that the Juju gods lost their letter opener and they're only accepting telegrams. I could be wrong, of course.

Totally agree on Austin. Let him start, deal Walker, Keep Bird around for parlor tricks and as trade bait. Maybe we're seeing another Wally Pipp situation, which is the only way to bypass Cashman's brilliance these days.

In the meantime, what do we do about strengthening our rotation? I'm going to send a telegram to the Juju gods. It'll go:

YO JUJUS. THANKS FOR TA. PLEASE SEND SOME PITCHING SOON. WE LOVE YOU. STOP

13BIT

KD said...

I am starting to love this team. we are only three young pitchers away from a dynasty!!

Anonymous said...

AHHH, THE EXCEPTION WAS 1998....

THERE WAS ALMOST NO LOSING AT ALL....(THE PERFECT YEAR).

JUJU INTERVENTIONS OR BLACK SWANS, DIDN'T MATTER....

WILL WE EVER SEE A YEAR LIKE THAT AGAIN?

I DON'T THINK SO... (SIGH).....

MAN, THAT WAS SOMETHING.

The Ghost of Yankees Past said...

I agree with KD, pitching , pitching, pitching. Forget Manny and Bryce, we have all the offense we need in the organization.. Put the effort and resources into starting pitching and to a lesser extent relief.