New York Yankees Soaring After Greg Bird Sends the Bombers to Victory


With the New York Yankees looking to make up ground on the AL East leading Blue Jays and down their starting first baseman Mark Texeira, the Bronx Bombers have been getting a nice boost from 22-year-old Gregory Bird. On Tuesday night in extra innings, Bird took reliever Mark Lowe deep for his third homer in as many games, sealing the win for the Yanks.

With the three-run bomb, Bird now has seven RBI in his last three games, and has driven in 15 this month with seven long balls over 18 September games. Whether or not the burst from the young lefty will be enough to claim the AL East remains to be seen, but at the very least he’ll have the New York media abuzz during spring training as to where he fits in with Texeira and Alex Rodriguez signed for next season and currently manning first base and DH, when healthy. Outside of the three games Bird caught in the Gulf Coast League in 2012, first base and designated hitter are the only two positions that he has manned in his time as a professional ballplayer.

Bird really burst onto the scene during last year’s Arizona Fall League, belting 6 gargantuan homers (tops in the league) and driving in 21 over 26 contests. Ranked as the Yankees’ fourth-best prospect behind Yankee teammate Luis Severino, Triple-A outfielder Aaron Judge and High-A shortstop Jorge Mateo, Bird could be a major component to an influx of minor league talent to the Yankees major league roster over the next few seasons.

MLB Pipeline says of the first baseman, “Bird’s value comes almost solely from his bat. He’s a well-below-average runner with adequate range and arm strength at first base, though he gets credit for working hard on his defense” adding, “but his ability to draw walks should lead to healthy on-base percentages.”

The first player that shoots to mind is former Yankee first baseman Jason Giambi, who was never a gold glove caliber defender, but could crush the ball and get on base. While Giambi was capable of hitting for a high average, batting over .300 four times, he also finished with a career .277 batting average, certainly attainable for Bird with some adjustments here and there. Defensively, Giambi finished his career with a dWAR of -20.5, or just over -1.0 per season in the big leagues. In 33 games at the major league level, Bird has already amassed a -0.5 dWAR, so he’ll likely have to improve defensively if he hopes to be anything more than a full-time DH. 

With Bird’s heroics on Tuesday night, the New York Yankees are within 2.5 games of Toronto with one game left in their series before heading back to the Bronx for four against the White Sox, three against the Red Sox and then finishing off the season in Baltimore with three more. Conversely, the Jays will stay at home for three against Tampa Bay, who are holding onto their glimmer of hope for a wild card berth (6.5 back of Houston currently) before heading to Baltimore for four and finishing out the regular season in Tampa with the Rays.

Next: The 2015 All-Prospect Squad