The New York Yankees have thrived all season with the ‘next man up,’ mentality. The team’s plethora of injuries have been well documented. When one player goes down, the organization’s depth players do not shy away from the their opportunity. Rather, they embrace the chance to prove themselves and contribute to a winning culture. The latest in the line of replacement players to thrive is first baseman, Mike Ford.
Ford has been on a hot streak at the plate of late, and he is proving himself to be a valuable bat to hang on to. He is hitting his way into a legitimate argument to make the roster come October. If he continues this pace, he can be a valuable left-handed bat to use as a pinch hitter.
Ford kicks it into another gear. pic.twitter.com/EYyyOVinSu
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) August 27, 2019
Major League Numbers
Ford, the 2013 Ivy League pitcher and player of the year out of Princeton University, has been hitting much better in his third stint with the Yankees. His first two stints saw just a .200/.400/.333 slash line in 11 games. Since being recalled from Triple-A on August 3rd, Ford has slashed .239/.282/.582
Overall, his numbers are really good depending on what category you look at. While he is only hitting .227 with a .324 OBP for the season, he is slugging .505. As a result, his OPS sits at .829, with an OPS+ of 116, both above league average. Overall, he has eight home runs, three doubles, and 14 RBI in 32 career games.
There are two aspects of Mike Ford’s hitting that cannot go unnoticed. The first is his ability to hit coming off of the bench. He has totaled ten plate appearances over seven games in which he came off the bench. In those instances, he slashes .556/.600/.1000 (.193/.297/.455 as a starter). While this is a small sample size, it is telling. When asked to come off the bench, he is showing he can hit, get on base, and hit with power, all valuable aspects to look for in a pinch hitter.
The other aspect is his ability to hit left-handed pitcher as a left-handed batter. Against lefties, he slashes .450/.500/1.350 with only two strikeouts and six home runs in 22 plate appearances. By comparison, he slashes .169/.281/.286 with 16 strikeouts and two home runs against right-handed pitchers.
This trend goes back to Triple-A as well. He is slashing .302/.393/.670 against left-handed pitchers in the minors this season. That includes 11 home runs in 122 plate appearances. Ford has proven to hit left-handed pitchers very well in 2019.
MIke Ford has six lefty vs. lefty HRs this season, three in the last 2 days. The rest of the #Yankees have 7.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) August 27, 2019
Mike Ford is proving to be a player that could be a key situational-pinch hitter in the postseason. The Yankees’ right-handed heavy lineup has been well documented, making a left-handed hitter that can hit left-handed pitchers a valuable asset to have.
Ultimately, it will be tough to fit Mike Ford into the postseason roster if the Yankees have everyone healthy. He is third on the organizational depth chart for first basemen behind Luke Voit and Edwin Encarnacion, and that does not include DJ LeMahieu.
It appears that first base and designated hitter will go to Voit and Encarnacion, but it is possible that Giancarlo Stanton can fill the designated hitter spot. This could happen if Cameron Maybin, Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, or Mike Tauchman are splitting time between left and center field. Clearly, the Yankees have an embarrassment of riches.
While Ford appears to be blocked on the postseason roster, he still can a big role if injured players cannot get healthy. Currently, the following position players are rehabbing injuries:
Stanton has started doing agility drills after spraining the PCL in his right knee. While Stanton is progressing, he has not yet began a rehab assignment. He is running out of time to do that with MiLB seasons coming to a close very soon.
Voit is expected to return by the end of the week from a sports hernia.
Encarnacion recently started taking ground balls although there is no definitive return date from his fractured wrist. He is in the same situation as Stanton. He is expected back although it is not known exactly when or if he will be able to get a rehab assignment in.
Hicks looks to be the furthest away from returning from his elbow injury. Reports say he could begin throwing this week although that does not appear to be set in stone. It is felt that he will move quickly through a rehab process once he starts throwing.
These four players have spent a considerable chunk of time on the injured list. While the look to be coming back in September, there is no telling what could happen. Any setbacks could open the door for Ford to make the postseason roster.
Mike Ford can be a valuable asset to the Yankees as they look towards the postseason although there may not be a spot for him on October. The narrative has been about what the Yankees will do when they get everyone healthy, but with five weeks left in the regular season, it may be time consider what they will do if players do not get healthy. In that situation, Ford will play a pivotal role off of the bench for the team at some point in October.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images