BACKGROUND: Laird won the Double-A Eastern League MVP in 2010 and seemed on the verge of reaching the major leagues in 2011. The Yankees signed Eric Chavez though so it seemed like Laird would have to spend at least half a season in the minors before he got his chance at reaching the majors and sticking.
2011 STRUGGLES: Laird actually saw some playing time in the Bronx, but if he doesn’t improve on his 2011 season he won’t have many more chances. The biggest problem keeping Laird from reaching the majors is his over aggressiveness at the plate. He hit 16 home runs, but walked just 17 times, resulting in a .288 OBP.
That is a big step back from his career OBP of .326, which was never really impressive to begin with. The bulk of his problems comes against right handed pitching where he saw a OPS of just .672 against them. However, he still hit well against lefties putting up a .810 OPS against them.
DEFENSIVE IMPROVEMENT: One of the things Laird has done to improve his stock was to make himself a more consistent defender. Baseball America had this to say about his defense, “He isn’t flashy, but he’s dependable and makes the routine plays, and he’s also more than capable at first base.” They added that his below average speed hurts him in the outfield though.
2012 OUTLOOK: Chavez is once again in the mix in the Bronx so for now Laird is once again blocked. They also have Bill Hall and if he doesn’t opt-out of his deal, he would also be blocking Laird. So if anything he is farther away from the majors than he was a year ago.
The best thing he can do to increase his stock is to improve his patience at the plate, especially against righties. If the guy has a .288 OBP in Triple-A, there is no chance he’s going to be successful in the majors. It could be that Laird finishes the year as the Yankees backup to Alex Rodriguez, but if he doesn’t improve his hitting he could make himself insignificant in the grand scheme of things.