Keep or Toss: The Infield


Yesterday, you decided whether you would “Keep or Toss” Brett GardnerJacoby EllsburyAaron Hicks and Aaron Judge. Today, we go into the infield where you’ll decide whether to “Keep or Toss”  the players that play defense in the diamond.

Chase Headley:

Headley had a terrible start to his season in April, but overall had a decent year hitting .251/.329/.383 with 14 homers and 51 RBIs. Headley also improved his defense from the year prior, only making 10 errors versus 24 in 2015. Now, Headley has two years left on his contract, and if the Yankees wanted to trade him, he could bring back a decent return.  But if you were the manager, what would you do with Chase Headley?

Didi Gregorius:

In his second season with the Yankees, Gregorius became the fourth player on the roster to reach 20 home runs. While his OBP went down this season (.304 in 2016 to .318 in 2015), he did hit for average and power, and had a decent 2.2 WAR in 2016. Gregorius is slated to be part of the Yankees future, but if you were the Yankees manager, what would you do with Didi Gregorius?

Starlin Castro:

Starlin Castro had been one of the best Yankees acquisitions since the Yankees made the trade for him last winter. And while he hit .273/.300/.433 with 20 homers and 70 RBI’s, sabermetrics weren’t kind to him, notching a 1.2 WAR in 2016. Despite that, the Yankees view Castro as a player for the future, and they envision Castro and Gregorius as the next great double play combination since Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano. As the Yankees prepare for 2017, what would you do with Starlin Castro?

Brian McCann:

2016 was an overall down year for Brian McCann; despite hitting 20 home runs, he only drove in 58 runs and hit .242 for the entire season. McCann also had an abysmal 0.9 WAR throughout the 2016 season. McCann’s playing time behind the plate diminished when the Yankees brought Gary Sanchez into the picture, and with Austin Romine on the roster, McCann has suddenly become an expendable piece this winter. If you were the Yankees manager, what would you do with Brian McCann?

Austin Romine:

As Brian McCann’s initial backup catcher, Austin Romine had a decent year, hitting .242/.269/.382 with four homers and 26 RBI’s. However, it’s hard to believe that Romine or McCann will be on the team next season. The Yankees usually don’t carry three catchers, and if the Yankees package Romine or McCann, they could get a decent return. However, if you were the Yankees manager, what would you do with Austin Romine?

Gary Sanchez:

In the words of John Sterling, “Gary is Scary”. And if you were the rest of the league, you would agree that Gary Sanchez is a player you don’t want to face. Sanchez only played in 53 games and hit .299/.376/.657 with 20 homers and 42 RBI’s. He also had a WAR of 3.0, which leaves you to imagine the impact Sanchez could have left had he played the entire season. Sanchez was so impressive during his two months on the diamond, he started finding himself in AL Rookie of the Year conversations. Sanchez is expected to be the Yankees catcher next season, and I’m sure most would want to keep him. But as a formality, what would you do with Gary Sanchez?

Tyler Austin:

While everyone was impressed with Gary Sanchez, Tyler Austin sort of flew under the Yankees radar. And while he didn’t put up monster numbers like Sanchez, when he hit homers he surely made them count. During his short stay with the Yankees in 2016, he notched his first walk-off home run and started his Major League career with a bang when he hit a home run in his first at-bat. Austin will find himself competing for a Major League job next Spring Training, but if you were Yankees management, what would you do with Tyler Austin?

Tomorrow: You decide whether the Yankees should “Keep or Toss” Bryan MitchellLuis CessaLuis SeverinoDellin BetancesAdam WarrenChasen Shreve  and the rest of the Yankees bullpen.

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24 Responses to Keep or Toss: The Infield

  1. Terry says:

    This was an interesting one.Didi and Sanchez are the only top 5 players by position.Castro had about the same year most thought but with more homers.Can't argue with 20+ but 2nd base is so deep with talent in the AL he's probably not in the top five.Chase, I want to root for him but color it any way you want,.250 with 14 hrs are not close to good.With Bird at first ( if healthy) he should bring power to that corner.So 3rd base is the only opportunity to upgrade, either by getting another player or Chase stepping it up.No way I trade BMc unless I get another LH power bat in the off season

    • mosc says:

      Chase Headley had a much better 2016 than Starlin Castro. Why do people not understand this? Castro was a below average player, Headly was an above average player. Gregorius was somewhere in between but his defense was less than we've seen in previous years so there's some hope going forward. Headley deserves more respect, Castro deserves less.

      • Delia Enriquez says:

        You’re absolutely correct. Headley has a 2.6 WAR (starter, above average) in 2016 while Castro had a 1.2 WAR (reserve, below average) and Gregorius had a 2.2 WAR (starter, above average). Headley had a good year, but many are fixated on Headley’s terrible April that they don’t see the impact he had to the Yankees overall.

        • mosc says:

          7 Home Runs. Castro hits 7 more home runs and that makes him a savior compared to Headley. Headly took 51 walks however to Castro's 24 and the 27 walk difference doesn't mean anything to Yankee fans. Course, those are total numbers, Castro came to the plate 81 more times than Headley did so the hr rate difference is exaggerated and the walk rate difference is even worse than it seems.

          The big difference of course is not their bats (which were VERY equal) but their defense. Castro was a well below average defender, Headley was a well above average defender. This is also not surprising, they both have long track records on the defensive front. BBREF quotes 15 runs difference between the two based on their gloves at their respective positions.

          Headley is viewed as old and slow while Castro is young and fast but this is also not true. Headley stole 8, Castro 4. Headley also took the extra base more often. Castro is A BELOW AVERAGE RUNNER at age 26, Headley continues to add value with his legs at age 32.

          Third base has some big hitters (I would argue Machado is a SS, but whatever) but so does second. They're both important positions defensively. Most systems rate second base slightly more important than third but both are above average positions and both are on the positive side. That means Headley's bat at third plays just as well as Castro's bat at second. They're very equal on that front and the thought that it's easier to upgrade at third vs second is complete nonsense.

          • Balt Yank says:

            I agree with MOSC but to add a caveat, 70 RBIs is impressive for Castro and probably leads this light-hitting team. Castro may be young and even fast (like Hicks) but makes bad decisions, doesn't always hustle, and missteps. Headley plays smart, which is why he is better on the basepads and steals more. Babe Ruth can probably outsteal Castro . . . and while drunk.

        • tom says:

          Not just April, we want power number from 3B.

      • Headley had a great year! Guess bc he started off bad they just wanna say he was terrible!! Go chase!

      • Shouldn't get married to WAR. Headley's power numbers for 3B are lacking. A great defender, though.

        • mosc says:

          No sabermetric person is married to WAR. They do use it however when you only want to give 1 stat to compare players. It's the single best stat for that. Batting average is useful information but doesn't paint a very complete picture of the hitter. Also it doesn't help you compare much between pitchers and batters, different ballparks, or between eras. WAR is far from perfect but it at least tries to factor in everything in proportion. It's the right place to START the conversation and is "good enough" to tell you things like Chase Headley was a much better player overall than Starlin Castro in 2016. It's margin for error isn't THAT extreme.

          Headley's ISO (you said power not HR so I'm going to use ISO here which is SLG-BA) in 2016 was .132, hardly a surprise given his .138 career number so very much typical Headley. The MLB average at the position is .179 so yes Headley has less than average power for a third basemen. Third basemen are not a huge power position though, the MLB average ISO was .162 so 3B is a little higher than normal but pretty close.

          Headley's power though was pretty much his only negative. His OBP was actually league average pretty much at third base (a more useful number than ISO), his baserunning added significant value (8 and 0 on stolen bases, few extra outs on the basepaths, took the extra base), he only hit into 7 double plays, and most significantly he had a really good year defensively with only 10 errors, above average range factor, and strong positive marks from advanced metrics.

          Third base is a position where guys can contribute in lots of ways. I would not look only for HR's from my third basemen. If he's saving runs with his glove that's just as valuable. Chase Headley is not a star in the lineup but is certainly not a burden either. He hits basically like a #6 hitter and if he's lower than that on your team, it's a good lineup. If he's batting cleanup you have bigger problems. He has a salary and plays up to it and it's not like there are amazing third basemen on the free agent market to choose from. He's been the best performing free agent third basemen of the past few years and that doesn't look to change anytime soon either.

      • Jerry says:

        And just the year before, he had a 1.1 WAR with 23 errors which was horrible. Who is the real Chase Headley? Definitely not the one who hit 31 homers and led the league with 115 RBI. Those were great numbers!

    • tom says:

      There is no opportunity to upgrade 3B at all. No way in HELL I would play Castro nor Refsnyder at 3B.

  2. tom says:

    I would keep all in but just don't give Didi a contract. Keep paying him an arbitration money until he becomes free agent.

    I personally would ease up the value in McCann but Yankees won't back down on it. Because what we have on the roster, we will highly expect Bird, Austin, Judge and Sanchez to have ridiculous season to make up the weakness by contractual players.

    The pressure will be on kids again.

    • mosc says:

      I wonder how much McCann really wants to stay with the Yankees if he's not the starting catcher anymore. His contract rewards playing time as well with a vesting option, you'd assume he still wants to pursue that. He has the right to choose though with his no trade clause. I would think it would matter on the situation. Going back to Atlanta where he still lives, played before, and grew up, would seem to tip things but the Braves aren't offering much for what is clearly still a high end catcher for his age 33 and 34 seasons.

      • tom says:

        Staying with Yankees as a full time DH can guarantee him 2019 season. He would be smarter if he exercised the no trade clause.

        He has 3 ways to secure his power for 2019 salary.

        1. 1k PA over 17 and 18.
        2. 90 games at catcher in 18.
        3. DL free in 18.

        I can see McCann prefer Yankees but you never know.

      • Jerry says:

        You would think he'd rather be a starting catcher still. Atlanta I assume might be the only place he would consider and I'm guessing the Yankees and Atlanta will get together again and make it happen. We seem pretty well set at catcher and also adding Kyle H to the 40 man roster might indicate less of a need for McCann, whose production is not good enough for full time DH.

  3. Eric says:

    Chase Headley???? Sorry fans, but I go by the eye test and he is not even close to a good hitter. With their lack of power in the outfield we need a more productive (homers and RBI's) player at third base. In order to compete in the AL East the Yanks must upgrade their offense to have a chance. Though Cahman won't do it, I would love to move Headley, Gardner, Ellsbury, and McCann.

    • Jerry says:

      You are right about his hitting, it's actually not very good. 14 home runs, his most as a Yankee in a year where home runs were way up. Defensively he's usually pretty good, but can be inconsistent. I think it's just that we expect so much from him after that one monster year, but he's a shadow of that guy.

    • Ralph says:

      I go by the smell test, and his hitting is awful for a power position, esp. since there is no outfield power. He is also one of the most boring players on the team, since his game is so nondescript.

  4. Jerry says:

    And those pitchers you mentioned for tomorrow, I'd keep them all.

  5. Balt Yank says:

    I think you keep Headley because it is hard to upgrade there, that's all. The Yankees really need to upgrade the offense and one way is to ensure a few 270 hitting / 350 OBA somewhere. That may well be Bird and Sanchez. However, if it can also be RF & 2B & DH, that would improve these team. In that respect, I see Hicks, McCann, Castro and players to move. Butler / Refsnyder appear to be able to do 260-280, 350 OBA.

  6. fuster says:

    one of either McCann or Romine obviously has to go.

    the rest of the infield is solid, assuming that Bird is ready to go and hits as well as he did in 2015.

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