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Greg Bird

24 years old

Bats/Throws: L/R

Height/Weight: 6’3”, 215 lbs

Position: First Base

THE NUMBERS

 

Level

Games

AVG

HR

RBI

RUNS

SB

2011

Rookie

4

.083

0

0

0

0

2012

RK, Low-A

28

.337

2

13

13

0

2013

A

130

.288

20

84

84

1

2014

High-A, AA

102

.271

14

43

52

1

2015

AA, AAA

83

.277

12

52

44

1

2015

MLB

46

.261

11

31

26

0

2016

AFL

17

.215

1

10

9

1

 

2012: He was limited to less than 30 games due to a back issue.

2014: Bird missed more time with back woes.

2016: Bird hurt his right shoulder and missed all of the regular season after having labrum surgery. The surgery was performed on March 2nd. Bird did appear in the AFL to at least see some actual pitches in game action.

Bird missed all of last season with that shoulder that needed to be repaired. He worked all offseason to regain his stroke, and that included continue to focus on driving the ball to all fields. "I feel great. I tell people everyday it's awesome to come to the ballpark and feel good and then come home and still feel good," Bird said. "I didn't necessarily have that for a long time, so it's cool to feel good again and have fun playing baseball."

"It's nice to see him healthy and productive," Brian Cashman said as Bird has hit .452/.514/1.065 through 13 Spring games. "That gives you optimism that he's going to be a contributor during the season, because we're obviously trying to win games — and it's lights, camera, action soon enough. I sleep better now than I would've had it been the alternative."

SCOUTING REPORT

Bird has only 328 plate appearances above Double-A.

Here’s a quick scouting report.

He has solid power, without being overly impressive in this measure. He sprays the ball to all fields with a smooth swing that generates solid bat speed through the zone. He also has a good eye at the plate, though some scouts think he can be a bit passive. The swing can also get long at times. Bird is also ground ball adverse which helps the homer count but could limit his batting average upside significantly. Having missed significant time in three of five seasons with shoulder and back issues, Bird is now a below average overall athlete with health concerns.

I keep thinking something like Carlos Santana, and not the version that 34-99 last season, but the guy who frustrated folks for years before 2016. That’s top end for Bird in 2017 too, the pre-2016 Santana. Speaking of numbers...

PROJECTIONS

*First four taken from his Fangraphs page. The last one is an aggregate of seven projections.

 

PA

AVG

HR

RBI

RUNS

Depth Charts

455

.249

21

66

58

Steamer

465

.264

23

67

61

Fans

562

.266

24

85

77

ZiPS

397

.234

18

57

50

PECOTA

496

.244

22

68

62

FantasyPros

376*

.255

21

62

55

*at-bats

Note that only the “Fans” think he’s having any kind of significant fantasy season this year. You’re all so biased you Yankees fans.

The other five sources all suggest that Bird is likely to produce along the lines of Mitch Moreland this season. With all the sources basically saying the same thing, why are you so bullish on Bird?

THE SKILLS

Bird has posted an impressive .395 OBP in the minors, a mark that is an impressive .113 points above his batting average. This speaks to his understanding of the strike zone and is a big positive.

Bird also has just 313 punchouts in 347 minor league games, another positive. As noted above, his swing can get long at times, and that’s not something that will allow him to keep the strikeouts down in the big leagues if he doesn’t tighten things up. Note that the strikeout rate was much higher in his limited work with the Yankees in 2015 as he struck out 53 times in 46 games, or once every 2.96 at-bats compared to the 3.98 at-bat mark he posted in the minors.

Bird hits too many fly balls to be a batting average booster, especially with swing and miss concerns. Bird had an absurd 51.4 percent fly ball rate with the Yankees leading to a 0.52 GB/FB ratio. No player in baseball, who had 502 plate appearances last season, had a mark that low in the ground ball to fly ball category in 2016. As this article points out, his fly ball rate was over 46 percent in the minor leagues in 2015. That many fly balls means that Bird had better hit 25 homers cause the rest of his offensive game is going to be lacking though being a left-handed batter, who pulls the baseball, is an ideal outlook for a slugger in the Big Apple. This is especially true when said batter hits the ball hard as Bird did in 2015.

 

PLAYING TIME

The Yankees signed Chris Carter when the priced dropped to the point where they really had no choice; 1-year, $3.5 million. Carter hit 41 homers with 94 RBI last season, while posting an .821 OPS, but no one wanted to pay his asked for price resulting in him settling for the spot with the Yankees. Can’t blame the Yankees for signing Carter given the cost, but even so do you really think they plan on sitting a guy who hit 41 homers last season on the bench for basically a rookie coming off a totally lost season? Sounds like manager Joe Girardi is planning on using Carter against lefties. “We signed Chris Carter to help fill that role,’’ Girardi said. “As I told Chris, his role is going to depend a lot on Greg Bird in a sense and how well he’s swinging against left-handers. We’ll have to see. He’s a really good player, Greg Bird. Chris Carter had a really good year. Things have a way of ironing themselves out.’’

Here is how each man has performed against lefties.

 

LG

AB

AVG

HR

OPS

Carter 2016

MLB

134

.224

12

.875

Bird 2015

Minors

125

.240

5

.733

Bird 2015

MLB

42

.238

2

.752

 

Pretty obvious why Girardi is thinking of giving Carter ample work against southpaws.

The signing of Carter also likely spells doom for the 2017 prospects of Tyler Austin.

AVERAGE DRAFT POSITION DATA

As of this writing, here is Bird’s ADP data.

 

Overall

Position Rank

NFBC

247.6

19th

MDA

268.8

18th


Fantasy Alarm Player Rankings


CONCLUSION

There isn’t a high cost with Bird at the moment, but at the same time I find it hard to support targeting him in mixed leagues. With Carter available to the Yankees, Bird’s track record of physical woes and his nearly complete lack of big league experience leads me to the thought that guys like Justin Bour and Brandon Moss who are being taken 50-75 picks later in drafts are simply wiser investments.

10/12/15 Team Mixed: My advice in all three size mixed leagues is the same – don’t bite until at least the reserve rounds, and even then, there are a handful of first baseman I would easily prefer to Bird given the cost.

AL-Only League: I’m not 100 percent sold that Bird will be a top-10 option at first base in 2017. The power is legit, but the rest of the game is suspect at this point, despite a couple of hot weeks in spring training.

 

Ray Flowers can be heard Monday/Tuesday and Thursday/Friday, 8 PM EDT, Wednesday 7 PM EDT on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87). You can also hear Ray Sunday nights at 9 PM EDT PM on the channel talking fantasy sports. Follow Ray’s work at Fantasy Alarm and on Twitter (@baseballguys).

 

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