The .198 batting average is all the proof Greg Bird should need to realize it’s time for him to get it together.
Because while the Yankees have been slugging their way through the first half of the 2018 season, Bird is still just as full of inconsistencies as he is potential.
Let’s not let Bird’s two-homer performance against Boston, last Friday night, distract from the fact he’s not getting the job done. If Joe Girardi were still managing the Yankees, his reaction to Bird’s struggles likely would’ve been a very familiar one to their fans.
“It’s not what you want.”
No, Bird failing to pull his weight in this modern-day Murderer’s Row lineup is not what the Yankees want or were expecting. The team’s winning has served as cover for his struggles, but it’s getting tougher to ignore.
It definitely wasn’t ignored when Bird struck out with the bases loaded Monday night in the tenth inning against the Atlanta Braves. The Yankees eventually lost that ballgame.
This is a team stacked with right-handed power. Bird’s sweet swing is supposed to be the left-handed bat expected to bring balance to the lineup. But it’s hard to be that guy when you’ve taken office space on the wrong side of the Mendoza Line.
In only 41 games, Bird came up in 2015 and opened eyes with 11 home runs and 31 runs batted in. It seemed like the team found their first baseman of the future, but since then he’s looked more like an enigma.
It’s not all Bird’s fault, he’s been hurt… a lot. A torn labrum cost him all of 2016 and foot problems limited him to only 48 games the following season. This season Bird missed the first 48 games following ankle surgery to remove a bone spur.
I give Bird credit for his mental toughness to battle back from his physical ailments, but now it’s time he starts producing.
Wednesday afternoon in the Bronx, the Yankees picked up a 6-2 win over the Atlanta Braves to improve their record to 56-28. Bird contributed with an RBI single. He went 1 for 4, took some good swings, and hit into a couple of tough outs.
But it’s going to take more than one or two games to convince anyone watching that Bird’s ready to start playing up to his potential. His overall body of work indicates a player more suited for a platoon role than it does an everyday first baseman.
The Yankees’ lineup is on pace to set a team record for most home runs in a season. Bird has the ability to hit the long ball, but right now it would be encouraging to just see him have better overall at-bats by working the count more and start drawing walks.
With the second half of the season quickly approaching, it is imperative the Yankees find a way to help get Bird on track. The keyword there is help, because Bird has to start doing his part.