Following the devastating injuries to begin the 2019 season, the Yankees desperately needed someone to step up and Gio Urshela has been that man.
The major league season has been flying by, as we are already about a quarter through the season. The Yankees sit a half game out of first place behind the Tampa Bay Rays. At the beginning of the season, we expected Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton slug it out against the Rays. Instead, it’s Luke Voit and Gio Urshela slugging it out against the Rays. Where has Gio Urshela come from? Why is he just starting to make a name for himself now?
Gio Urshela came up in the Indians organization as a “light hitting” defensive third basemen. Many scouts thought his bat was not serviceable for a major league team. However, Brian Cashman has seen potential in Urshela’s bat since his days with the Indians. This year he has displayed power (11 XBH), consistency (with a .409 OBP), and patience at the plate (6 BB).
Why have these changes occurred? Well for starters, it could be just a change of scenery. We saw and continue to see what 1B Luke Voit is contributing to the team, with his energetic play style and tremendous power. Another factor we must think about when watching Urshela play is his plate discipline.
When watching Urshela at the dish, you can see his ability to take command of the strike zone, somewhat close to how we see DJ LeMahieu take command of the zone. Urshela has already collected a 1.0 oWar, with a .384 BABIP, a 390 xwOBA, and a 144 OPS+. We can see Urshela is putting the bat on the ball, and when he does, good things happen. However, with the return of rookie of the year runner up Miguel Andujar, how will Urshela continue to fit into the Yankees everyday lineup? Ideally, the Yankees DH Miguel Andujar and let Urshela ride at third base, where he is an above average defender.
Gio Urshela has saved the Yankees in many different spots, whether it is at the dish, or in the field. He has put the Yankees on his back in several situations. Hitting coach Marcus Thames told reporters that Urshela’s success has to do with his comfort level at the plate, which as we can see, is extremely high. If the Yankees intend on competing for the division throughout the next couple months, they need Gio Urshela’s bat in the lineup as much as possible.