If the injury bug bites the Yankees again in 2020, Thairo Estrada can provide as a decent backup if all else fails for the Bombers.
Last year, the Yankees dealt with a plethora of injuries, as we all know. This led to players being promoted or receiving major playing time that, quite frankly, most casual fans have never even heard of. Among these players were now-fan favorites like Gio Urshela and Mike Tauchman, but another young buck got some time in the majors and very quietly made some very loud noise: Thairo Estrada.
Oh Yeah, Who Was He Again?
Estrada has a very intriguing and scary backstory. Prior to Spring Training of 2018, Estrada sustained a gunshot wound during a robbery attempt. He eventually returned to baseball, playing only 18 games that season, batting just .192 with a very, very rough .210 on-base percentage. To be fair, no one could blame Estrada for his poor play. He was just coming back from a major injury and hardly any time to get comfortable again.
In 2019, however, Estrada showed signs of progress. The second baseman hit .260 with a .313 OBP and two long balls in 60 games. He was called up to the Yankees for the first time on April 4, and since then bounced back and forth between Triple-A Scranton and New York. Estrada hit .250 with a .294 OBP and three homers in 35 games for the Bombers last season. Now, these numbers might not jump out at you, but you need to consider a few things when talking about Estrada.
For one, Estrada got called up due to all the injuries that were taking place with the Yankees. His call-up was sudden, and, in all likelihood, was very unexpected. The fact that he held his own in limited playing time says a lot. Yes, the on-base percentage is low, but that’s okay. In a limited role, you can work with a low OBP and a decent batting average.
Another thing to focus on with Thairo Estrada was the power he provided in the majors. In 60 games last season in Scranton, Estrada only hit two homers. In nearly half that time in the majors, Estrada instead went yard three times. This says that, although he doesn’t have a lot of pop, he definitely has enough power to drive one over the wall. Albeit, the juiced ball factor may have played a role in this, but the fact that Estrada hit as many homers as he did in this amount of playing time is a sign of encouragement.
Will the Yankees Give Thairo Estrada Playing Time?
Considering the departure of shortstop Didi Gregorius, I think there’s a real possibility we see Estrada in the bigs this year, that is, if there is a season to be played. He’s shown plenty of life in prior years, hitting .301 with a .351 OBP and six homers in 2017, while also hitting .290 with a .346 OBP with eight home runs in 2016. Despite that being mostly in Double-A Trenton, you can still assume that there’s talent there to potentially provide at the Major League level in a backup role.
Here’s something else to consider: there will always, and I mean always be injuries, simply adding to the possibility Estrada gets another chance to play in the bigs.
I can’t predict the future, but if Estrada does indeed get the call to return to the Bronx at any point this season, I’d expect him to be a very solid backup that can play every fifth day.