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Friday, March 2, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: GREG BIRD 1B NEW YORK YANKEES

Is THIS the year New York Yankees first baseman Greg Bird stays healthy and realizes his annually high ceiling?  That is the million dollar question when it comes to Bird who remains a potent power prospect but who at the same time has endured some massive injury problems his first few years as a professional.  Nowhere was this tendency more stark than it was in 2017 when Bird missed all but 48 games last season due to ankle surgery and thus went down as a big bust for those in fantasy baseball that bid heavily on him last spring.  In those 48 games (and the postseason slate as well), Bird DID show the power that made him such a top prospect in the first place (9 home runs in 170 regular season at-bats and 3 more in the playoffs) and now he goes into the 2018 season in what could arguably be the sweetest lineup spot in the majors surrounded by Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez.  So with that said, now is the time to get familiar again with Bird who will be much cheaper at the draft table this time around but who could pay off in a much bigger way.

It makes sense to start with the positives when it comes to Greg Bird's outlook and on that front, it is all about the home runs and RBI.  Bird has terrific natural power that showed in spring training last spring and in his 48 games and additional postseason contests with the Yankees in 2017.  Now being protected by Judge, Sanchez, and Stanton, Bird is going to see a ton of fastballs as the least accomplished hitter of the four and so more home runs will be on tap and they could be very plentiful.  We are talking 30 home runs and 85 RBI as a good floor for Bird this season and he could even better those marks if he does stay healthy.  Maybe we can chalk up last year's ankle woes as a fluke injury but maybe not as well.  Be that as it may, the draft cost on Bird this spring is quite cheaper and so the risk is not as pronounced as it was the previous season.

In addition to the power, Bird has a good eye at the plate that results in a high amount of walks.  This was seen in Bird's impressive 11.2 BB/9 rate from a year ago and more of this should help the batting average.  The flip side is where the negatives begin though as Bird tends to strike out a bunch (24.7 in 2017) and so expecting him to be a .300 hitter is foolish and even .280 could be out of reach as well.  Bird more profiles as a .265 hitter at least for 2018 but that is at least not in Joey Gallo territory.

When you put it all together, Greg Bird is right there as one of the best young power hitters in fantasy baseball and his cheaper price at the draft table this spring make him a very good investment.  We are not saying Bird will explode this season but the talent is there for him to be a nice asset for those shrewd owners who see a potential value play at work.

2018 PROJECTION:  .267 25 HR 88 RBI 77 R 1 SB


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