We all thought this was going to be Tyler Wade’s year. His speed is perfect for the added runner on 2nd in extra inning rule, and he can easily move around both the infield and outfield. The shortened season, larger bench, and almost certain trips to the IL created a perfect spot on the bench for Wade.
After news broke about DJ testing positive I thought for sure that Wade would make his debut on opening day, but in came Thairo Estrada to prove me completely wrong.
A look at both
25 year old Wade had spent his last three seasons shuffling back and forth between the big league team and the The Rail Riders. His first two seasons with the Yankees were a struggle for sure, batting about .170 though both.
2019, on the other hand, was the start of something new for Wade. He hit .245 with 11 walks, 11 RBI’s and 2 homeruns. But Wade’s real strong suit isn’t his bat though, its his utility and speed. Wade has 9 stolen bases throughout his career, seven coming in the 2019 season which is pretty impressive considering what a dying art base stealing has become. Wade also can play almost any position you can imagine, in his 43 games last season he played SIX different positions and he played them all well making only one error all year.
Estrada is two years younger than Wade but also has about two years less experience under his belt. Last year was Thairo’s first big league season and although he didn’t get much time on the field, he put up pretty good numbers, batting .250 with 12 RBI’s, 3 homeruns and 4 stolen bases. Just like Wade, Estrada is the ultimate utility guy playing middle infield and outfield.
What I thought
When I compared Estrada and Wade before summer camp 2020 started up, I came to the easy conclusion that Wade would be the utility guy on the bench. Wade has more experience, more speed and a solid ending to the 2019 season to expand on this year. I placed Wade on my imaginary bench as the middle infield replacement assuming that Gleyber and DJ would miss about 25% of games combined. I naturally assumed, and so did he, that Wade would be needed for his biggest asset, his speed.
To be honest with you I didn’t even think twice about Thairo Estrada.
I was wrong
It didn’t take many days of summer camp to realize I probably made the wrong choice when it came to our utility bench guy. With DJ on the IL we are seeing much more of Estrada than I originally planned and that kid is showing up for real. Wade and Estrada are almost identical on the field playing second base with ease. They have both shown they have replacement level fielding abilities but Thairo is certainly showing he has more than we originally thought over the last few days.
Estrada isn’t just showing Wade up on the field. His at bats during summer camp have been very impressive. Estrada hit the first inter-squad homerun off of Tommy Kahnle to the second deck in left field.
Wade on the other hand has done nothing more than look pretty.
In a matter of three inter squad games, Estrada has pushed Wade out of his 2020 opportunity and a lot of people can see it. He has highlighted both his defensive and offensive abilities, showing the Yankees they have more than one choice when it come to a middle infield replacement player.
Wade has seen his chance with three separate runs in the major leagues that all amounted to basically nothing. Stolen bases and speed don’t give Wade the edge either. Estrada had 4 stolen bases in 35 games whereas Wade had 7 in 43 games making their base stealing almost idenitical. Speed wise both players rank above average with Wade averaging 29.1 feet per second and Thairo averaging 27.3 feet per second.
All around it seems that Estrada might actually be the better choice for the potential opening day second base starter and the utility bench player job.