Picture this. It’s a cool, early November day. Millions of fans are crammed together on the streets of New York City as the 2019 World Series champion Yankees float down the Canyon of Heroes. Confetti is falling. Players are waving. Fans are cheering. Here come our guys. This is who brought us here. We owe it all to these superstars and their familiar faces for bringing us to the pinnacle of the sports world. Superstars like Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, Gary Sanchez, and … Gio Urshela. Wait. What?
Yes, Gio Urshela.
The parade float glides by and you see two third basemen, one we fell in love with last year and one we fell in love with this year. You see who we thought was our future, the guy we chose over Machado, the guy whose hitting was a thing of beauty, the guy who broke rookie records in Miguel Andujar. Then we see the underdog, the guy who teams gave up on, the guy who resurrected his career and became the lynchpin of this lineup, the guy who restored our faith in defense and clutch hitting in Gio Urshela.
It’s been a full season and Andujar sadly missed all of it. It’s been a full season and Urshela happily never let up; finishing the season batting over .300, playing stellar defense, and coming up clutch time and time again. He was irreplaceable. He helped get us here, our unsung hero.
Somewhere on that float Brian Cashman is smiling, toasting a drink to himself, boasting an evil laugh of an evil genius. “You’ve done it again, you son of a b*tch,” he proclaims to himself. Manny Machado is basking somewhere in the faraway San Diego sun where the bright, New York lights could never reach, and Gio Urshela is basking in championship confetti, brushing it off his heroic shoulders.
Then it hits him. Cashman turns to our two beloved third basemen and his brain gets back to work like a genius GM’s brain would. He’s crunching numbers, dreaming up trades, pulling up analytic data in his head. He’s got himself a problem; a good problem. He’s got two stars at one position. The 2020 season is full steam ahead and with it a now pressing question:
Who is our third baseman?
It’s present day, May 24, 2019. As of today, Urshela is currently batting .333, is 4-4 this year with the bases loaded, has a .406 BA with RISP, .500 with two outs and RISP, and 7 of his 19 RBI have come in the 7th inning or later when the Yanks have been tied or behind in a game, according to Baseball Reference.
In other words, the guy has been otherworldly, and can’t possibly keep this up. Right?
Right. It’s May and this guy has never proven across a full season of work he’s capable of the stardom things he’s doing right now. We’re not even halfway through the season and we’re dreaming up impossible scenarios of having to choose between him and Andujar. You may even be thinking right now how stupid an article this is for even thinking this way this early in the season. At the end of the year, we could very well see a .230 hitter whose name we only remember fondly as the “guy who carried us in May,” but is just a role player now. Thanks for your service, young man. We’ll see you at Old-Timers’ Day. The real stars will take it from here.
It’s all logical and reasonable. We are on a high from watching this guy do amazing things, forgetting what has been on the back of his baseball card. He won’t go on like this. He can’t possibly go on like this. He will absolutely, positively not go on like this.
But, but, but … what if he does?
For real, though. What if he does? What if he legitimately keeps on keepin’ on and we’re staring at an All-Star season from an All-Star player who helps get us to the World Series with a clutch hit after clutch hit after clutch hit? What if he does all of this while we stare at the back of Andujar’s rookie card which boasted, across a full season, a .297 BA with his 47 doubles, and a .294 BA with RISP? What do we do when we see Urshela’s stellar defense while remembering Andujar’s awful glove? What do we do when a star comes off of serious shoulder surgery and will likely clog up the DH spot upon his return and the other guy’s glove is platinum worthy? What do we do when we have two guys we love, two guys who raked, two guys who you’d gladly have on your team if there was any other way?
It seems impossible to think now. We have so much season left to play, and baseball has proven to work out these answers all by itself.
But, just for now, let’s pretend baseball leaves it up to us. Let’s pretend Cashman leaves it up to us. Let’s pretend he lets us play General Manager. Now, he won’t give us his GM salary, unfortunately, but he’ll give us his GM decision. Cash sits you down, lays out his binders, shows you the numbers, the stats, their WAR, all the data. He shows you the love fans have for each. He shows you their flair for the dramatic, the intangibles analytics can’t show you. He shows you their potential and he shows you their flaws. He shows you everything you need to know to make your choice for their future. Do you want Happy Fella Urshela or Miggy Doubles?
And you have to decide. Right here, right now. Who ya got?
Who is our third baseman?