Didi Gregorius might have returned to the Yankees at just the right time.
Most people expected some sort of regression with Gio Urshela, yet again and again, he’s continued to produce for this team. That production may finally be starting to slow, however.
Let’s break it down by month. In March and April, Urshela was on an utter tear. He went 20-58, good for a .345 batting average, and held an OPS over .900 at .909. In May, though he cooled slightly, he was still producing at a high level with a batting average of .333 and a .844 OPS. In both time periods, his OPS+ stats were above (often far above) league average.
But take a look at June and you can start to see a fall off. It’s only 10 games so far, but Urshela is hitting just .206. That includes his big first game in Tuesday’s doubleheader. His OPS has dropped all the way down to .687. Across the 25 games in May, he went hitless just five times. This month he’s already matched that total in just 10 games played.
So is this a just a rough patch or a new trend? His extremely high BAbip through the early months, .388 and .391, isn’t a very sustainable number, so it’s unfair to think he’ll continue to produce at such a high rate. To be fair though, neither is his current .172. As the season progresses, it seems likely that his BAbip would settle somewhere between those two extremes, along with his batting average. On the flip side, there aren’t any alarm bells with his strikeout or walk rates. His strikeout rate has floated in low teens all season long and his walk rate is actually up in June. Urshela already almost matched his previous month walk totals in half the plate appearances.
The thing about Urshela is he isn’t much of a power hitter. His five home runs are nice, but his value so far this season has come from his high contact rate and his great defense. As his BAbip starts to level out and he gets less lucky with his balls in play, his value is going to diminish somewhat. His defense will always keep him relevant, but it may relegate him to the fulltime backup infielder rather than the current everyday third baseman. The issue there then becomes the fact that he can only play third base. If he does find himself in the backup role, might the Yankees want more versatility? Time will tell.