As was the case with most of the non-Hafner players the Yankees added late in spring camp, the feelings about Lyle Overbay were filled more with trepidation and worry than confidence and hope. Overbay had been cut by Boston following a light-hitting Spring Training of his own, and he hadn’t really hit with any kind of authority since 2009. He was brought in almost solely because of his defensive skills, skills which he has showed off in his first month in pinstripes. All defensive metrics rate him positively so far this season, and his .995 fielding percentage at first base has been right on par with what Mark Teixeira would have provided had he been healthy.
What Overbay was not expected to do was replicate Teix’s offensive production, and it’s what he’s managed to do with the bat thus far that’s made him another surprisingly smart and positive pick up by the Yanks. That has a lot to do with the fact that Teix sucks in April, but if we’re being honest here I think we can agree that, for at least the month of April, the Yankees really haven’t lost much going from Teix to Overbay.
To date, Overbay’s batting line stands at .247/.289/.459, good for a .322 wOBA and 98 wRC+. He’s hit 4 HR, 4 2B, and driven in 12 runs. Not earth-shattering numbers by any stretch of the imagination, but when they’re paired up with Teix’s production last April, they don’t look half bad:
Overbay April 2013- .247/.289/.459, .322 wOBA, 98 wRC+, 4 HR, 12 RBI
Teixeira April 2012 – .255/.290/.395, .298 wOBA, 84 wRC+, 3 HR, 12 RBI
And if you don’t want to fall into the SSS trap, consider that Teix’s career averages for April are .238/.342/.423 (.335 wOBA, 101 wRC+), not that far off from the production Overbay has given the team. Long-term Teix is still the guy you want at first for the majority of the Yankees’ games this season, wrist problem and all, but in the short term it probably wasn’t the worst thing in the world to not have him around in April. As long as they could bring in somebody who could come close to producing what they usually get from Teix, the Yankees could get by and that’s exactly what they found in Overbay. He isn’t walking as much as he historically does (5.6% BB rate), but his power has been way up and he’s gotten a lot of his biggest hits in big situations.
The longer the season goes, the more likely it is that we’ll see Overbay’s numbers start to drop off in their head-to-head comparison to Teixeira. He can’t be expected to maintain his current career best .212 ISO over the long haul, and that haul might be a little longer than first anticipated if Teix’s rehab drags into late May-early June. But if he can continue to play a good defensive first base and come up with big hits here or there, Overbay could prove to be one of the smartest moves made by Cash this offseason.
(Photo courtesy of the AP)