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    Coles: Could Ford Be a Better 1B Option than Voit in 2020?

    The Yankees have been battling some frustrating injury storylines as they head into the 2020 regular season, and it has allowed us to look deeper into players that may get extended playing time as a result. One of the more popular names popping up is Mike Ford.

    Ford got his first shot in the MLB as a 27-year-old rookie last season after spending his first six seasons in the Yankees’ farm system. In 50 games, he was solid. He slashed .259/.350/.559 with 12 home runs and 25 RBI. He also posted a 134 wRC+.

    Most importantly for Ford, he showed the ability to do two really key things. One of them is that he hits the ball hard, the other is that he is rather patient at the plate.

    New York Yankees’ Mike Ford sprints to third during a baseball game against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

    Here’s his batted ball profile:

    • Average Exit Velocity: 91.9 mph (average is 87.5 mph)
    • Launch Angle: 15.6 (average is 11.2)
    • xwOBA: .365 (average .318)
    • Hard Hit Rate: 45.6% (average is 34.5%)
    • HR/FB: 23.5% (average is 15%)

    This is important for any player, but it’s especially important for guys that are just cracking into the MLB. Throughout his time in the Major Leagues Ford has shown the ability to hit the ball hard at the plate consistently.

    As noted earlier, Ford is exceptionally patient at the plate as well. Of course, this ability has helped him in hitting the ball harder. Below are his plate discipline stats for 2019

    • Walk Rate: 10.4% (average is 8.5%)
    • O-Swing: 24% (average is 32%)
    • Z-Swing: 63% (average is 69%)
    • Z-Contact: 88% (average 85%)
    • Swinging Strike Rate: 8% (average is 11%)

    Naturally, when you are good at laying off pitches outside of the zone, it means you are likely getting after more hittable pitches. If you are getting after more hittable pitches, your contact will likely be better as a result. That’s been the case for Ford, as he has mixed good plate discipline with the ability to attack pitches.

    Perhaps the most interesting thing, at least available to the public, in regards to Ford’s 2020 outlook is the discrepancy of total games played between ZIPS and Steamer FanGraphs projections.

    For instance, Steamer projects Ford to play in 40 games this season and to slash .255/.340/.487 with 9 home runs and 24 RBI and a 116 wRC+. Those are very similar to his real 2019 numbers, but Steamer actually projects fewer games played by Ford in 2020.

    ZIPS, however, has a similar projection to Steamer in terms of slash line, .257/.340/.481, and wRC+ (115). But there is a huge discrepancy in projected games played, as ZIPS projects Mike Ford to play 122 games in 2020, 80 more games than his Steamer Projection. Depth Charts, which is usually best at predicting games played, has him at 41. Nonetheless, though, it seems he will be a solid presence in the Yankees’ lineup regardless of how many games he plays.

    As for his plate discipline projections, Steamer and Zips feel similarly. He’s projected for a 10.5% BB% and about a 19% K%. That’s just more evidence that Ford is going to be solid, irregardless of how many games he plays.

    With the way the Yankees’ injury situations have played out, I would not be totally surprised to see Ford play in at least 100 games this season. More reason for why I wouldn’t be surprised if Ford played in a lot of games, besides just injuries, is that he is by no means far worse than Luke Voit. Steamer actually thinks Voit will be slightly worse at the plate than Ford.

    Voit 2020 Steamer:

    .250 avg.342 OBP.447 SLG.335 wOBA109 wRC+

    Ford 2020 Steamer:

    .255 avg.340 OBP.487 SLG.345 wOBA116 wRC+

    Voit is also projected to strike out more than ford by a large margin. Steamer has Voit projected for a 26.4% K% and it projects Ford at 19.2%. Steamer does have Voit’s walk rate a bit higher at 11% vs. 10.5%.

    All in all, based on what we’ve seen here, it would not be very surprising to see Mike Ford get a lot of time in the lineup this season. Given the injuries that the Yankees are battling and the fact that Luke Voit is by no means a locked in everyday starter for the Yankees, Ford might very well get a shot as a 28-year-old to become a household name, at least in 2020.

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