New York Yankees: How do Yanks stack up against top AL contenders?

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 18: Aaron Judge (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 18: Aaron Judge (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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HOUSTON, TX – OCTOBER 29: Yuli Gurriel (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX – OCTOBER 29: Yuli Gurriel (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

First Basemen

  1. Yuli Gurriel (HOU) – 4 points
  2. Greg Bird (NYY) – 3 points
  3. Mitch Moreland (BOS) – 2 points
  4. Yonder Alonso (CLE) – 1 point

The top first baseman of the AL contenders last year, Carlos Santana (CLE), left this offseason to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies, leaving this group without a real star.

They do, however, have a pair of first basemen that could be on their way to becoming stars in Yuli Gurriel and Greg Bird, barring either can stay healthy.

Gurriel gets the nod as the top first baseman because he has a full season under his belt and has shown he can hit for average. Yuli played 139 games in 2017 and hit .299 with 18 home runs and 75 RBI. He also hit .304 with two homers and eight RBI in the postseason.

Gurriel had surgery on his hand in February but hopes to avoid starting the season on the disabled list. Whether or not he starts the year on the DL, Gurriel will miss the first five games due to the suspension he received last postseason for his racially insensitive gestures towards Yu Darvish.

One first baseman who will be starting the year on the DL is Greg Bird. He’s expected to miss 6-8 weeks after having surgery on his ankle.

If Bird could stay healthy, he could take the Yankees lineup to the next level in 2018. Bird came up late in 2015 and hit .261 with 11 home runs and 31 RBI in 46 games. He then missed the entire 2016 season with a torn right labrum. After tearing it up in spring training last year, Bird hit the disabled list with an ankle injury doctors couldn’t figure out. Once he returned, Bird hit .190 with nine homers and 28 RBI in 48 games.

Every time Bird seems to get hot, an injury takes him down. However, 20 homers and 59 RBI in 94 career games implies 30+ HR, 100+ RBI potential during a full season. Unfortunately, a full season is again not in the cards for Bird. However, once he returns, he should provide more value than the other first basemen on this list.

For a while, re-signing Mitch Moreland was the Red Sox’s biggest move of the offseason. Moreland is a Gold Glove-caliber first baseman and is coming off of a 22 HR-79 RBI season. He will likely platoon with Hanley Ramirez who is coming off of a disappointing 23 HR-63 RBI season and is not as good defensively.

After losing Santana, the Indians went out and signed Yonder Alonso, a popular trade deadline candidate for the Yankees last season while Bird was hurt. Alonso hit 20 home runs in the first half of the season and was eventually traded to Seattle where he cooled off a bit and finished the year with 28 homers. A career .268 hitter, 2017 was the first season in which Alonso hit double-digit home runs. How he follows up that power season will determine his success in 2018.