The Big Toe - New York's unheralded X-factor
The big toe, as defined by the Healthline Medical Team, “is one of five digits located on the front of the foot.” Furthermore, the big toe’s function is to provide additional leverage when doing everyday functions such as running or walking. The removal of this toe would cause the body to have to retrain itself, so other muscles could perform these functions. Ronald “Toe” , has been the big toe for the New York Yankees.
Standing at five foot, eight inches, the smallest member of the team has come up huge for this ballclub since last season. An injury to Didi Gregorius in the WBC put into a role that was foreign to him: Opening Day shortstop for the New York Yankees. In the 17 games he started in April last season, he had more than respectable offensive numbers, maintaining a .318 batting average, 20 hits, 13 RBI, six SB, and five runs scored, while only striking out six times in 65 AB.
Once Didi came back, he saw his playing time diminish. That was until starting second baseman Starlin Castro went on the DL for an extended period last summer. Just like he did in the beginning of the year, he adjusted to his new role and filled in nicely. Once again, he put up good offensive numbers, batting .298, .283 and .321 respectively, in June, July and August. By the end of the year, his offensive output was not as high, as a result of playing in more games than he had ever before (108 in 2017 compared to 78 games in 2015 and 2016 combined). This resulted in his lowest batting average of the season in September at just .263.
Fast forward to the Spring of 2018. All eyes are on Yankees rising star Torres. There was speculation he would make the Opening Day roster as the team's starting second baseman. However, a few moves in the offseason put that thought on the backburner. They acquired veterans to help buy time, before Torres would be Major League ready. An injury to Greg Bird moved Walker to first in a platoon with Tyler Austin and the second base position was now open. Instead of 'ole reliable' getting the call, it was Tyler Wade (on the heels of a strong Spring Training) getting the nod as the Opening Day second baseman.
As we all know, Spring Training and “The Show” are completely different. Wade’s complaint last year was the lack of consistent playing time, and this year he was given the consistent playing time he was looking for. Hopes of Toe playing seemed slim. Fortunately for Toe, however, Wade has struggled both in the field and at the plate. In 11 games, he’s had 32 AB, but recorded only three hits (two extra base hits) and one run scored. On the contrary, the reliable has had at least one hit in five out of the six games he has registered an AB, with two multi-hit games, three doubles, and three runs scored in a total of 21 AB.
what’s the difference? As Aaron Boone noted, he prepares as though he is going to play every day, any position, even if he only gets in one or two games that week. This past weekend, Boone went on record saying this about Torreyes:
“I think what really impressed me was that first week we had where he didn’t see the field. We’re dealing with some weather issues so it’s not your normal work, so he sat over there for six days without seeing the field, without an at-bat, without anything. Then we throw him in that first day and it’s like just . . . he does all the right things.”
That’s why when Boone was asked on Sunday if Torres would be called up this week, it was more of a no than a yes, because of Ronald “Toe” .
is still a very young player at only 25 years old and can only get better. He has excelled in his role has the big toe, utility man for this ballclub. When the Yankees throw up the imaginary bat signal, Toe comes in and gives this team a reliable bat and glove off the bench. Fans of the great 90s teams, will compare him to Luis Sojo, who also knew his role, and was vital to the success of those teams. It doesn’t matter if he is playing consistently due to injuries, or if its sparingly; his offensive output and ability to play multiple positions is something that cannot be easily replaced. It's something the team hoped Wade would be, but as of now has not been able to fulfill.
Without your big toe, it would be hard to perform everyday functions we take for granted. Ronald “Toe” , is our big toe. One that the Yankees and the fans should never take for granted.
Article by: Andrew Rohloff