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A fond farewell to Chase Headley

Jesse Spector

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Sep 2, 2017; Bronx, NY, USA; Teammates congratulate New York Yankees third baseman Chase Headley (12) after he hit a home run against the Boston Red Sox during the second inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

You’ve really got to feel for Chase Headley. Here’s a guy who’s a Nashville Predators season ticket holder, and a little more than three years after getting traded from San Diego to New York, he gets shipped back to San Diego, half a continent away from his favorite hockey team.

As a journalist, I’ll miss Headley in New York because of his willingness to give thoughtful answers to whatever questions I had, on pretty much any topic. It’s always good to know who those guys are on the home team, the ones you can go to for any story you might be writing.

On the field, Headley’s tenure with the Yankees was… well, it was fine. His 7.7 wins above replacement over three-plus seasons put Headley in 14th all time among Yankees third basemen, right behind Fritz Maisel (1913-17) and Joe Dugan (1922-28). Another year, and he likely would have passed Scott Brosius, albeit not in ring count, and probably moved into the top 10 Yankees at the hot corner.

Headley hit a walk-off single in his Yankees debut back in 2014 – and if you want to remember how long ago that was, the other batters in that decisive 14th inning against Texas were Ichiro (grounded out), Brian Roberts (doubled, scored the winning run), and Francisco Cervelli (singled). In one of Headley’s final games as a Yankee, he played a crucial role in tying the ALCS against the Astros when he fell down rounding first base but still managed to scamper safely to second, helping to set up a four-run eighth inning in Game 4.

In between July of 2014 and October of 2017, Headley was pretty much the player he has been for his entire time in the majors outside of a career year in 2012. His total line as a Yankee was .262/.339/.387, and he was generally around those numbers every year. He hit six homers as a Yankee in 2014 for a season total of 13, then had full-campaign totals of 11, 14, and 12.

The way those numbers came about was not the picture of steadiness that you might expect from someone putting up similar stats every year. Headley could go a month at a time looking like a Hall of Famer, then spend the next month looking like he had no business being in a major league stadium without a ticket. April and May of this year, for instance.

Headley came to the Yankees in a trade for Yangervis Solarte and Rafael De Paula. He leaves, with Bryan Mitchell, in a salary dump trade for depth outfielder Jabari Blash, paving the way for Todd Frazier to re-sign, Miguel Andujar to take over at third, or another move to fill the position. Headley will wind up being known as a Padre who had a sojourn in the Bronx, but while he was here, he provided enough good memories to outweigh the protracted slumps, and a steady presence defensively at third base. He was a good guy to have as part of your baseball team.

Jesse Spector is a national columnist for FanRag Sports, based in New York. The host of "Jesse Spector Is..." on Tampa Bay Lightning Power Play Radio, Jesse is the former national baseball writer and national hockey writer for Sporting News. Before that, he was the Rangers beat writer for the New York Daily News, and the writer of the Touching Base baseball blog. Jesse also has written for Newsday, Baseball America, ESPN SportsTicker, and The Associated Press.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. vicki

    December 13, 2017 at 4:53 am

    thanks for this, jesse. i was always a headley booster – if at times, seemingly, the only one.

    also, congratulations on your new gig!

  2. RWinUT

    December 13, 2017 at 9:34 pm

    Perhaps the first Yankee-related article I’ve read here or at SBNation that didn’t take a back-handed swipe at the “Evil Empire.” Must be because the player is LEAVING New York…

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