Is Rico Noel Worth A Playoff Roster Spot?

It's no secret how the New York Yankees score their runs. They're second in the league in home runs, and that's what they're going to live and die on for the rest of the season. The narrative that they hit too many home runs is folly, but their overall team speed does hurt the Yankees, not their approaches at the plate.

You can argue that five Yankees -- Alex Rodriguez, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, Chase Headley and Greg Bird -- should be pinch run for in a big spot. Obviously, you can't pinch run for all of them, but that's a huge problem when the Yankees are trying to come back in games in later innings. If they're down one run and one of those guys are on base it will most likely take two hits to score.

According to Baseball Reference, the Yankees take an extra base (more than one base on a single or more than two bases on a double) on 34 percent of their chances, which is 28th in MLB and one percent more than last place. The league average is 39 percent. None of this surprises you if you watched the Yankees this season.

What is surprising is that the Yankees have made only 37 outs on the bases this season, which is the fewest in MLB. That number does not include pick offs or caught stealing, so it's not because they don't attempt stolen bases. It may be because they're not aggressive going for the extra base. So for all the complaining about Yankees base running this season they have not made many base running mistakes.

This is where Rico Noel enters the picture. He is crazy fast and has stolen 283 bases in his minor league career, including 90 with the Padres organization in 2012. He has already had an impact with the Yankees with two stolen bases. The question is Noel a luxury that the Yankees can afford to keep on their postseason roster (assuming they make it)?

Lets first do some number crunching. Here are the locks for a potential playoff roster:

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. Brett Gardner
  3. Alex Roriguez
  4. Brian McCann
  5. Carlos Beltran
  6. Greg Bird
  7. Chase Headley
  8. Didi Gregorius
  9. Stephen Drew
  10. John Ryan Murphy
  11. Chris Young
  12. Brendan Ryan
  13. Mashairo Tanaka
  14. Michael Pineda
  15. Luis Severino
  16. Andrew Miller
  17. Dellin Betances
  18. Chasen Shreve
  19. Justin Wilson
  20. Adam Warren

One of the five remaining spots will go to CC Sabathia or Ivan Nova as a fourth starter, assuming Nathan Eovaldi is not ready. It looks like Sabathia has a lead on that right now for sure with how he has pitched since he came off the DL. That brings us to 21 and the Yankees have three more spots to get to an eight man bullpen.

Then there is one spot left and it seems it would come down to Dustin Ackley and Noel. I would keep Noel if it was up to me. Ackley's only value would be if Bird suddenly got hurt, and they could always remove him from the roster if that happened for Ackley. The only issue with Noel in the playoffs if you pinch run with him and the game goes on you're going to have to get Noel out of the game, so you're using two bench spots on one move. However, you have a five-man bench as opposed to the usual four-man bench.

We all saw what Terrance Gore did for the Royals in the playoffs last season as a pinch runner with three stolen bases, so there is precedent for this. He was electric and brought a spark. The Yankees only have 50 stolen bases this year, which is 26th in MLB. Noel could be a game changer for the Yankees and putting him on the playoff roster is a risk worth taking.