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Lyle Overbay Making Most of New Lease on Big-League Life

New York Yankees’ First Baseman Goes from Spring Flier to Middle of Order

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | It's a certainty that Lyle Overbay wasn't on anyone's fantasy baseball "must-draft" list for 2013.

Not after a year during which he only got 131 plate appearances for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Atlanta Braves and produced a whopping two homers and 10 RBIs. And Overbay was definitely not a hot commodity for the rotisserie types after he was released by the Boston Red Sox late in spring training.

But a funny thing happened on Overbay's way to baseball's scrap heap.

The New York Yankees brought him in after he was cut by the Red Sox, thinking a veteran such as the 36-year-old Overbay might help them with the gaping hole that was first base with All-Star Mark Teixeira on the disabled list.

Overbay did well enough in his short trial that Juan Rivera was deemed expendable. And a couple of months into the season, Overbay is doing well enough to get regular playing time in the middle of the Yankees' order.

His overall numbers aren't going to pop off the page at you: .259/.297/.475 with six home runs and 24 RBIs in 149 plate appearances. But Overbay is doing what he did for several years with the Milwaukee Brewers and Toronto Blue Jays. He gives a team a solid glove at first base and solid gap power against right-handed pitching.

Overbay's numbers against lefties are frighteningly bad: .119/.136/.190 with 10 strikeouts, three doubles and six RBIs in 44 plate appearances. He's also bounced into five double plays against southpaws.

But has Overbay made right-handers pay.

He's got a .954 on-base-plus-slugging-percentage against the righties, hitting .316/.362/.592 with all six of his homers and 18 RBIs in 105 plate appearances.

Overbay can still find the gaps, with 10 doubles this season. In his prime, Overbay found the gaps a lot. He led the National League with 53 doubles for the Brewers in 2004 and has topped the 35-double mark four times in his career.

Home runs aren't really his thing. His career best was 22 for the Blue Jays in 2006 and he hit 20 in his final year in Toronto in 2010.

Overbay has helped the Yankees survive without Teixeira and without Kevin Youkilis, who is still out with a back injury.

Teixeira could be back in early June and when Teixeira returns, Overbay could find himself out of a job. With Travis Hafner on the Yankees' roster to provide left-handed thump in the DH spot, Overbay loses the numbers game upon Teixeira's return.

But the immediate future for Lyle Overbay still looks better than it did a couple of months ago, when he was staring the end of his career dead in the face.

Phil Watson is a freelance journalist and commentator based in upper Michigan who covers the New York Yankees for the Yahoo Contributor Network.

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