Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Why is Jeter Leading Off?

Yesterday's Spring Training media interview was pretty much what you would expect. No new shocking revelations; high hopes etc. Joe Girardi said the platitudes as did Brian Cashman. Nothing new yo report....except for this:

“We signed Jeter to be our shortstop, and we signed him to be our leadoff hitter,” Girardi said. “And he’s got a pretty good track history of what he’s done in the game of baseball. He had a couple of rough months last year. The month of September he was back to being Derek, I thought. I’m not really too concerned about him as our leadoff hitter.

OK, one question. Why?

In almost every single way, Brett Gardner is the perfect leadoff man over Derek Jeter. As for Girardi's comment about Jeter being back to his old self in September, that's not entirely true. It is true that Jeter batted .287 in the last month, which is better than he batted in any month since April. But .287 isn't what you want out of Jeter.

Jeter can't draw walks like he used to; Gardner can. Jeter can't run like he used to; Gardner has speed to burn. Take September; Jeter's best month since April—he had a .375 OBP. In September, with a severely sprained wrist and his worst month of the year, Gardner's OBP was a .372. In that month—his best OBP month all season—Jeter stole 3 bases. In his worst month, with a sprained wrist, Gardner stole 8 bases.

Look, I get it, Jeter is the Captain. The face of the franchise. But would it be such a insult to him to bat 2nd? With Teixiera behind him? And trying to drive in Gardner with slaps the other way as Gardner creates a hole on the right side of the field? Doesn't that make more sense?

Gardner was 8th in the league in OBP, 3rd in steals, 10th in walks and 9th in runs scored. All batting 9th in the lineup. The man is a born leadoff hitter. Jeter at this point in his carer isn't. And it shouldn't be a slap to the captain. He has batted 2nd more in career than in any other spot over his career. So it's not a big move.

I admire Girardi's loyalty. He played with Jeter and has a bunch of respect for the Franchise. But batting Jeter first is a mistake


Pete S said...

I agree with you. Girardi needs to get Gardner as many AB's as possible in front of the middle of the Yanks order.

The Captain said...

Jeter is leading off because of his history as a Yankee, the fact that he's the captain of the team, and because Joe has loyalty to him.

Should that be the case? Maybe, maybe not. I'm interested to see how long Joe sticks with him at the top if he continues his downward trend of last season.