March 6, 2010

Analyzing the bottom half of the lineup

Joe Girardi spelled out who will hit second for the Yankees this year. That man is Nick Johnson, as long as he’s healthy. I think eight and nine are pretty clear too: Nick Swisher at eight, Brett Gardner or Randy Winn at nine. So who will bat Nos. 5-7?

Robinson Cano
Curtis Granderson
Jorge Posada

I’d almost certainly expect two different lineups for Joe Girardi this season (one vs. righties and one vs. southpaws). Here are my projections from both sides.

vs. RHP vs. LHP
Derek Jeter SS Derek Jeter SS
Nick Johnson DH Nick Johnson DH
Mark Teixeira 1B Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B Alex Rodriguez 3B
Curtis Granderson CF Jorge Posada C
Jorge Posada C Robinson Cano 2B
Robinson Cano 2B Curtis Granderson CF
Nick Swisher RF Nick Swisher RF
Brett Gardner LF Brett Gardner LF

Posada’s career splits heavily favor hitting from the right side (.299/.268), so that gave me reason to put him fifth against lefties. I fully expect Granderson to make an improvement against lefties with the help of hitting coach Kevin Long, but pitchers still would definitely walk A-Rod to face him at this point.

But not against righties. Granderson is an exciting young player and is a huge producer vs. righties. With Yankee Stadium’s short porch in right, fans should expect another 30-homer season out of Grandy.

I chose to put Cano behind Posada against righties so there wouldn’t be back-to-back slow runners with Posada and Swisher.

In sum: These three spots are very tough decisions, and it might be that Girardi just plays it by the book all season and mixes it up every day.

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