March 9, 2011

Kevin Long: Derek Jeter will hit in top 3rd

Finally, the Yankees are pondering the idea of moving Brett Gardner to the leadoff spot, as one of my Twitter followers pointed out. My idea was to put Gardner first, Nick Swisher or Curtis Granderson second, and then some combination of Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez. Kevin Long’s idea, however, has Derek Jeter in the top three no matter what.

Mark Feinsand of the Daily News also wrote that he’d expect to see Jeter move down only to the two spot, not seventh like I expected.

First, I’d like to point out that some don’t even think this lineup debate matters. Statistics show that the order of a lineup doesn’t have a major effect on the overall productivity, but the analysis tool doesn’t account for Jeter’s groundball tendencies or Gardner’s base stealing potential.

Hypothetically, if Gardner led off the game with a single and Jeter came to the plate, the Yankees could play hit-and-run all season to give Jeter’s grounders a better chance to find holes in the infield.

Although the Gardner-Jeter combination sounds like it might work, I’d prefer a hitter with more pop and production than Jeter in the No. 2 spot like Swisher. It’s possible Jeter comes back with a huge turnaround in 2011, but I’m not banking on it. He’s 36 years old; I don’t think he’ll get worse than last year, but I don’t think he’ll have a major improvement.

I can’t say this enough, but how can the Yankees ignore Gardner’s perfect skill set for the leadoff role? He gets on base, he steals bases, and he sees tons of pitches. What more do you want?

Should Jeter hit in the top three if Gardner hits leadoff?

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