It’s tough to consider a .244/.339/.482 batting line a poor season for most players, but when you’re Mark Teixeira and a .286/.377/.536 career hitter coming into the season, it is a disappointment. Tex’s struggles against right-handed pitchers this year (.221/.324/.450) are well known, and that’s why he’s hitting fifth tonight. Robinson Cano, who has no trouble hitting anyone, will bat third.
“It’s a great idea,” said Tex. “I told [Joe Girardi] I was all for it.” Although no one came out and admitted it, the change is likely permanent throughout the playoffs, at least against righty pitching. Tex can still mash lefties (.297/.377/.557), there’s no issue there. The first baseman acknowledged that the short right field porch in Yankee Stadium is “appetizing,” and he’s planning to work with hitting coach Kevin Long this offseason to iron out his left-handed swing.
This move isn’t just about Tex though, it’s also about maximizing opportunities. Cano has been intentionally walked ten times this year and five times in his last seven games, and although Nick Swisher is a quality hitter, he’s certainly not a guy that strikes the fear of God into a pitcher. When the choice is pitching to Cano or pitching to Swisher, you pitch to Nick every time. I doubt the other team will stop walking Cano now that he’s hitting third (how many batters have we seen get walked ahead of Alex Rodriguez over the years?), but at least now A-Rod and Tex and Swisher are all behind Robbie to pick up the slack.