The Three-Four Trouble Spots

How much confidence does Girardi really have in Hughes?
MLBTR's Offseason In Review
(REUTERS/Mike Stone)

Despite scoring just three runs in their last 21 offensive innings, the Yankees still lead baseball with a 126 wRC+ and are second in runs per game at 5.56. Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson have been the club’s two best hitters so far in this young season, but their two least productive lineup spots have been three and four. If you happen to be new to baseball, that’s traditionally where teams stash their best hitters.

The Yankees’ number three hitters have produced a .300/.341/.438 batting line in 85 plate appearances, which is actually 4% worse than league average despite that shiny batting average. Power and on-base ability matters. The cleanup men have hit a much uglier .206/.341/.368 in 82 plate appearances, a whopping 17% worse than league average. Every other lineup spot has been at least 2% better than average, most substantially more than that. It’s like this giant hole of non-production right smack in the middle of the order.

Other than a one-game cameo by Mark Teixeira, the three and four spots of the lineup have belonged to Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez this season. They’ve been flipping back and forth based on the opposing starter and Joe Girardi‘s whim, but it’s been those two since day one. Cano’s struggles — .264/.337/.413 — are frustrating but unexpected, plus he has gone 12-for-40 with five doubles and homer in his last ten games (.300/.378/.500). I’m very confident that he’ll continue to right the ship.

A-Rod has managed to stay healthy so far this year (knock on wood) but the performance hasn’t been there: .221/.329/.382 in 79 plate appearances. He’s been streaky in the early going — six bad games followed by seven awesome games followed by four bad games — but that’s expected this time of year. Day-to-day consistency is baseball’s greatest myth, it just doesn’t exist. I think A-Rod will hit better as a the season progresses though he’ll never be the guy he used to be, but the real problem as that two of the team’s least productive players are currently hitting right behind their two most productive players. It’s not a coincidence that Jeter has been on-base more times than anyone other than Matt Kemp but is only ninth in runs scored.

We know that batting order doesn’t made a huge difference over the course of the 162-game season, but in one individual game it could have a huge impact. I think the best solution might be to move Alex up in the order, not down. Bat him second behind Jeter, who is on base all the time these days and forces the pitcher to work from the stretch. Keep Cano in the three-hole and bat Curtis Granderson cleanup. It might help kick start A-Rod’s bat a little bit and if not, no big deal. They can always change things up in the future. Patience is a wonderful thing in baseball, but sometimes it’s okay to jump the gun a bit and make changes earlier than expected. Rearranging the lineup furniture at this point is perfectly fine and worth trying.

How much confidence does Girardi really have in Hughes?
MLBTR's Offseason In Review
  • Bartolo’s Colon

    i think that is a great idea, but I can’t see girardi doing it, maybe we can have someone sneak in to the clubhouse and add that to the binder

  • Typical MIT Nerd

    Geez, if only they had a young middle of the order bat…

    Too bad there are none of those in the system. Cano ain’t young any more.

    • Bubba

      Elvis has left the building… he’s not coming back.

      • Typical MIT Nerd

        Not for a long, long time.

        The sad part is YFs will be so desperate to move on, any guy with a glimmer of power is going to get hyped. How long this year before the NY media starts on the Austin/Mason/Bichette/Sanchez group? Too bad they’re two years away, at best.

        Awful. Ugh.

        I hope Monteroisdinero hasn’t hurt himself.

    • LK

      I know trading Montero still stings, and this season is a small sample size, but a dude with a sub-.300 OBP right now isn’t the answer to kick-starting the offense.

      • LiterallyFigurative


        Seriously, the Montero posts need to stop.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          “Montero” and “binder” need to be killfiled immediately.

          • jjyank


          • ROBTEN

            also “coach’s son”

    • moonimus

      I loved Montero but he would never bat in the middle of this lineup at this point. And yes he’s young but who knows if he would realize any of his potential. I’d rather have Cano and Granderson in their primes anchoring the lineup than pin my hopes on a guy who batted over .300 in September.

      Arod and Cano will find their way. Cano will probably string along another near MVP stat line while Alex should put up a 25+ homer campaign with an obp around .350. I just hope Jeter can stay hot like this when that happens cause the Yanks can put up runs in bunches. A lot to be frustrated about right now but it’s still early and a lot can happen between now and October.

      • jjyank

        Yeah, this. You think Girardi would drop A-Rod or Cano down to 6th or 7th in the lineup in favor of Montero? No way. Besides, Montero isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire, what makes you so damn sure that he’d be a middle of the order bat?

        What I’m even more sick of besides the urge to mention Montero’s name in every damn post is the fact that a group of commenters have already written the guy’s name on the hall of fame ballot. Why do so many people assume Montero is a lock to be a middle of the order perennial all-star? He is a rookie and a prospect. There are no guarantees.

  • DJ4K&Monterowasdinero

    ARod and Pujols.


  • LiterallyFigurative

    How bout a Tex-Robbie-Alex 3-4-5?

    Since we are tinkering with things.

  • DT

    Arod is in need of BABIP regression that .226 BABIP (on a 18% line drive rate) is going to get better..hopefully.

  • Minka

    Fixing Arod is simple: bring back Kate Hudson

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Torrie Wilson didn’t do Billy Kidman any favors. Did I mention we had the same wedding DJ?

  • Bonnie Parker

    A-Rod needs to go to Jeter and ask him what his secret is. A-Rod looks old and can’t catch up to the fastball. If the middle of the lineup can’t produce then we’re in trouble, especially if Hughes and Garcia are going to keep starting.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Last I checked, April is still the same 30 days as it was every other year, which means it’s ok for me to say “It’s April.”

      • rogue

        If the 2011 Red Sox had a better April, they would have made the playoffs and Francona would still be their manager.

    • jjyank

      Every player looks “old” when they aren’t producing. Are we going to start saying that Jeter “looks old” when his hot streak inevitably comes to an end? If healthy, A-Rod will pick it back up again. He was pretty damn good last year before he got hurt, so I’m not worried.

  • Ro

    Really picking this team apart today, huh guys?

    Everything is all rosey for the Rangers right now, and let’s not forget that Hamilton isn’t exactly Mr. Healthy. Their rotation isn’t exact complete either. The Angels well, they have $1 billion worth of bats, a fairly strong rotation and a bullpen that rivals Boston, arms of fire. Which leads me to Boston, who has horrible production from all ends of the roster. Yeah they just beat up on the Twins. Woo who..

  • DJ4K&Monterowasdinero

    Yanks need some home cooking. 5 out of the next 6 will be victories.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Verlander will be handed his ass tomorrow. You heard it here first.

      • Brian S.

        I have to poop.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          I supposed we heard that first as well?

          • Robinson Tilapia


          • Slugger27

            he probably watches family guy.

  • Bartolo’s Colon

    every year i tell myself i’m not going to get too down or too excited about april, but i can never help it

    • Betty Lizard

      APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
      Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
      Memory and desire, stirring
      Dull roots with spring rain.
      Winter kept us warm, covering
      Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
      A little life with dried tubers . . .

      • ROBTEN

        You know, it’s a little known fact that Emily Dickinson’s “There’s a Certain Slant of Light” was about the existential agony of baseball’s early months.

      • TomH

        How beautiful those lines are.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      It happens. At least you’re self-aware about it.

  • jjyank

    I’m intrigued by that batting order. I’d like to see Jeter-Arod-Cano-Grandy, even just for one game. But I doubt it will happen.

  • What the Kruk?

    Jack Z.’s secretary transferring call to Jack: “It’s that dope Cashman on line 1.”

  • Duh Innings

    A-Rod in the #2 and back to back lefty hitters in the 3-4 (Cano-Granderson)? Nah. That’s alot of strikeouts in the #2 and #4, too.

    Here’s the batting order I think the Yankees should employ:

    Teixiera (Too bad if he doesn’t like it.)
    Rodriguez DH (^^^^^^^^)
    Nunez 3B
    Stewart R (bench Martin)

    I’d rather have Jeter up with 1-3 men on to start the game than leading off the game.

  • Duh Innings

    My batting order has the three best Yankee hitters be the heart of the order.

  • Duh Innings

    Oh yeah – my logic behind Jeter in the cleanup is while he doesn’t hit many homeruns, I’ll take a guy hitting well over .300 in the cleanup over a guy who can’t hit for average or get on base (A-Rod) or can get on base but can’t for average (Teixiera.)

    It’s all about BA and SLG in the heart of the order, not OBP.

  • rogue

    If the Yankees are serious about winning and getting under $189 mil for 2014, they’d remove ARod from the 40-man after this season. He’s become the perennial anchor for this team.

    • http://none Dick Cheney’s Arm

      I am tired of AROD too, Bring back Sheffield and his rosy personality

  • http://none Minka

    just not into Sheff sorry..