Platoon splits abound in Yankees’ lineup

Death By Double Plays
Chavez says every day is “a huge hurdle to climb physically”

You might not have seen him writing around here lately, but that doesn’t mean RAB editor Moshe Mandel is out of ideas. In fact, he mentioned something this morning that interested me greatly: perhaps the Yankees’ offensive woes center on their platoon splits. That’s certainly worth a quick examination. Here’s how the Yankees’ starters fare when broken down by the opposing pitchers’ handedness.

Lineup vs. RHP
Derek Jeter: .279/.338/.358
Curtis Granderson: .252/.352/.535
Alex Rodriguez: .286/.360/.409
Robinson Cano: .331/.386/.616
Mark Teixeira: .268/.352/.500
Raul Ibanez: .259/.314/.511
Nick Swisher: .266/.323/.510
Eric Chavez: .274/.322/.452
Russell Martin: .183/.314/.357

There don’t seem to be many problems with this arrangement against right-handed starters. Jeter is a bit miscast as the leadoff hitter here, but there’s no way he’s leaving that spot. A-Rod is actually sporting the closest to ideal leadoff numbers so far, but we know that he’ll never slide into that spot. Perhaps switching him and Granderson would help a bit, but it’s not a huge deal.

The main problem against righties is quite obvious. They’re simply not getting enough hits. There’s plenty of power in the middle of the order and most of them get on base at a good clip, but the base hits just aren’t dropping. As we’ve seen when they have runners in scoring position, that becomes a problem. They can score runs in bunches with the homer, but knocking in that runner from second remains an issue.

Lineup vs. LHP
Derek Jeter: .418/.452/.627
Curtis Granderson: .250/.329/.500
Mark Teixeira: .222/.269/.417
Alex Rodriguez: .258/.395/.468
Robinson Cano: .232/.284/.378
Nick Swisher: .200/.270/.345
Andruw Jones: .204/.267/.389
*Raul Ibanez: .227/.261/.364
Russell Martin: .333/.463/.697

*Jayson Nix is at .250/.286/.350 against LHP.

Overall the Yankees have relatively even platoon splits, but it’s pretty clear that three players are carrying the load here. In particular Jeter and Martin account for most of the offensive output against lefties, while Rodriguez has good on-base and power numbers. The problem is the lack of on-base from hitters five through eight, and to a lesser extend two and three.

Granderson’s .500 SLG (and .250 ISO) would seem to bode well here. Hitting in front of him are two hitters with OBPs over .450, which would seemingly play well with his power numbers. Yet the timing just hasn’t been there. Granderson has 19 hits against left-handed pitching, including six homers, yet he has driven in only 12 runs.

Again, while it will never happen, using an order of Jeter-Martin-Rodriguez-Granderson against lefties would seemingly work well. That concentrates their best hitters, giving them chances to score with base hits, and, later in the order, with the long ball. The second half of the lineup wouldn’t look nice, but it’s definitely better to group the best hitters, since it gives you a better chance to string together hits and therefore score runs.

Adding a wrinkle to the matter, the Yankees actually do better when facing a left-handed starter than they do a right-handed starter. For instance, Granderson’s average against left-handed starters is .284, because he destroys right-handed relievers. Cano, Jones, and especially Ibanez (since he’s often inserted as a PH when a left-handed starter is on the mound) show marked improvement when we consider games that left-handers start, rather than numbers strictly against left-handed pitching.

These platoon splits don’t exactly provide insightful revelations, but they do put matters in perspective. The Yankees aren’t firing on all cylinders quite yet, and the platoon splits play a role in that. If things start to even out — if Cano, Teixeira, and Swisher start hitting lefties to the level of their talent — then things will start to even out. Against right-handers it’s a bit murkier a picture. Who is going to step up and start driving in runners with men on base against righties?

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Death By Double Plays
Chavez says every day is “a huge hurdle to climb physically”
  • MattG

    Yet Girardi continues to “break up the lefties” by hitting a right-hander third vs RHP. Idito.

    btw, i only read the headline of your post, too busy, you know

  • Matty Ice

    Andrew Jones hitting .204 against lefties?

    What is his role again?

    • RetroRob

      Hit RHP, of course, where he’s triple-slashing at .286/.412/.643 for a 1.055 OPS.

      Splits on platoon players when we’re barely past a third of the season are pointless.

      Same with Teix and Swisher. They hit lefties hard during their carees, which means it’ll even out as the season progresses.

    • Steve (different one)

      It’s 54 ABs…

  • Rainbow Connection (futurely Dummies Playing With Balls and/or RI$P FTW)

    disappointing that tex has struggled against lefties this year. on the other hand, martin needs to get more starts vs lhp. it seems like girardi puts stewart in whenever theres a lefty starting on the other team or its CCs turn.

    • Nightwing

      I have wondered if Stewart is CC’s personal catcher. Seems like he is always catching CC.

      • Rainbow Connection (futurely Dummies Playing With Balls and/or RI$P FTW)

        its the worst kept secret on the team.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Wait…..you’re RI$P FTW? To think I took that screen name seriously for about half a second.

          • Rainbow Connection (futurely Dummies Playing With Balls and/or RI$P FTW)

            im neither, im just mocking the guy who keeps changing them. he will have a new one when he sees this im sure.

            regarding taking him seriously, thats on you. his style is obvious.

      • yoo-boo

        Last year it was Cerivelli.

  • JM

    Wouldnt Scott Hairston look real good in Andrew Jones’ spot right about now??

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Interesting depth idea. Wouldn’t cost much. I don’t know if the team is going to be looking for these sort of bench pick-me-ups. They’ve actually done such a better job at having vets at those spots at the start versus middle of the year.

      • The Guns of Navarone

        Yeah I’d rather put my confidence in Jones that he’ll pick up the slack rather than give something of value for Hairston. Plus I don’t see the Mets trying to move him.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Shit, I think he’d be one of the top pieces for them to move at the deadline if they truly wind up out of it. It’d be selling high, if such a thing exists for one of the Hairston brothers.

          • The Guns of Navarone

            I see your point.

            I was thinking they would keep him with all the outfield help they need. Not sure how long they plan on running Jason Bay out there.

  • yoo-boo

    Teixeria and Swisher against Southpaw is the most disappointment.

    Jeter has been plummeting to hell since he reached 70 hits.

  • Fin

    LOL, the team is on a roll and everyday all I can find to read is about the RISP situation. The Yankees wont lead the league in that catagory as they have been so awful to this point and I doubt it evens out this year. However, the odds are strongly in favor of them doing much better going forward. It would be nice to see some more pieces on how well the Yankees are pitching rather than why they arent winning by more runs.

    • The Guns of Navarone

      Yes, but this post is about platoon splits.

      • Fin

        Platoon splits and how they effect the RISP. My comment was more tongue and check then serious though.