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?