Aug
06

On flipping Granderson and Jeter

By

(Al Bello/Getty Images)

The Yankees have dealt with a number of significant injuries this season, including recent issues with Alex Rodriguez (hand), Mark Teixeira (wrist), and Nick Swisher (hip). A-Rod is on the DL and out until at least early-September, but the other two only missed a handful of games and have since returned to the lineup. Joe Girardi had to do some lineup shuffling in the meantime to get by.

One minor change that has stuck involves the top two hitters in the batting order — Curtis Granderson has batted leadoff for the last three games while Derek Jeter has hit second. It had been the other way around for the first hundred or so games of the season. Here is the skipper’s semi-explanation for the switch, courtesy of Brian Heyman

“Grandy falls in the category of he’s one of our higher (on-base) guys, so that’s why he goes there,” Girardi said. “Well, you could say, ‘Grandy is a power hitter.’ Well, so is (Robinson Cano). So is Tex. So is Swish. So is (Raul Ibanez). So you say, ‘Why don’t you move him back?’ Well, then who do I move up to the front with speed? You might say, ‘OK, why don’t you move (Ichiro Suzuki) up?’ Well, his on-base is not as high as it’s been in the past. So then you try to break up your left-handers with your switch-hitters and your right-handers, so it’s not easy for them to get through the lineup.

“If we had all of our hitters present, Granderson wouldn’t lead off. But with the injury to Alex, you have to make some adjustments.”

The whole left/right thing seems to be a major factor factor here. Leaving Granderson in the two-hole means he and Cano would be hitting back-to-back, inviting other managers to bring in their top lefty specialist in the late-innings. That might not be a huge deal given how well Granderson has hit lefties since being #cured and how Cano has handled lefties historically, though Robbie has struggled against southpaws in 2012.

Anyway, Girardi actually broached the idea of flipping Jeter and Granderson way back at the start of Spring Training. I looked at it a little more in-depth then and said I was intrigued and that it was probably worth a shot, though that analysis is a bit outdated now given Brett Gardner‘s injury and some other factors. Grandy isn’t the prototypical leadoff guy because of his mid-.200s batting average and strikeouts, but he draws a ton of walks (12.2%) and maintains a solid OBP (.342). Jeter has actually gotten on-base more often this season (.358) but he is a double play machine (16 GIDP already), so he’s not an ideal number two hitter either.

Despite all that, I still think it’s worth trying just because it could potentially get you that one extra plate appearance from Curtis in any given game, and that could be mean a run(s) with one swing. I do dislike the bunting potential though, Jeter does it on his own all the time. It’s not even the giving up outs thing, bunting a runner over in front of Cano means he might get intentionally walked or just see fewer pitches to hit in general. Perhaps the answer is to have Granderson steal some more bases (just eight steals in eleven attempts this year) just to avoid the bunts and double plays.

Batting order is easiest thing to quibble with but for the most part the impact is small, at least minor moves like this one. If Granderson was batting ninth all of a sudden, that would be a problem. The Yankees have a decent-sized lead in the standings and will need to figure things out with A-Rod, who despite his diminished production was still was a threat in the middle third of the lineup. I don’t think moving Granderson down into the middle of the order (and thus giving him fewer at-bats) is the best solution, but moving him up that one spot might be. If it turns out to be a problem because Jeter is hitting into double plays or something, then they can just go back to the way they had it before. It’s a small tinker worth trying.

Categories : Offense

23 Comments»

  1. Andy Pettitte's Fibula (formerly Manny's BanWagon) says:

    I think it’s a mistake to bat Granderson lead off because he’s leading the team in HRs and they now have Martin and Ichiro, the 2 hitters with the lowest OBP setting the table for him.

    He may get an extra AB or 2 over the course of a week but it seems he’s gonna be batting with the bases empty more than if he batted behind Jeter.

  2. Get Phelps Up says:

    My ideal lineup until ARod comes back would be:
    Jeter
    Swisher
    Cano
    Tex
    Grandy
    Ibanez/Jones
    Chavez
    Martin/Stewart
    Ichiro

    • Ro says:

      Despite it’s conventional wisdom, I always liked Gardner in that 9 hole. During games that was havoc for opposing pitchers and I like Ichiro there as well. I’ve been a bit stumped on the 8 hole thing, but it’s really rather minor and I’m sure Girardi has had his reasons. As for the Granderson and Jeter flip, I don’t know, I don’t mind it, but I do agree with you that Swisher might be a better candidate to be hitting there and Granderson #5. I think having Granderson hit leadoff allows for him to see a few better pitches in the early innings.

    • jjyank says:

      I’m down with that.

    • Professor Longnose says:

      I’d flip Granderson and Teixeira here, but you’ve got it about right.

      Granderson has hit 20 solo HRs this season. He needs to hit with more men on base.

      • Steve (different one) says:

        While I agree with the sentiment, perhaps Granderson doesn’t get that fastball to hit out quite as often if there are men on base.

        • Professor Longnose says:

          Worth a shot. Besides, Granderson knows how to take a walk, and walking him would mean more men on base for Teiseira.

        • Derek says:

          Eh I think this year is just a blip, he hit 20 w/ men and 20 w/ bases empty last year.

          In general he just has not hit nearly as well this year with men on

  3. Steve (different one) says:

    There are good arguments on both sides. In one way it “sets a trap” for the other manager. if he is tempted to leave a lefty in for Granderson and Cano, Jeter gets to feast on the lefty or they burn 3 pitchers.

    In general I like the way Girardi is approaching it: higher OBP toward the top, lower towards the bottom. You get that concept, you are 90% there and the rest is tinkering.

  4. cashmoney says:

    for the most psrt, Ichy’s average is his obp which is no good at the top. I consider flip flop swisher and Grandyman, but it really isn’t a huge deal. This lineup is not circular with guys like Martin and Ichy at the bottom.

    One thing i say about ichy is that he still quite adroit at handling pitches of all shapes or forms, that he never looked overmatched.

  5. Jim Is Bored says:

    Batting order: fun to think about, not worth worrying about.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      Pretty much how I see it. I am such a big believer in “guy holding the bat should do something productive” regardless of what else is going on.

    • Derek says:

      Yea it generally doesn’t make a difference if a guy hits 3 vs. 4 or what not. The most important thing is just getting your best guys as many ABs as possible

  6. Laz says:

    I really like the move. Grandy takes alot more walks than Jeter, so he can get on and jeter can move him over. Plus Granderson should get more at bats over the game, and more home runs. Plus I like the spreading out of the power hitters. If they bunch Grandy, Teix, Cano you theoretically get alot of times that grandy has the bases empty by the time the #5 slot comes around, and then account for the times the #5 hitter strikes out with the bases loaded. Don’t get greedy, spread out you HR hitters, and you will see alot of 2 run hrs.

  7. smurfy says:

    Jeter has been fabulous as a leadoff hitter.

    Unless Joe has some motivational motive for Grandy hitting leadoff, I agree that Swish as 2 and Grandy 5 is the ticket.

  8. vnymfk says:

    Swisher
    Granderson
    Jeter
    Cano
    Teixeira
    Ibanez Jones
    Chavez
    Ichiro
    martin

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