At yesterday’s press conference, Yankee beat reporter Sweeney Murti asked manager Joe Girardi what his number one concern was going into the 2010 season. He replied that the biggest issue he has to iron out in his own mind, is the Yankee lineup. Here’s what Girardi said:
“I’m not concerned that we don’t have the players to do it; I’m concerned exactly how we place them. There is a ton of talent in that room. We have very good hitters up and down that lineup, but you want to try to find the right mix. … The concern is exactly where we put them, not that we don’t have the right pieces. I believe we have the right pieces.”
In my view, the biggest question is in what to do with Nick Johnson and Curtis Granderson. 1-4 is mostly set (except for #2) we know Gardner and Swisher will be near the bottom, and Cano has to prove he can drive in runs to move up in the order, so he’s going to hit 6th or 7th. The real question in my mind is what to do with our two new additions, both of whom are very talented but bring different skills to the table.
So who’s your 1-9? I’ll start:
That’s my lineup facing Righties, which of course is most days. Johnson hits #2 facing a Lefty and Grandy drops down to 8th with everyone else moving up a notch. I like the protection Tex gives Grandy, I like his speed at the top of the lineup, and his OBP is .367 facing Righties (Johnson .394). I think Grandy’s speed on the basepaths will make up for the .027 difference in OBP, and then some.
Now I know some will only look at the OBP and decide Johnson’s the better fit in the 2-hole. Solely looking at OBP is myopic. You have to also consider the complete skill sets of the players involved. Grandy’s a plus runner and on the flip side, Johnson’s a sub par runner. So the spread between the two players is big once they’re on the bases, and the difference between their ability to get on base is fairly small. With a difference .027 of OBP between the two players facing Righties, you’re talking about Johnson getting on base 1 extra time every 40 ABs, and generating about 1 extra run per month. I think that with Grandy’s speed he will score runs more often, even if he has a few less opportunities. There’s also double plays to consider. Granderson is an extreme fly ball hitter who grounded into a grand total of ONE double play last season. Nick Johnson, on the other hand, grounded into 15.
In my lineup, you don’t lose Nick’s bat. It’s not like Johnson doesn’t hit in my lineup. He does, so his OBP will be in there. Those who want Johnson hitting 2nd could argue that Nick being on base for the power guys behind him would add up to him scoring when Grandy was never on base to begin with. Which is true, but you hit more singles and doubles than you do HRs. Grandy can steal 2B and score on a single, score from 1B on a double when Nick would get stranded at 3B. I think the latter will happen far more often than the former, and more than makes up for the difference in OBP. Curtis’ speed means he can score in many situations where Nick will not. The idea is to score runs, not to get and base and be stranded.
Finally, I’m not married to this lineup. I can see Cano moving up and Posada moving down if things play out the way I suspect they will. But I want to smooth Curtis’ transition to the Bronx, since defensively I would put him in Left. So offensively, I want to make things easy for him. He’ll see better pitches with Tex on deck and his speed with make the run scoring at the top of the lineup more efficient.
(pic courtesy of SI.com)