I’m about to say something I didn’t think I would say at any point during this season:
It is time to move Derek Jeter out of the leadoff spot. The game against the Jays is still going on, and maybe Jeter will do something awesome in the late innings to make this post look silly, but I’m not wavering (at least until he improves): Jeter needs to be batting lower in the order.
This has essentially been a career worst season for Jeter no matter how you look at it. Starting with the numbers, we see a low IsoP (.113, second lowest of his career). We see a career low AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS, wOBA, wRC+…the list goes on.
In terms of the more scouting aspects of the game, we can see it. His bat looks slow. His strikezone judgment has been poor (29.3 O-Swing% is a career high). He’s not hitting the ball with authority (career low 17.4 LD%, 66.5 GB%) and he’s seeing a career low 3.55 pitches per plate appearance. He also seems to have lost some bat speed. While Jeter was never a pull hitter, it seems like he’s been totally un able to do so this year with just a handful of hits to the left side:
This has not been a pretty 2009 for Jeter and unless he gets on a hot streak quickly, the Yankees need to move him from the leadoff spot. I will say that the difference between an “optimized” lineup and non-optimized lineup is rather small, but in a race that looks like it’s going to be tight for the rest of the season, it may need to be done.
If I were Joe Girardi, I’d order my guys like this:
1. Gardner, LF
2. Swisher, RF
3. Teixeira, 1B
4. Rodriguez, 3B
5. Cano, 2B
6. Posada, C
7. Berkman, DH
8. Jeter, SS
9. Granderson, CF
Yeah, I know. I’ve got Derek Jeter, the Yankee captain, batting eighth. Well, right now, his performance merits that. Last night, Rebecca made a similar argument so at least I’m not alone:
If Jeter was not Derek Jeter, if he was, say, Brett Gardner or even Nick Swisher with these numbers, he’d be hitting at the bottom of the line up, the type of weak hitter you can manage in a line up full of All Stars because his defense makes up for the lack of his bat.
This whole article is probably an exercise in futility as I doubt the Yankee organization has the balls to do that to Jeter, but it should be done. If it’s not done, it makes me very fearful of his coming contract negotiations. If they can’t move him down in the lineup, how are they going to negotiate with Jeter? Keeping Jeter in the leadoff spot is placating and appeasing Derek to no end. If we, as Yankee fans, saw any other team doing this, we’d be laughing. Objectively, Derek Jeter is hurting the team as the leadoff hitter. Let Gardner get a shot for now, Joe.