Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Should Jeter Bat Leadoff?

Who should bat leadoff for the New York Yankees, Johnny Damon or Derek Jeter? Damon has occupied that position most of his Yankee career, while Jeter held the post earlier in his.

His relatively low OBP(.363) notwithstanding last year, Jeter has a higher career OBP than Damon. Wouldn’t it be wise to have the first batter with the higher OBP? You could give the extra AB to the player with the higher chance of extending a late inning rally.

Jeter grounded into 24 double plays last year (and 21 in 2007). Damon, a lefty who gets out of the box quicker, grounded into 4 (and has a career high of 13). Thus, more people will be on base for when the “meat” of the order comes up.

I think the best hitter on the team should bat 3rd. The best hitter on the Yankees is A-Rod. This would leave the lineup as Jeter/Damon/A-Rod/Teixeira. By virtue of this right/left/right/switch staggering, the Yankees are better protected from strategic bullpen management by opposing managers than they would if Jeter batted 2nd.

Below are Jeter’s career stats.

Batting leadoff -- .315/.389/.471 in over 2,100 at bats
Batting 2nd -- .316/.386/.459 in over 5,700 at bats

Per ESPN's splits for last three years (06-08):

Damon leading off an inning .290/.370/.442/.812 in 652 AB
Jeter leading off an inning .352/.402/.515/.920 in 344 AB

Based on these aspects, I think Jeter should lead off. To hell with tradition.

1 comment:

  1. Joe - I couldn't agree with you more, and loved the fact that Girardi never went this way. I would've gone Jeter/Abreu/Arod last year. Though I get the argument you want guys on for ARod - you want your best batter getting as many at bats as possible - and the potential for him not to get up in the 1st inning is just silly. I think you hope you can by midseason rock Jeter/Cano/Arod/Tex - because that will mean Cano is hitting his potential, and the Red Sox are in deep shit.