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Dissecting and Assembling a Lineup

October 2007

Matt Imbrogno

 

            There were two relative weak spots in the lineup for the New York Yankees this season. Those spots were the leadoff spot and, understandably, the eight spot. While they did very well leading off an inning, .287/. 358/. 478/. 836, the splits for the Yankees 1 spot weren't that great. They looked like this: .266/.347/.380/.727. The first isn't bad but the OBP is way too low for someone at the top of the order. Despite this, the Yankees once again had the most potent offense in the big leagues. Just imagine what they could do, though, if they had a better guy at the top of the order.

 

            The eight spot, traditionally the spot for the worst hitter in the AL lineup, had the lowest split average, OBP, SLG, and OPS of the Yankees lineup. While this isn't too troubling, it's never nice to have a spot that weak.

 

            How, then, ought the Yankees assemble their lineup? The lineup they're using obviously seems to work but shaking things up a bit may not be a bad idea and the new manager may just do that.

 

            First, we'll start with the leadoff position. The potential candidates are the traditional lead off hitter Johnny Damon, Mr. Consistency Derek Jeter, or maybe even Melky Cabrera. Johnny Damon seems like the logical choice as his best career splits are out of the leadoff spot, however, I still don't think a .353 OBP is the best thing to have in the leadoff spot. By no means is that bad but I'd still like someone with a little more patience at the absolute top of the order. Melky Cabrera also has his best splits out of the leadoff spot, batting .293/.373 (well above his career mark)/ .409/.782. That's all well and good but when batting to leadoff an inning, Melky's OBP is only .348. Again, it's not bad but the leadoff guy should be getting on a little more than that. That brings us to the Yankee captain, Derek Jeter. Yes, he's a mainstay in the 2 spot but I think he could be just as effective, if not more so, in the leadoff position. His career average is the same as in the two spot and his OBP, SLG, and OPS go up a few points. When leading off an inning, Derek bats .335 with a .390 OBP, a .530 SLG, and a .920 OPS. Those numbers are terrific. Derek Jeter should be batting leadoff for the New York Yankees.

 

            Logically, the second spot comes next. Who should take that hole that Jeter is vacating? Johnny Damon is the one who should be batting second. He is essentially a number two hitter anyway, with a good OBP but not a great one, who can provide some sporadic pop. His splits in the two spot are almost identical to his spots in the leadoff spot so it wouldn't be too drastic a shift for him.

 

            Bobby Abreu's option will probably be picked up and when it is, he should stay in the three spot. He's a perfect number three hitter-he's a good contact hitter with a great OBP and a career slugging percentage of .500. He's absolutely perfect for the Yankees style of batting and for the three spot.

 

            A-Rod will be a Yankee next year and will stay in the cleanup spot. If you need me to explain this to you, you are a bonafide moron.

           

            The fifth spot is a tough one-you could argue that Robinson Cano's power is being wasted towards the bottom of the order and he could be more useful closer to the top of the order. However, Hideki Matsui is a damn good five hitter, too. Jorge Posada is another option. For my five spot, I'm going to take Robinson Cano. With more men on in front of him, we will see how valuable he can really be. While his slugging took a big dip this year, it was still good at .488. His slugging in the second half also really picked up from .427 to .557. Another good sign was his OBP increase from a dismal .314 to a very good .396. Hopefully, that trend continues since that is the one hole in Cano's offensive game. Young Robbie's got good power and with guys like Rodriguez and Abreu in front of him, he will become even more productive and appease the RBI fans.

 

            Sixth will go to Jorge Posada. He rakes out of the sixth spot (.296/.402/.520/.922) and is coming off of a great offensive year in which he batted mostly in the six spot. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?

 

            Hideki Matsui only has 294 PA s for his career in the seven spot but they are a very good 294 plate appearances: .337/.432/.546/.978. Those are great numbers and with him down that low in the order, it ads a ton of pop and could help set the table for the top of the order.

 

            Eighth will go to whoever plays first base. As of right now, there are 4 people who could possibly do it and I have no idea who it will be. If it were up to me, though, I'd platoon between Shelley Duncan and Wilson Betemit. While you sacrifice the defense of Doug Mientkiewitcz and Andy Phillips, you get much more offense and a few years younger. Also, the former two aren't exactly slouches on defense. Duncan's another guy who can hit for power but, honestly, there's no other real spot for him in the lineup. A powerful bottom of the order is great for the Yankees since they tend not to play small ball. While Duncan's OBP was pretty low in the Majors, it was .337 in the minors. It's not great but it's serviceable for the 8 spot in a great order. Betemit also has most of his career plate appearances in the eight spot and I think he could also do very well there.

 

            Melky Cabrera will take his normal spot in the ninth spot. He's had most of his at bat's and plate appearances there and makes decent contact out of there. His average from the ninth spot is .293 which is his best split, tied with the leadoff spot. However, he has more PA s out of the ninth spot so it's a little more reliable.

 

            So, my order would go like this:

  1. Derek Jeter, SS
  2. Johnny Damon, LF
  3. Bobby Abreu, RF
  4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
  5. Robinson Cano, 2B
  6. Jorge Posada, C
  7. Hideki Matsui, DH
  8. Shelley Duncan/Wilson Betemit, 1B
Melky Cabrera, CF.

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