Time for another lineup shake up?Granderson's leadoff struggles could be cause for concern
So then, in the latest installment of potential lineup shakeup theatrics, one has to wonder if it might not be a bad idea to shake things up again while Alex Rodriguez is out.
Rodriguez’ injury, coupled with Nick Swisher’s balky groin and Teixeira’s missed with a sore wrist, has forced Girardi to shuffle the deck consistently over the last couple weeks depending on who was in the lineup. But with Tex and Swisher back and Ichiro on board to replace Brett Gardner full-time, Girardi can throw a pretty consistent nine out there depending on the handed-ness of the opposing pitcher.
Of late, that nine has seen a bit of a shakeup not related to injury, as Curtis Granderson has moved to the leadoff spot with Derek Jeter dropped to second. That move came as somewhat of a surprise, given that the Yankees do have Ichiro – one of the top leadoff hitters of all-time, perhaps – in the fold, as well as a guy in Swisher who has excelled in the past as a No. 2 hitter.
On the first note, Girardi told the media on Tuesday that “as you'd like to say he (Ichiro) is getting on base 40 percent of the time, he's not. It's about 31 percent of the time. And then you've got Grandy who's higher than that, and Jeet's higher than that, and Cano's higher than that. If it were three or four years ago, it's probably a different story."
Okay, that part is true; Ichiro’s OBP this year is actually .288 through Tuesday’s game (and .286 as a Yankee), while Jeter (.357), Granderson (.335), and even Swisher (.342) are much higher.
Unfortunately, that’s an average over 100 or so games, and averages aren’t helping the Yankees win today, tomorrow, or any other day that isn’t in the past. If you want to look at more fluid relevant numbers, there are a few that are concerning – namely the fact that while Ichiro has hit safely in 13 of his first 14 games as a Yankee (even if 12 of them were one-hit games) and Jeter is hitting .360 in the No. 2 slot, Granderson is just 2-for-20 as the leadoff hitter in the last week and 5-for-42 (.119) in the last 10 games overall.
As for the second point, one does have to realize that lineup management is a science, and given that five of the “regular” nine are lefties, too much bunching makes it easier on opposing managers to utilize lefties in their bullpen late in games.
But again, Cano (.313-24-64, .245 vs. LHP) and Granderson (.240-29-62, .231 vs. LHP) are supposed to be two of the game’s elite hitters, so them handling lefties even if they hit back-to-back is, theoretically, not supposed to be a problem.
No matter how it is sliced or dissected, the Yankees have lost seven of their last 10, and it’s been the guys lower in the lineup – like Ichiro, Eric Chavez, and even Russell Martin – who have done the majority of the damage lately.
Given his power potential, many experts and armchair managers alike have long thought Granderson should be further down in the order – and as he is hitting .262 with three homers in 42 at-bats in the fifth or sixth slot this year, his numbers seem to reflect that a bit as well.
So, with Granderson struggling, A-Rod out for a while, and another aging yet experienced (and productive) leadoff guy in the fold, might now be the time to try it?
Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES