By Sweeny Murti
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Lineup questions are all the rage these days. It seems unfathomable to many fans that Joe Girardi would bat his leading home run (and strikeout) man in the leadoff spot.
Here is what Girardi had to say about his recent decision to move Curtis Granderson to the top of the order:
“At times we talk about lineup as it’s centered around one guy when you have to make nine pieces fit. You could say we’re going to talk about one guy and put him here and we’re going to do everything around him, you can do that. But the centerpiece in your lineup right now is probably Cano so you look at him and try to set your lineup the best way you can.”
If this was simply about Granderson, everyone seems to agree he is not the ideal leadoff hitter. But his on-base percentage vs. right-handed pitchers is among the highest on the team. In fact, among the healthy regulars only Cano is higher, and as Girardi explained he uses him as the centerpiece. Granderson could move to fifth with Teixeira in the clean-up spot, but then it bunches up Eric Chavez, Raul Ibanez, and Ichiro Suzuki and makes the Yankees susceptible to lefties out of the bullpen.
Again, this is more about making everybody fit together, not just batting one guy in one spot. And it’s a lot different when A-Rod is in there. Even in a down year, his presence in the four-hole makes the lineup look and work a lot differently.
As with most decisions from Girardi, he has reasons for them that are well thought out. Making the average fan accept them is a whole ‘nother story.
*While we’re on the subject of lineups, has there ever been a better spot in the Yankee lineup than the two-hole? Look back at the recent years there by Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon, Nick Swisher, and Curtis Granderson. There isn’t a better spot to hit than in front of the big boppers in the middle of the order.
*The Yankees have faced Justin Verlander and Felix Hernandez six times this year and split those games 3-3, with all three losses coming in the last two weeks. Maybe it’s that they were so recent that has you all off kilter, but the Yankees have beaten No. 1 pitchers this year.
The fact this team is slumping since the All-Star break should be considered just that—a slump, until it becomes something more. Everyone goes through it. The Rangers have, the Angels have, the White Sox have, the Tigers have, the A’s have. Anybody else that you worry about losing to in October? They might all look better than the Yankees at this very moment, but they’ve all looked plenty worse too. The playoffs have long been about playing the best in October, not being the best. Just look at last year as an example. Play well for most of the year and you have a chance in October, and that’s all you can ask.
*How special was Verlander’s game Monday night? His 14 strikeouts were the most by an opposing starter against the Yankees since Pedro Martinez dominated the Yankees with a one-hit, 17-K game in 1999. Verlander actually gave up eight hits, so he worked from the stretch most of the night and racked up 11 strikeouts with men on base. His 130th pitch of the night was 100 miles per hour. That was followed by an 86 mph changeup and an 82 mph curveball. Simply amazing.
What are your thoughts on Granderson in the leadoff spot? Be heard in the comments below!