One logistical question that Joe Girardi will have to address going into the season is how exactly he will construct the middle of his lineup. Namely, there are those who are wondering the order in which he will place Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira. Joe DelGrippo of foxsports.com attempts to address the issue:
And the way to bring Alex back to MVP form is to hit A-Rod third and Mark Teixeira fourth in the new Yankees lineup. A-Rod had his way with pitchers during 2007 when he hit cleanup spot and produced a .314 BA/.422 OBP/.645 SLG with an OPS+ of 177 — the highest of his career. He scored a career-high 143 runs, hit 54 homers and drove in a career-high 156 runs. But, Alex also had a very hot hitter hitting behind him the entire season. Not one particular guy, but a terrifically concocted Joe Torre combination of Jason Giambi, Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui……But, 2008 was a different story. Injuries cost Posada and Matsui most of 2008 and Giambi was too inconsistent. As a result, A-Rod didn’t have the proper protection and didn’t see enough quality pitches to hit. His frustration at being pitched around led him to repeatedly swing at bad pitches, not just pitches outside the strike zone, but also good pitchers pitches within the strike zone. He began to get himself out, and his lack of patience is shown in his 65 walks — his lowest total in 10 years.
Alex has shown impatience at the plate and at this point of his career, he needs proper lineup support. Teixeira has shown that he provides that support, helping Chipper Jones during their time in Atlanta, especially with his power numbers. And Teixeira has shown that he can hit without protection.
Teixeira will get A-Rod better pitches to hit. And with Teixeira still in his prime and A-Rod getting a little past it, A-Rod is going to need that lineup support more than ever.
Alex Rodriguez should hit third and Mark Teixeira should hit cleanup.
I totally disagree. It is important to note that most statisticians would tell you that the idea of “protection” is a myth with no basis in observable data. However, having a great hitter batting in front of your best hitter certainly improves your chances of knocking in a run, so that there is an observable benefit to be had by having, say, Mark Teixeira hitting before A-Rod.
Further, DelGrippo’s argument makes some assumptions that have no real theoretical support. He assumes that A-Rod’s great 2007 was aided by his protection in the lineup, while his lesser 2008 was injured by the lack thereof. However, it is important to note that Derek Jeter and Bobby Abreu had superior seasons in 2007 while hitting in front of Alex. It can just as easily be asserted that Alex’s weaker 2008 was a result of the decline in production from the hitters preceding him rather than from those following him.
DelGrippo also asserts that the hitters who protected Alex in 2007 were instrumental to his success. He seems to ignore the possibility that he is once again confusing cause and effect, as it is possible that each of the hitters who batted behind A-Rod had their numbers improved by having Alex on base all the time. Personally, I would rather reap the obvious benefits of having a hitter of Teixeira’s caliber hit in front of A-Rod rather than depend on the nebulous idea of “protection” and have Tex in the cleanup spot. It is not like Tex is Jim Rice, anyhow. (Now that guy was feared!!!!)
As long as the goal is to maximize runs scored, Mark Teixeira should hit third and Alex Rodriguez should hit cleanup.
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