Lineup construction is something that we’ll never tire of arguing over. We didn’t stop arguing about it even into the playoffs. So, I figured I’d get the ball rolling and get us thinking about 2012′s lineup and what it could look like. For the sake of this post, we’ll assume that Nick Swisher‘s 2012 option is picked up (like it should be) and that Jesus Montero is going to be on the team for the entire year (like he should be).
There are obviously a few ways we could go with this. We could go with the “traditional” lineup construction or go with the “optimized” lineup construction. We’ll do one, and then take our crack at the other.
Let’s start with the traditional way against right handed pitchers. Remember, this is what I think the lineup should be, not necessarily what it will be.
1. Brett Gardner, LF
2. Curtis Granderson, CF
3-4-5: Some combination of Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Teixeira. Does it really matter that much?
6. Nick Swisher, RF
7. Jesus Montero, DH
8. Russell Martin, C
9. Derek Jeter, SS
As for the lineup against lefty pitchers, that depends on a few things. If the Yankees want to just use Russell Martin at catcher and have Montero DH full time, then nothing really changes, but Jeter goes to the leadoff spot and Gardner goes back down to ninth. You could also toy around with Swisher, Granderson, and Rodriguez a bit since Swisher has been hitting well right handed the last few years and has hit the better (.377 wOBA) than he has lefties (.350 wOBA) in his career while Granderson sees to have figured out his platoon issues, and A-Rod has had a reverse platoon split of late (excuse the run-on).
Trying to optimize the lineup actually gets a little tricky for the Yankees. We can use this as our guide. Hell, we run into a snag at the first spot. Obviously, we want a high OBP guy at the top of the lineup, but which one? Could we go with Swisher? Sure, but he hits enough home runs that he warrants a position lower in the order. The same could be said of Curtis Granderson or Alex Rodriguez. I guess that leaves Brett Gardner, but we’d want to utilize his steals in front of singles hitters lower in the lineup. Let’s bite the bullet, though, and go on pure OBP skill for the first spot. If we do that, it’s Nick Swisher all the way.
Again, though, we’re going to run into a snag. Essentially, you want your three best hitters in the 1, 2, and 4 spots. So, whom are we going to identify as the team’s three best hitters? Nick Swisher may be the best OBP guy on the team, but I don’t think I’d call him one of the three best hitters on the team. But the fact remains that Swisher’s OBP skill is superior to the other players. I think I keep him at number one and go a bit against the Book. Then, I’d have Granderson bat second because he’s also a high OBP guy. Cano can move to cleanup.
Then, we’ve got to decide whom we want batting third and whom we want batting fifth. Our guide tells us that the fifth spot is more important than the third, so who goes there? Is it Alex Rodriguez or is it Mark Teixeira? Maybe here’s where we deal with our first platoon issue. Tex has hit lefties better than A-Rod has and A-Rod has been better against righties. Maybe against LHP, Tex bats fifth and A-Rod third. Against righties, we flip them to Tex third and Rodriguez fifth.
The guide identifies the sixth spot as a good place for a base stealer so he can be on base in front of singles hitters, so we could slot Gardner in here in front of the team’s singles hitters–Rusell Martin and Derek Jeter. However, this would mean Jesus Montero would bat ninth. I don’t love that idea and I’m willing to buck the Book again and put Montero sixth. This way, his power bat gets more plate appearances and we can slot Gardner in at seventh with the singles hitters behind him.
Another complication I didn’t take into account was the idea that Gardner could be platooned in left field, thus necessitating a right handed bat. Until that bat reveals itself, though, I’m going to assume Gardner starts against lefties, Martin gets the day off, Montero catches, and Eduardo Nunez gets some reps at third (I think this is at least reasonably likely). And, let’s not forget that Derek Jeter is much better against lefties than he is against righties, so he, too, could be moved up.
So our semi-optimized lineup…
1. Swisher, RF
2. Granderson, CF
3. Teixeira, 1B
4. Cano, 2B
5. Rodriguez, 3B
6. Montero, DH
7. Gardner, LF
8. Jeter, SS
9. Martin, C
1. Jeter, SS
2. Swisher, RF
3. Granderson, CF
4. Teixeira, 1B
5. Cano, 2B
6. Rodriguez, DH
7. Montero, C
8. Gardner, LF
9. Nunez, 3B
With this lineup, we have the three best hitters against LHP (Jeter, Swisher, Teixeira) in the three most important spots, while Cano and Granderson are still up near the top, with Cano in the more important position. It’s odd to have A-Rod so low, but his struggles vs. lefties haven’t let up. There’s only one singles hitter (who’s probably not that great) in back of Gardner, but I think this lineup wouldn’t necessarily need Gardner’s steals. The 2012 Yankees should destroy LHP.
At the end of all this, what do we know? We know that no matter how you arrange the prospective Yankee lineup, it’s going to freaking mash. There are literally too many ways to organize these 9 players. Regardless of how you do it, you’re probably going to end up with a pretty high scoring team. Isn’t that just awesome?
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TagsA.J. Burnett Alex Rodriguez Andy Pettitte Austin Romine Baltimore Orioles Bartolo Colon Boston Red Sox Brett Gardner Brian Cashman Bullpen CC Sabathia Chien-Ming Wang Cliff Lee Curtis Granderson David Robertson Dellin Betances Derek Jeter Francisco Cervelli Freddy Garcia Game Recap Hiroki Kuroda Ivan Nova Javier Vazquez Jesus Montero Joba Chamberlain Joe Girardi Johnny Damon Jorge Posada Manny Banuelos Mariano Rivera Mark Teixeira Melky Cabrera Michael Pineda New York New York Yankees Nick Johnson Nick Swisher Phil Hughes Prospects Rafael Soriano Red Sox Robinson Cano Russell Martin Tampa Bay Rays Yankees