Before I give you my thoughts, here it is:
I knew skipper Joe Girardi couldn’t help himself penciling in Brett Gardner at the top of the batting order.
In my opinion, this move is a mistake because it hampers one of Gardner’s biggest strength.
Gardner can read pitches tremendously well. He can run up the pitch counts and draw walks due to this patience but he does it better when hitting at the bottom of the order.
When looking at Gardner’s career batting splits, it is clear he strikes out slightly more and draws less walks when batting in the leadoff spot.
All stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com
I was hoping Girardi would use Ichiro Suzuki at the top, and not Gardner.
But I know that whenever the Yankees are determined about a player’s position, like how they have been about Gardner batting leadoff, they tend to overlook facts. Once Girardi and GM Brian Cashman deem a player’s future role their stubbornness always gets the better of them.
It was clear after Robertson’s first failed save that he was not ready to be a closer. But the Yankees have envisioned him there so they continued to put Robertson in the ninth inning. All while having a weapon like Rafael Soriano just sitting in the dugout.
The switch was eventually made after a week of watching Robertson get worse, but at the time I was afraid another Sergio Mitre situation could be unfolding.
What is confusing to me is that Ichiro is one of the most successful leadoff hitters ever, so why would Girardi not have him leadoff until Derek Jeter returns?
Now if you are wondering why I am making a big deal about Gardner’s spot when the stats are not very far apart wouldn’t surprise me.
Normally I would agree but not the way the Yankees look heading into this season.
The Yankees have been ravaged by injuries, which exposed their lack of depth due to an unproductive off-season. In turn things like one extra walk really matter and could be the difference maker.
Bottom line is the Yankees do not have the luxury of being good enough to let the little things slip by this season.
My advice is to brace yourselves.