At this point in the offseason, the roster is virtually completed and the lineups are basically arranged.
The addition of Nick Johnson not only sealed the fate of Johnny Damon, but also gave the Yankees an on-base machine to bat behind Derek Jeter and ahead of Mark Teixeira. With the first four hitters in the lineup set and the axiomatic fact that Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner will be the respective eighth and ninth hitters; that leaves Robinson Cano, Jorge Posada and Curtis Granderson as the candidates to hit behind Alex Rodriguez in the five-hole.
You could pretty much eliminate Posada from the competition as well; he’s spent more time batting sixth in the past four seasons than anywhere else in the order. That leaves Granderson and Cano as the logical options to bat in the fifth-spot. Both are left-handed and would create balance behind the right-handed Rodriguez and both have enough offensive potential to protect the cleanup hitter.
There are several things to consider when selecting a hitter for the five-slot. First, they need to posses the talent to drive runners home with a single, double, homer or sacrifice fly. That means power is a must for the hitter, and the ability to make solid contact. On that same hand, their presence must also force pitchers to not walk the cleanup hitter. Both Cano and Granderson have the power to protect the cleanup hitter. Cano just makes more contact while Granderson is faster. So which one would be the ideal no. 5 hitter for the 2010 Yankees? Curtis Granderson.
Cano does have more experience out of the five-hole. In 278 at-bats, Cano posted a .299/.321/.453 line. Granderson has a .344 batting average in that spot, but in a paltry 64 at-bats. However, Granderson grounds into less double plays than Cano. In 2009 alone, Cano had 22 GDiPs. In his entire career, Granderson has only had 18. Now, where each hitter sits in the batting order plays a part with those numbers, but Granderson’s superior speed helps him avoid double plays. Granderson also has better numbers with runners on base. Both hitters would do a fine job in the fifth slot, but Granderson’s power/speed combination makes him the smart choice.
The addition of Johnson and Granderson should give the Yankees one of the strongest lineups in the American League. With extra speed and power behind Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees should enjoy an energetic and strong offensive team.
(photo cred/NY Daily News)