Joe Girardi has maintained all spring that he plans to keep Derek Jeter in the leadoff spot, something he’s done in each game the captain has played thus far.
Yet there continues to be a push from some inside the organization for Brett Gardner to move to the top of the lineup, a change that would likely shift Jeter back to his familiar No. 2 spot.
“The lineup is best with Gardner leading off,” one source said. “Don’t be surprised if it winds up that way.”
The thing about this is that changes in the lineup are more window dressing than anything else. No matter how the lineup is laid out it is not going to make a difference in more than two games throughout a full season.
Still there is a small difference and even one game can mean making or missing the playoffs. If Jeter is going to struggle again in 2011 then having him at the top of the lineup would hurt the Yankees because it means more at bats for him. Gardner is also a high-OBP guy so having him get more at bats means more baserunners and everyone knows that Gardner is not a typical baserunner.
The thing is though, even if Jeter is moved out of the leadoff spot, he’s not going to drop to 9th in the order. More likely if Gardner gets to be leadoff than Jeter will just drop down to no. 2. The biggest difference in the results is based on how many at bats they get and the difference in the amount of at bats between the first and second hitters is minimal.
What I’m getting at is that as long as Gardner is at the top of the order it doesn’t matter too much if he’s no. 1 or no. 2. Just get him to the top of the lineup if Jeter’s ego is too fragile to move down. A lineup that starts with Jeter, Gardner is probably about as good as one that goes Gardner, Jeter. Realistically it could potentially be even better if it is Jeter, Gardner as Jeet grounds into a ton of double plays (he ranks 4th in MLB in GDP over the past three years). So having Jeter in front of Gardner is one less at bat per game, or 162 per year, where he can’t ground into a double play.
What do you think? Should Jeter bat leadoff? Or should it be Gardner or somebody else even?