Why Yankees Should Hit Gardner Leadoff, Not Jeter

Derek Jeter, Brett Gardner, New York YankeesIt is time for Derek Jeter, one of the greatest players ever to wear pinstripes, to step down from the leadoff spot and return to the two hole to make room for the up and coming outfielder Brett Gardner.

There are no words to describe how incredible Jeter is, but every player reaches the point where they have peaked, the decline has possibly began, and a younger player comes along who is just better for the team looking solely at wins and losses. That player, unfortunately for Jeter, is Gardner.

The function of a leadoff hitter is to get on base and into scoring position for the center of the lineup to hopefully drive in. Looking at last year’s numbers, Gardner is the best option to lead off. Comparing the two, Gardner is the better player in nearly every major category that is vital to the ideal leadoff hitter. Keep in mind that Jeter had nearly 200 more at-bats than Gardner in 2010.

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2010 ABs Runs Hits Walks SBs BA OBP SLG
Derek Jeter 663 111 179 63 18 .270 .340 .370
Brett Gardner 477 97 132 79 47 .277 .383 .379

The 26-year old South Carolina native is clearly the better candidate for the leadoff spot. His type of play is tailor-made to be leading off. A high on-base percentage, ability to draw a lot of walks, work the count and the capability to steal 50+ bases are why Gardner is so perfect to be a leadoff hitter. In his 25 games in the leadoff spot in 2010, Gardner had 12 stolen bases, a .290 average and a .412 on-base percentage. If Gardner kept that going throughout the year, he would have had 78 stolen bases, a figure that would blow those of the Red Sox newly inked left fielder, Carl Crawford, out of the water.

It is a hard fact to take, but Jeter is not the best man for the job anymore. He should return to the two hole where he has enjoyed a great deal of success over his future hall-of-fame career where he will hopefully rebound from an underwhelming 2010 campaign. It is a tough move to make but it is something that is best for the team. If given a chance, Gardner could become one of the premiere leadoff hitters in the game.

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7 Responses to Why Yankees Should Hit Gardner Leadoff, Not Jeter

  1. JoeYankeeFan says:

    this is so foolish

    how in the world do u not bat a on base machine/ speed demon 1st ??

    Someone has to grow a pair an tell Jeter he's going down to the 8th or 9th spot.

    Ar we gonna still let him lead off when he's 40 to ??

    gimme a break

    If anything they should flip-flop depending on if it's a righty or lefty starting.

    Jeter still hits LHP very well while Brett is the exact opposite hitting RHP very well.

    IF Jeter continues to bat #1 or #2 against RHP this season Girardi should lose his job.

    • JoeYankeeFan says:

      Gardner saw more pitches then anyone in MLB last year but do u know who was #2 ???

      Nick Swisher

      Doesn't sound like such a bad idea having these guys bat #1 and #2 every night.

      Opposing starters will have thrown 14-15 pitches before they even record an out.

  2. Bronx Knight says:

    I have been saying this repeatedly since last year: Gardner 1, Jeter 2. The only argument you could make for leading off Jeter is that his career OBP of .385 is not only higher than Gardner's career OBP of .358, but also higher than Gardner's 2010 career-high number of .383.

    Having said that, although I think Jeter is clearly likely to return to form in 2011, I doubt that his OBP will come back up to his career norm. Even assuming that Jeter's OBP may be slightly higher than Gardner's (which I doubt), Gardner's blinding speed — FASTER than Crawford — makes him the obvious number one.

    Jeter hit in the #2 hole almost his entire career. There is no shame in going back to that spot.

    As for Jeter v. Swish in the #2 hole, I like Jeter there better because he also has good speed, while Swisher, with a CAREER total of 8 stolen bases, runs like a dying elephant.

    Everyone talks about how Jeter grounds into too many double plays, but his career average is 17 GDP's per season. (He had 22 last year, but that was an aberration.) Swish's is 14, only three less. I'll trade the three extra double-plays for the 15 to 20 extra stolen bases which Jeter will give at #2. Also, although Swisher has an amazing eye and draws tons of walks, he's really not such a great hitter, so Jeet's career OBP is .30 points higher than Swisher's.

    I see the lineup like this:

    Against righties:

    1. Gardner

    2. Jeet

    3. Cano

    4. A-Rod

    5. Teixeira

    6. Swisher

    7. Posada

    8. Martin/Montero

    9. Granderson

    Against lefties:

    1. Jeet

    2. Swish

    3. Cano

    4. A-Rod

    5. Teixeira

    6. Posada

    7. A. Jones

    8. Martin/Montero

    9. Granderson

  3. Mike S. says:

    Interesting, and don't know if it's a misprint, but you are automatically benching Gardner vs. lefties, even though Gardner's career split against lefties is .248 vs. Granderson's .215? Just saying.

  4. Don N says:

    Let's not forget that Jeter was moved up to the number one slot because of the incredibly high number of times he grounded into to double plays with the lead off hitter on……

  5. Alex Taffet says:

    The problem with this analysis though is that it uses only 2010 stats as a basis, rather than a projecting 2011 stats. It is almost undeniable that 2010 Brett Garnder makes a better leadoff hitter than 2010 Derek Jeter, but there is much more to it than that. Is Brett Gardner's 2010 breakout real? Is Derek Jeter's one off year a true decline? I am not arguing against your overall point that Brett Gardner makes a better leadoff hitter, just that the way you went about proving it is off.

    You cite 25 games worth of statistics with Brett Gardner as a leadoff hitter. Why? It is such a small sample, and in no way as indicative of future success in that spot as is his career statistics.