Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner are both obvious locks for the roster. They’re both also locks to start on Opening Day and they’re slated to play side-by-side in the outfield. However, the main question concerning them isn’t where they’re going to play, it’s where they’re going to hit in the order. At first glance, Ellsbury and Gardner have almost the same numbers (Ellsbury: .271/.328/.419 in 2014, Gardner: .256/.327/.422 in 2014), they both have speed and they both play Gold Glove-caliber defense. Except for their contracts (Ellsbury: 7-yrs, $153 Million, Gardner: 4-yrs, $53 Million) they’re almost the same player. However, they both have their differences and the small differences could evaluate who is the better fit for the lead-off spot.
Jacoby Ellsbury: Ellsbury presents an interesting case for himself. He hits more singles, strikes out less than Gardner and he steals bases at an alarming rate. Ellsbury also has a tendency to swipe bags on the first or second pitch. He isn’t tentative, he just steals bags and easily gets himself into scoring position.
Brett Gardner: In certain aspects, Gardner is the opposite of Ellsbury: he strikes out more and while Gardner has the speed to steal second, Gardner’s extremely tentative. However, Gardner walks more than Ellsbury and has a bit more power, which could come in handy with the short porch at Yankee Stadium.
While it seems Ellsbury is the better candidate to hit at the top of the order, the Yankees could also use this approach: Since Gardner walks a tad more and Ellsbury is the better contact hitter, they could put Gardner at the top of the order and bat Ellsbury second. It’s one of the many ways to manufacture runs and judging from last season, there’s ..read more