What I’m about to set forward is nothing groundbreaking, but something certainly overdue: Derek Jeter needs hit in the bottom of the lineup. It’s understandable that he’s had the opportunity to remain in his traditional lineup spot given his stature, but after more than 200 trips to the plate, it’s time for a change. It’s simply been too long since the Captain has been a threat in the batter’s box.
The second hitter in the lineup should be the team’s best hitter. Even if you lean toward more traditional lineup construction, there’s really no case to keep Jeter there. He’s not getting on base (.317 OBP) or hitting for any pop (.306 SLG). Only Alfonso Soriano has a worse wRC+ for the Yankees. Someone performing like this shouldn’t be getting as many plate appearances as a two-hitter is afforded.
Hitting Jeter in the bottom third wouldn’t be a panacea, of course. The Yankees are the 9th worst offensive team in the majors, and currently boast four players in the bottom thirty of baseball in terms of wRC+ (Jeter, Soriano, Brian McCann, and Brian Roberts). So, there aren’t exactly a multitude of choices to replace Jeter in the two-hole.
Batting order doesn’t necessarily make a huge difference in the long run, but when there’s such an obvious flaw in the lineup, it’s foolish hope it will resolve itself. Jeter is going to be forty this month, so the odds are heavily against him. Circling back to the rest of the lineup’s issues, who would be better suited to hit second? I can’t believe I’m saying this after what I wrote in the Spring, but perhaps Yangervis Solarte has earned a chance. Carlos Beltran makes sense too. Even stacking Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner at the top might work. At this point, it can’t really get much worse.
To be fair, it’s easy for me to say that Joe Girardi should just bat Jeter down in the order. I can’t imagine what it would be like to broach that topic with the Captain during his final season. Jeter has too much pride to admit he’s over the hill, and likely believes he’ll turn it around soon. However, as Girardi stated, he’s not managing a farewell tour. It’s time for him to follow through on that proclamation.
Statistics via Fangraphs
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