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Jeter leading off? It makes sense

Tweet [1]

[2] [3]The Yankees are “toying around” with the idea of hitting Derek Jeter first and Johnny Damon second according to Joe Girardi. It’s safe to say this will carry into the season. Teams don’t toy around with lineups on March 26, they finalize them.

Let’s look at this dispassionately.

Derek Jeter’s career’s OBP: .385

Johnny Damon’s career OBP: .354

Derek Jeter GIDP the last two years: 45

Johnny Damon GIDP in last two years: 9

So Jeter should get on base more often and have fewer opportunities to ground into a double play. This would seem to make sense.

David Pinto, who’s much smarter than I am, figured out [4] that the new look would give the Yankees three more runs a year. If that results in one more victory, it was worth it.

Beyond the numbers, this move reflects what we all know to be true: Jeter has become more of a singles hitter. He had 39 extra-base hits last season. His previous seasons:

2007: 55
2006: 56
2005: 49
2004: 68

But Jeter still can work a count. His walk numbers haven’t dipped at the same rate. He’s not a base-stealer but he remains a good base-runner.

Damon had one of the best seasons of his career last season. He’s also in the walk year of his contract, which should provide plenty of incentive.

Far too much is made about lineups and this change is far more subtle than radical. But it makes good sense.

It also seems that this decision is related to another. Brett Gardner is almost certainly the center fielder and will hit ninth. Hitting Jeter first separates two left-handed hitters in Gardner and Damon. Girardi considers matchups critical to his lineup decisions and tries his best to make decisions tougher on the opposing manager.

So now the lineup is:

Jeter R
Damon L
Teixeira S
Matsui L
Posada S
Cano L
Nady R
Ransom R
Gardner L

What do you think?