At this point, it seems a matter of time before Nick Johnson replaces Hideki Matsui as the Yankees designated hitter. The natural question has become, who replaces Matsui as the No. 5 hitter.
To me, Johnson is perfect in the No. 2 spot. In the past 24 hours, his on-base percentage has become the stuff of legend — he once drew a walk while playing first base — and I don’t buy the idea that he’s too slow. Actually, I completely buy that he’s slow, I just don’t buy that it matters. The Yankees need a guy to simply get on base in front of Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez. The ability to steal a bag is nice, but not remotely essential. Johnny Damon stole only 12 this season.
So, Johnson bats second, and the No. 5 spot goes to…
Curtis Granderson. That’s my pick. The guy hit 30 home runs last year while playing half of his games in Detroit. He had 71 RBI while getting most of his starts as a lead-off hitter counting on Adam Everett, Gerald Laird and Ramon Santiago to get on base ahead of him. His career slugging percentage is .484.
Matsui’s is .482.
An added bonus of Granderson batting fifth is that he can steal a base. That might matter when he’s hitting ahead of Jorge Posada, who has twice led the American League in double plays grounded into, and Robinson Cano, who led the Yankees in GIDP this year.