I’ve seen it mentioned in the media quite a bit recently since the Yankees signed Johnny Damon – and, the topic even came up at the Damon press conference at the Stadium – about how Robinson Cano now will be batting ninth in the Yankees 2006 line-up. And, it makes no sense to me – at all.
First off, right now, Cano shows more promise with the bat than Posada or Williams. And, whoever the Yankees have batting sixth next year deserves some protection in the line-up (rather than just being walked with runners on to set up a DP with Posada and Williams likely to supply it).
In fact, if I were filling out the Yankees line-up, I would go with this order:
9. Some DH
With this set-up, you have L-R-L-R-L-R-L and then a switch-hitter in the 8-hole (and maybe another in the 9th slot).
This eliminates the chance for someone to come in with a left-handed specialist (or a righty who has issues with lefties) late in the game and leave him in for consecutive batters.
Further, with Jason directly behind Damon and Jeter, there’s going to be many times where teams cannot use the big shift on Giambi – because if they do, then the runners will just double steal and create all kinds of havoc with no one covering third base.
Now, the only downside to this line-up is having Sheffield bat sixth – because that might cost him some ABs over the course of the year. But, let’s face it – someone out of Giambi, A-Rod, Sheffield and Matsui is going to have to bat sixth. And, whatever the choice, it’s always going to be a situation of a great batter not getting as many ABs as he would batting higher in the order.
Now, some might like Cano batting ninth because of the “second lead-off hitter theory” (where the thinking is that, once the order starts cranking, it’s like having Cano leading off in front of Damon and Jeter). But, think of the type of hitter that Cano is – he’s not an “on-base” guy. He’s a “put the ball in play” batter – with the hope to hit a liner somewhere on the field in a gap.
This is the guy that you want with runners on – which he will see with the “Big Six” batting in front of him (if Cano does bats seventh).
If Cano bats 9th, he’s going to see lots of ABs where he’s leading off with no outs or batting with 2 outs – just wait and see. I would much rather see him coming up with runners on, less than two outs, and making contact (and seeing what happens).
In fact, I would guess now that the difference of Cano batting 7th (over 9th) could mean at least one run a game for the Yankees.
Did you know that, from 2002 through 2005, Posada and Williams were among the the top batters in the A.L. for most “grounded into a DP” (GIDP)? Yes, here’s the top five in the A.L. for that period (with their total GIDP shown):
1 Miguel Tejada 83
2 Paul Konerko 77
3 Bernie Williams 75
4 Manny Ramirez 72
5 Jorge Posada 68
I don’t know Konerko’s story. I think it’s just that he’s a slow right-handed batter. But, I know that Miggy and Manny – great RBI men that they are – just don’t run out grounders and that possibly hurts them here. Bernie and Jorge run hard – it’s just that they still hit into too many GIDP.
Drilling down on this GIDP-thing some more, Williams and Posada are the far-away leaders in GIDP (since 2002) of all switch-hitting (SH) batters. No left-handed batter or fellow SH is close to them. All the other leaders in GIDP over the last 4 years are right-handed batters. Why is this important? Think about it. Most of Posada and Williams ABs come left-handed – and they’re still GIDP monsters.
If one of these guys bats seventh for the Yankees in 2006 – over Cano – they’re going to end rallies on a regular basis faster than a loud and juicy fart emitted during a kiss on a first date kills the chance for an end-of-the-evening “come in for a cup of coffee.”
I really hope someone on Torre’s staff is thinking and suggests that Cano should bat 7th (and not 9th).