Monday, March 9, 2015
WHO'S THE NEW YANKEE LEADOFF HITTER?
It goes without saying, that the leadoff hitter is crucial to any team, and probably more so this year than in recent years. There is no more Derek Jeter in the top of the lineup. Now it is time to recreate the lineup and the Yankees have two candidates to choose from and it will be interesting to see who they choose....but that isn't the only challenge that stands in front of the Yankees.
Speed at the top of the lineup is key. I know I am anxious to see a more aggressive approach to base stealing this year. The Yankees have their own "double trouble" combination with Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury. The two of these guys together can really make a pitcher nervous and throw him off of his game if they execute it correctly. Just thinking about this has me excited, because I can already see it! I have a favorite candidate for the leadoff hitter, and I surprisingly have changed my tune recently.
I have always been a huge Brett Gardner advocate and I still am. Not only is he one of the best defenders in the game but I just think the guy has guys and I like that. I like his approach, granted the execution is not always there. I just appreciate a guy that isn't afraid to take a risk. I really thought that this year I would be his campaign manager for the leadoff position. I can't say I would be disappointed if he is the leadoff hitter come opening day, but I have changed my stance.
I am really liking the idea of Jacoby Ellsbury leading off. I am embracing change right now (surprisingly...it's been a long offseason). Yes the Yankees have experimented and they have used Gardner as the leadoff man in the past but Ellsbury has more experience in that role. I look back at the HUGE numbers Ellsbury put up in 2011 and he really proved that he could be the table setter. Is he the same player from 2011? No, but I can't deny that he has the potential. Maybe now is his time to shine. As much as I think Gardner is a risk taker, he did steal fewer bases than Ellsbury who deserves more credit for his 39 stolen bases last season.
Undeniably, having either one of these guys in the leadoff spot could be a huge secret weapon for the Yankees this year. Joe Girardi is happy with both of these guys batting 1-2 in the order, and that could be a pitcher's worst nightmare and that could lead to more runs scored. I like the possibilities!
My only question for Joe here is.....If he runs with the Ellsbury-Gardner duo how do you arrange the 8-9 hitters? Right now, the likely choices are Didi Gregorius and Stephen Drew and that would make four lefty hitters in a row. That is a tough pickle to be continued later......I think I have used enough brain power for one night. To be continued.
--Jeana Bellezza, BYB Senior Writer and Editor
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