The New York Yankees have discussed batting Jacoby Ellsbury lower in the order. But batting Ellsbury ninth would defeat the purpose.
The New York Yankees have decided to break up Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner in their starting lineup. Now the question is: who goes where? Should the Yankees slot Jacoby Ellsbury at the top of the order because he’s the “$153 Million man”? Or should the Yankees go with their homegrown player and keep Gardner as the leadoff hitter?
While Joe Girardi has said he was planning on discussing the leadoff situation with his coaching staff, it’s a no-brainer that the leadoff hitter should be Gardner. Gardner sees the most pitches per at-bat and had a higher OBP than Ellsbury in 2016 (.351 vs. .330).
Here’s Girardi discussing it last season, as well:
If the Yankees decide to bat Gardner in the leadoff spot, then where would they bat Ellsbury?
On Sunday, New York Post columnist Joel Sherman gave his take on what the Yankees should do with Ellsbury. His suggestion was simple: bat Ellsbury ninth and move catcher Gary Sanchez to the two-hole.
Overall, his suggestion made sense. If Ellsbury can’t bat in the two-hole, he would have to be dropped in the order. Not to mention placing Gary Sanchez second in the batting order gives the Yankees a better chance at driving in an early run if Gardner can put himself in scoring position.
However, batting Ellsbury ninth defeats the purpose of trying to break up Gardner and Ellsbury. Girardi wanted to break up the two speedsters because they both bat left-handed. If Ellsbury leads off an inning, the second batter would be Gardner, which recreates the left-lefty scenario. Also if the opposing team‘s starter is right handed, they could easily grab a left-handed reliever from the pen to retire them.
So, if the Yankees won’t bat Ellsbury second or ninth, where should they put him?
The ideal spot to bat Ellsbury would be seventh or eighth in the lineup. That way Girardi can prevent a lefty-lefty scenario and slot a right-handed hitter in between.
What might stop the Yankees from dropping Ellsbury to the bottom of the order is his $153 Million contract and Ellsbury saying his piece to Girardi.
However, if the Yankees can look past his contract and focus on productive numbers, they will see that it is in their best interest to put Gardner at the top and move Ellsbury to the bottom.