Coming into this season a lot was made about Curtis Granderson versus left-handed pitchers to the point where the Yankees targeted a player to come off the bench specifically to platoon with him. Brett Gardner was another guy who there was some worry over against left-handed pitchers.
Now that the season is over, let’s take a look at how they did against the lefties:
Granderson vs. LHP: .234 BA, .292 OBP, .354 SLG, .647 OPS
Granderson vs. RHP: .253 BA, .340 OBP, .526 SLG, .866 OPS
Gardner vs. LHP: .252 BA, .373 OBP, .353 SLG, .725 OPS
Gardner vs. RHP: .287 BA, .387 OBP, .391 SLG, .778 OPS
That’s not a huge split for Gardner. There is only .053 points in OPS and just .014 points in OBP, so sitting him against lefties isn’t exactly paramount.
For Granderson there is obviously a much bigger gap: a .219 point difference in OPS and a .172 in slugging percentage.
The thing about Granderson is that his is a story about two seasons. When he came to the Yankees he dealt with injuries early and struggled for a long time. It wasn’t until August when he really made big adjustments and since that time he has been red hot.
On August 11 his average dropped to .239 and his OPS was down to .722. Most of that was because he had a .214 average and a .500 OPS against lefties. Since then though he has turned it around against lefties.
Granderson vs. LHP since Aug 11: .267 BA, .353 OBP, .467 SLG, .820 OPS
So in reality, if you are going to sit either Granderson or Gardner versus the lefty it probably should be Gardner.
Let’s take a look at the man they would use in his place though: Austin Kearns.
Kearns vs. LHP: .252 BA, .345 OBP, .395 SLG, .740 OPS
On top of that, his numbers of late have not been very good:
Kearns in Sept/Oct: .222 BA, .352 OBP, .222 SLG, .574 OPS
So the story of Kearns is that he’s only slightly better than Gardner has been against lefties, but has really struggled a lot over the last month. His on-base percentage hasn’t been terrible, but he has become an inconsistent single-hitter who strikes out a ton.
His job on this team is to hit lefties, but after you look at the numbers there is no way I would want Kearns starting against a lefty over Granderson and the playoffs might be too big of a spot to trust him over Gardner. Maybe late in the game against a reliever things might be different, but to start a game I’d rather see the Yankees go with Granderson and Gardner.
I’m not sure exactly what Joe Girardi will ultimately do, but I have a feeling that if the Yankees make it to the ALCS I might be asking if it is even worth it to carry Kearns on the roster.
What are your thoughts? Should the Yankees use Kearns against lefties? Maybe just late in the game?