With the Boston Red Sox claiming first place in the American League East, any sign of Yankee struggles will be magnified and scrutinized.
Although the Yankees are currently third in baseball in runs scored, their average is twelfth. They score more runs with fewer at bats because of their overwhelming amount of home runs and impressive .446 slugging percentage—the best in baseball.
A long-time presence in the two slot, Derek Jeter has found new life at the lead-off position in recent seasons. The issue with Jeter is that his average is down, and he still only has two home runs courtesy of his May 8 performance against the Texas Rangers.
In the second slot, however, Jeter tends to hit into a lot of double plays. The lack of power forces Jeter to avoid the middle of the lineup, but his OBP is only .319.
Although it may never happen because of Jeter's status as captain and his importance as the face of the Yankees, Brett Gardner's current OBP is slightly better, with higher slugging, and a similar average, thus he could be a worthy replacement for the lead-off spot. At the very least, he could take the role more frequently.
Gardner has made 47 plate appearances in the first slot in the lineup this season. His speed is impressive, as is his ability to score runs, particularly for someone who frequents the bottom of the lineup.
Although Swisher has been a disappointment this season, his performance last night against the Seattle Mariners—hitting a home run to accompany his two walks—is a good sign.
Despite his inability to hit for average, sporting just a .210 at the moment , his great eye at the plate and ability to get on base even when he is slumping is impressive and particularly important because the Yankees hit for power.
Jorge Posada's inability to hit for average this season has been very surprising. No longer having to deal with the toll of playing catcher, the DH role was meant for players exactly like Posada.
Unfortunately, his struggles at the plate and inability to hit against left-handed pitching leads me to believe that it is more important to rest other players like Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez via a day at DH.
The two and three slot combination of Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira has been carrying the Yankee lineup this season. Granderson is leading the Yankees in average (.282), home runs (16) and RBI (37).
Teixeira is right behind him with 15 homers and 36 RBI. Although he's only batting .258, his OBP leads the team at .370.
People like high batting averages, but one of the most overlooked statistics in baseball is OBP. Sure, Russell Martin is only batting .253, but his on base percentage is an astounding .363.
Particularly for a team that leads the league in home runs by far with 79—the next closest team is Texas with 60—getting on base needs to be stressed. Robinson Cano undoubtedly has an amazing bat, but his OBP is a lowly .316.