Going into Saturday's game with the Cleveland Indians, New York Yankee Derek Jeter is only nine hits away from 3,000 hits and baseball immortality.
Once a player reaches his 3,000th hit, he becomes a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame. Derek Jeter is without a doubt one of best Yankees' of all time, but is having him bat in the leadoff position the best move for the New York Yankees in their quest at another World Series title?
The 36-year-old shortstop is in his 16th season as a Yankee, his production is down and the Yankees find themselves two games out of first place and only a one-game lead in the Wild Card race. It is only June, but the Boston Red Sox are heating up and change might be necessary before it is too late.
Jeter is only batting .256 with two HR and 18 RBI. He also has an OPS .655 which is one of the worst of any leadoff hitter in all of baseball. He has seven stolen bases and has been caught twice, not exactly leadoff material.
The questions seems to be if not Jeter, than who should lead off? The New York Yankees actually have several options, but Manager Joe Girardi is committed to Jeter, and his team is suffering.
Robinson Cano would be a good fit for the leadoff spot and so would Brett Gardener. Cano is currently batting .281 with 12 home runs, 40 RBI and a .829 OPS. Much better than Jeter's numbers.
Gardener's numbers are about the same as Jeter's with a .266 BA and 15 RBI. His OPS is higher at .725, and he has more stolen bases with 13. Speed is very important at the top of the lineup, and Jeter is not the player he once was.
With the season-ending injury to relief pitcher Joba Chamberlain, the Yankees are going to have to score even more runs in order to keep leads. The Yankees need a jolt at the top of their lineup, and if they wish to make another run at the post season, Joe Girardi is going to have to make some very difficult decisions.
DH Jorge Posada is batting a career low .214 and LF Nick Swisher is also having a terrible season with just a .215 BA. Look for both of these players to be out of the starting lineup by the end of July if they can't turn it around.
Derek Jeter should reach hit number 3,000 during the middle of next week. Stay tuned to ESPN as they will cover most of his at-bats once he reaches hit 2,999.