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First guessing: Lance Berkman batting sixth against a lefty?

Oct 20, 2010, 1:16 PM EDT

lance-berkman-yankees-sad

I briefly made note of this already in posting the Yankees’ lineup, but it’s worth expanding on.

Mark Teixeira’s hamstring injury has forced manager Joe Girardi to make some lineup changes for Game 5 of the ALCS today and he has Lance Berkman playing first base and batting sixth against left-hander C.J. Wilson.

Berkman is one of the best, most underrated hitters of this era and he’s a switch-hitter who’s had plenty of success against left-handed pitching throughout his career. However, his production versus lefties has fallen off a cliff after age 30 and includes a .171 batting average this season.

Now, the sample size this season is only 82 at-bats, so those numbers may not be particularly meaningful. However, he also hit just .237 versus lefties from 2007-2009. Add it all up and in more than 500 total plate appearances spread over the past four seasons Berkman has hit a combined .225 with a .370 slugging percentage against southpaws.

By questioning his place in the lineup I’ve probably guaranteed that Berkman will go 5-for-5 with a pair of homers off Wilson, but before the game begins I’ll go ahead and suggest that Girardi is making a mistake by batting him so high in the lineup (and perhaps even by having him in the lineup at all).

  1. BC - Oct 20, 2010 at 1:40 PM

    I don’t get it either. Berkman against lefties makes Curtis Granderson look like Albert Pujols.

  2. Adam - Oct 20, 2010 at 1:41 PM

    Who would you recommend they start instead? Austin Kearns? AJ Burnett in an attempt to redeem himself?

    • BC - Oct 20, 2010 at 1:47 PM

      I’d put Kearns in right and Swisher at 1B.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Oct 20, 2010 at 1:51 PM

        I agree with Aaron and with this as well. Berkman looked like an 8th grader when he was batting right last night. 3 pitches on the outside corner, and his swing looked horrible.

      • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Oct 20, 2010 at 1:57 PM

        I’d put Fiorentino at first.

  3. Mark Armour - Oct 20, 2010 at 1:57 PM

    Predicition: the Yankees will win if their hitters hit well, and will lose if they don’t. The lineup construction or the Berkman/Kearns selection will be 100% irrelevant.

    • lukehart80 - Oct 20, 2010 at 4:06 PM

      if the yankees’ success is dependent on their hitters hitting well, how is the choice of one of those hitters 100% irrelevant?

      do you just think (and you could possibly be right) that the success or failure of just the top of the order will determine the game’s outcome? or do you think berkman and kearns have identical success probabilities?

  4. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Oct 20, 2010 at 2:28 PM

    I’m with Mark on this one. Though I’m 100% rooting for the Rangers. I’m so sick of the Yankees being in it this deep every year. That’s what she said.

  5. suavityone - Oct 20, 2010 at 3:40 PM

    I like Berkman in the game. What is even more surprising is the lead off spot. I like gardner hitting leadoff, jeter second. It is time to shake things up in NY. Gardner is NY’s andrus, he gets on base, it makes things happen.

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