Yankees’ left fielder Brett Gardner has made his career out of adding his on-base ability and speed to the number nine spot in the team’s lineup, but that might not be the case in 2014.
On Saturday, when the Yankees got set to take the field for the final time this spring, Gardner was scheduled to bat seventh in a lineup that featured all of the teams regulars. Here’s how the lineup looked:
2. Derek Jeter
4. Brian McCann
7. Brett Gardner
One reason for this change may be that the team wants to utilize Gardner more than Roberts or Johnson. It’s true that Johnson can produce more power and Roberts has had a great offensive career, but at this point in time, Gardner is a more valuable offensive player. Roberts hit .249/.312/.392 in 77 games last season while Johnson hit .235/.305/.410 in 118 games. Gardner outperformed them both, hitting .273/.344/.416 in 145 games.
Another reason might be Gardner being on base ahead of Roberts and Johnson may provide them with more RBI opportunities. If he is to steal second base, Roberts or Johnson would have a better chance at driving him in. Batting seventh would also provide Gardner with more freedom to run as he pleases. Roberts and Johnson aren’t among the Yankees better hitters and Gardner won’t have to worry as much about robbing hitters of RBI opportunities as opposed to when the next two hitters are Ellsbury and Jeter.
Gardner will likely also hit second on Derek Jeter’s off days.