The argument is no longer about whether or not Derek Jeter should be dropped in the order, Yangervis Solarte simply needs to be bumped up to the second slot. A non-roster invitee to spring training, Solarte has some of the best numbers on the team, except he’s not scoring as many runs as he could be.
Solarte’s .412 OBP and 22 RBI lead the New York Yankees and his .336 AVG was tied for the best in the American League heading into Wednesday’s slate of games. It’s also worth noting his OPS is sixth best in the AL and his OBP is third to only Jose Bautista and Shin-Soo Choo. However, he’s only scored 15 runs this year.
Moving to second in the batting order would still put Solarte in a position to drive in runs, but he would also be hitting in front of the team’s best part of the order. As a switch hitter, he could also create matchup problems for opposing managers late in a ball game.
Imagine this lineup:
Jacoby Ellsbury (L)
Carlos Beltran* (S)
Mark Teixeira (S)
Brian McCann (L)
Alfonso Soriano (R)
Brett Gardner (L)
Brian Roberts (S)
*May or may not need to spend time on the DL in the near future, due to a bone spur in his elbow.
A right-handed pitcher would have to face five straight lefty bats starting at the top of the order, an obvious advantage in Yankee Stadium. The trio of switch hitters would also make it a nightmare for opposing managers to try to get a favorable match-up with their bullpen.
Through 31 games, Jeter has a .262 AVG and .343 OBP, which are both good for fourth-best in the AL among shortstops. It’s a lot better than many may have predicted, but it’s not enough to keep his spot batting second. He’s been hitting their all season, but has only scored seven runs and driven in nine.
No one expected Solarte to be on the major league roster, let alone seize a starting job in the infield. Now, he should be hitting his way to the top of the order. It’s what is best for the Yankees and it’s no longer important that Jeter holds the lineup spot he’s had most of his career.