New York Yankees Editorial: Chase Headley hitting well when batting second


After resigning with the New York Yankees for four-years and $52-million in the offseason, Chase Headley began 2015 very slow, hitting .230 in the seasons first six weeks.  That all changed on May 19th when Jacoby Ellsbury was sidelined with a right knee sprain.  With his leadoff hitter shelved, Yankees manager Joe Girardi has been forced to shuffle his lineup, moving Brett Gardner up a spot to bat leadoff, and putting Headley in the two-hole.

Headley, who had struggled hitting fifth, sixth, and seventh all season, has fared far better hitting second.  In 24 games in the two-hole, Headley is 28-for-101 (.277).  While hitting anywhere else in the lineup, Headley is a disappointing 35-for-151 (.232).

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What is the reason behind Headley’s success hitting second?  It simply could be due to seeing better pitches.  When batting near the bottom of the lineup, Headley’s protection comes in the form of Stephen Drew and Didi Gregorius, who happen to be the two worst everyday players on the club.  While hitting second, he is protected by Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, who have combined for 31 home runs and 84 RBI’s this season and are easily the two most feared hitters in the lineup.

Girardi isn’t sure what’s the cause of Headley’s recent success, but did add that Headley, who has struggled defensively as well, is a better player than his early season results indicated:

"It’s hard to say, but I would say it’s just him getting better.  I think it’s a product of him putting together good at-bats.  He got off to a slow start, and we know he’s a much better hitter than what he showed early on."

While Girardi could be right, it seems that all Yankees hitters have done well batting in front of Rodriguez and Teixeira, as through 67 games, entering Saturday’s contest with the Detroit Tigers, the team is a combined 80-for-281 (.285), a mark that is good for 7th in the MLB.  Outside of the two-hole, the lineup is a combined 502-for-2029 (.247).

Although Headley has succeeded hitting second, it is likely that he will be headed to the bottom of the order when Ellsbury returns.  The 1-2 punch of Ellsbury and Garnder is simply too good to split up, especially considering that with all of Headley’s success hitting second, Gardner is outperforming him in the spot, batting 33-for-113 (.292).  Regardless, it is a good sign that some of the Yankees struggling bats are starting to get going as the calendar rolls through June.

Next: New York Yankees Editorial: Too Quick To Make A-Rod Full Time DH?

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