The New York Yankees have dished out some the offseason’s biggest contracts as they try to reclaim the American League East crown (and the American League crown and the World Series Crown – one step at a time, I guess). They’ve loaded their lineup with left-handed sluggers like Brian McCann and proven postseason performers like Carlos Beltran, and they aren’t finished yet as attention now turns to the starting rotation.
Brian Cashman still has work to do in the Bronx before Opening Day, but now that names have moved from lists of potential targets to the actual roster, the Yankees’ lineup is beginning to take shape.
I imagine (and I don’t think I’m alone) that Jacoby Ellsbury will lead off with Derek Jeter batting second and Brett Gardner batting ninth — though that could be problematic. With the departure of Robinson Cano, however, it is still unclear who is going to bat third. The Bombers have a revamped offense with several players who could be legitimate three-hitters, but in a boom-or-bust lineup you could even make the case for Ellsbury to bat third.
Here are the Yankees’ most likely three-hitter candidates with their career statistics in the No. 3 hole:
Mark Teixeira: 839 games, 3243 at bats, .286/.378/.544, 201 home runs, 653 RBI
Teixeira was the Yankees’ three-hitter when they won the World Series in 2009. Since that year, his home run and RBI totals have been constant though his batting average and slugging percentage have plummeted. Tex typically gets off to slow starts every year. Combined with the fact that he’s coming off an injury that limited him to 15 games in 2013, he may be slotted lower in the lineup.
Carlos Beltran: 985 games, 3807 at bats, .279/.355/.479, 177 home runs, 654 RBI
Beltran has been a three-hitter for majority of his career and, like Teixeira, has the advantage of being a switch-hitter. He’s going to be 37-years-old next April, however, which makes you wonder how much longer he’ll be able to produce at such a high level. Last year, he primarily batted second for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Brian McCann: 67 games, 328 at bats, .216/.296/.409, 17 home runs, 43 RBI.
McCann is a tempting choice for the No. 3 hole because of the short porch in right, but in reality he’s more of a middle-of-the-order guy. He had 204 at bats batting third in 2011, 94 in 2012 and six in 2013. In his career, McCann has had the most at bats batting fourth and fifth and has the highest batting average hitting sixth (.294).
Alfonso Soriano: 162 games, 671 at bats, .259/.309/.449, 30 home runs, 94 RBI
In his career, Soriano has actually put up his biggest numbers out of the leadoff spot. However, he hasn’t been full time leadoff hitter since 2009, and most of that production came when he first came up with the Yankees.
Soriano has been a four-hitter for the past two years. He had tremendous success in the clean up spot last year after being acquired from the Chicago Cubs. With the Yankees’ latest additions, however, Soriano will likely be moved down in the lineup.
Alex Rodriguez: 797 games, 3065 at bats, .303/.396/.588, 233 home runs, 618 RBI
Rodriguez has primarily been a four-hitter in his career. Even if he’s allowed to play next year there’s no way he’s batting third in this lineup.