The New York Yankees have added three huge offensive weapons this offseason in Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran. McCann, in particular, is expected to revitalize a lineup that was anemic by the end of last year and provide power as a potential three-hitter. He may very well fulfill those offensive aspirations, but he won’t be doing it out of the three-hole. McCann has never been a three hitter – and he’s not going to start this year.
In his career, McCann has only played 67 games as the three-hitter and in those games he has not performed well. In 328 at bats, he has hit .216/.296/.409 with 17 home runs and 43 RBIs. Alfonso Soriano has better numbers (162 games, 671 at bats, .259/.309/.449, 30 home runs, 94 RBIs).
Though McCann is a tempting choice to bat third because of Yankee Stadium’s short porch in right, in reality he is more of a middle-of-the-order guy. In his career, he has had the most at bats hitting fourth and fifth, and has the highest batting average hitting sixth (.294).
McCann had 204 at bats in the three-hole in 2011, 94 in 2012 and six in 2013. I understand he was dropped in the Atlanta Braves’ lineup because of Freddie Freeman, but like the Braves, the Yankees have a better option to bat third.
Beltran has far more experience as a three-hitter and has been much more successful: 985 games, 3807 at bats, .279/.355/.479, 177 home runs, 654 RBIs. He has batted third for majority of his career and has the advantage of being a switch hitter. He will be 37-years old next April which has led many to question his ability to stay healthy. Nevertheless, he’s not as fragile as many believe him to be. Over the last three seasons he’s averaged 145 games a year. Plus, right field in Yankees Stadium is smaller than most ballparks and will not be as physically demanding to cover.
McCann is a phenomenal hitter and his left-handed swing is built for Yankee Stadium. He’ll no doubt drive in runs for the Yankees but will probably do so batting fourth, fifth or sixth.