First guessing: Lance Berkman batting sixth against a lefty?
I briefly made note of this already in posting the Yankees’ lineup, but it’s worth expanding on.
Mark Teixeira’s hamstring injury has forced manager Joe Girardi to make some lineup changes for Game 5 of the ALCS today and he has Lance Berkman playing first base and batting sixth against left-hander C.J. Wilson.
Berkman is one of the best, most underrated hitters of this era and he’s a switch-hitter who’s had plenty of success against left-handed pitching throughout his career. However, his production versus lefties has fallen off a cliff after age 30 and includes a .171 batting average this season.
Now, the sample size this season is only 82 at-bats, so those numbers may not be particularly meaningful. However, he also hit just .237 versus lefties from 2007-2009. Add it all up and in more than 500 total plate appearances spread over the past four seasons Berkman has hit a combined .225 with a .370 slugging percentage against southpaws.
By questioning his place in the lineup I’ve probably guaranteed that Berkman will go 5-for-5 with a pair of homers off Wilson, but before the game begins I’ll go ahead and suggest that Girardi is making a mistake by batting him so high in the lineup (and perhaps even by having him in the lineup at all).