Yankees Manager Joe Girardi has been at the center of questionable batting order changes before. In fact, just last season Girardi made the call to switch Johnny Damon and Derek Jeter in the batting order. Many questioned his sanity. In the end, he looked like a genius.
In 2010 Girardi is back at it again, moving Robinson Cano into the 5th spot of the lineup. Cano has limited experience in the 5th spot, but most of that experience came in 2009. Cano handled the position just fine, however his numbers elsewhere in the lineup were even better. It's fair to question this move, but, to Girardi's credit he has been right in the past.
ROBINSON CANO BY BATTING ORDER POSITION
Cano has matured at the plate over his career to a point where he now hits lefties and righties equally well (.300 AVG vs. LHP and .309 AVG vs. RHP). And unless you get ahead in the count, you are walking a fine line. Like most hitters, when Cano is ahead in the count he thrives to the tune of a .321 career average and a .426 OBP. The only two areas Cano consistently struggles in are drawing walks and hitting with RISP. Hitting behind Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, Cano should see plenty of pitches to hit. He should also see plenty of at bats with RISP. The key for Cano will be his ability to discipline himself at the plate.
ROBINSON CANO WITH RISP
According to Inside Edge, Cano chases pitches early in the count 26 percent of the time, while the league average is 19 percent. With RISP, Cano has quality at-bats just 38 percent of the time (the league average is 46 percent). Yet in close and late-game situations, Cano has quality at-bats 50 percent of the time, ahead of the 43 percent league average.
And in what may be one of the strangest statistics, Cano chases pitches with 2 strikes in the count 46 percent of the time (the league average is 38 percent) but strikes out just 25 percent of the time in these situations (14 percent swinging, 11 percent looking). This is a true testament to his ability to put the bat on the ball in all counts.
All in all, it should be interesting to see how Cano answers his manager's call of duty in 2010.