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212SportsWriterMike
07-23-2011, 05:36
Despite Joe Girardi's proclamations that Derek Jeter would remain the leadoff hitter for the Yankees, apparently the Yankees' skipper has changed his mind on the subject. Last night, it was Brett Gardner, not Derek Jeter, who hit leadoff in Girardi's lineup.

The Yankees were 14-4 without their Captain in the lineup during his last DL stint. With a different combination of hitters at the top of the lineup, the Yankees got an over .400 OBP from the firs two spots in the order. It was the single best stretch of 2011 in terms of the Yankees driving in runs with hits, and not homers.

Derek Jeter's struggles have been plenty since recording his 3,000th career hit with a home run. Common thought has always been that Jeter is not your prototype leadoff hitter while Gardner fits that description better. It's tough to force a guy into a role that he wasn't made for, and I think that's the case with Jeter now.

Brett Gardner has been on a resurgence of late, erasing a horrid April for the young Yankee outfielder. Gardner's average has slowly climbed towards .300, hovering right around .290. He has hit almost .500 since the All-Star break and has earned another chance to hit leadoff. With his speed, he is certainly the type of player that fits the leadoff role better than Jeter does.

First experiment successful, as the Yankees blew out the A's last night at the stadium, 17-7. Although Gardner struggled going 1 for 5, Jeter thrived in his best game since getting his 3,000th hit. Jeter went 2 for 3 with a walk, and drove in 3 RBIs on the night. It seems Jeter slipped into his new but old role as the Bombers two-hitter in the lineup without a problem.

It may not be the last time we see Jeter at leadoff this year, considering Joe Girardi likes to shuffle the lineup every now and then. But it certainly is the beginning of the end for Jeter at the top of the order. If Jeter can build off of this, moving him down one slot in the order may turn out to be the best thing for him and the Yankees.

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