Kevin Kernan of the NY Post suggested yesterday in a column that the Yankees should swap Mark Teixeira (3rd) and Robinson Cano (5th) in the Yankees batting order. However, is this a move that the Yankees should consider doing?


Kernan provides the basic statistical argument for swapping Cano and Teixeira. Cano is hitting .363, Teixeira, a career low, .220. Cano has 141 total bases. Teixeira has 89. Cano has been great in ‘pressure situations’, hitting .333. Teixeira is hitting .133. While Kernan’s argument definitely holds water, I’m not buying it as a long-term solution for the team.

Mark Teixeira has played 1,021 of his 1,112 games hitting in the 3rd, 4th, or 5th spot in the order. Teixeira has hit the best batting third, hitting .296 in 595 of those games. His sample size isn’t as large hitting in the fifth hole, but Teixiera has hit .263 in 121 career games.

Teixeira’s average power numbers have been identical in the two spots. Teixeira has blasted 129 home runs out of the three-hole (1/4.6 games) compared to 26 in the five-hole ( 1/4.6 games). However, Teixeira’s best production has been out of the third hole.

Robinson Cano has been great hitting in the fifth hole (.324) and seventh hole (.337), but has very little experience hitting high in the order. Cano has only played 79 of his 791 career games hitting in the top four of the batting order. Most of those games (70 of 79) have been played as the second hitter. Cano has only played in five games as the third hitter, hitting .368. His sample size is too small for consideration.

I’m not saying that Cano wouldn’t succeed as the third hitter, but historically, his success has come from lower in the order. Plus, the third hitter must have a completely different mindset from the fifth. The Yankees don’t exactly have four below-average talents hitting in front of him either.

Also, it’s not like the Yankees are struggling to score runs. Their 326 total team runs are the most in baseball. Their .283 team batting average is ten points higher than the second place Red Sox.

Finally, Joe Girardi is known for staying with his players and playing to their comfort levels. Both Teixeira and Cano seem comfortable with their current roles. However, it hasn’t always been that way. Joe Torre was criticized for hitting Alex Rodriguez eighth against the Indians in the 2007 ALDS. Rodriguez was amidst a horrible post-season slump (.163 career hitter), but was still the Yankees most-talented hitter. Rodriguez checked out of that series. I don’t think Girardi would make such a drastic move. I’m not implying that Teixeira would crumble if Girardi moved him down, but it’s just not necessary. The team isn’t struggling to win with him hitting third.

The Yankees have won with Teixeira hitting in the third hole and have Cano putting up MVP numbers protecting Alex Rodriguez. Don’t mess with Cano when he’s been playing like an MVP. Mark will be Mark, don’t worry. When both players are right at the same time (which will be very, very soon), watch out.