Since he joined the Yankees in 2004, the third baseman has struggled in the postseason. His poor play has continued in the 2012 playoffs, as he’s gone 1-9 in the first two games of New York’s American League Division Series with Baltimore.
After Rodriguez ended the Yankees Game Two loss to the Orioles with a strikeout, some fans have called for Joe Girardi to shake up the lineup. He’s hit in the No.3 spot in the lineup for both games in Baltimore, but there’s a chance he could be hitting somewhere else in Game Three.
“Right now I don’t have any plans of changing the lineup,” New York’s manager said after Game Two. “Obviously there’s a lot of thought process that goes into the whole series and into every move that we possibly might make down the road, but I haven’t done anything yet.”
Should Girardi move Rodriguez down in the lineup?
An MLB team’s three-hitter is usually one of the club’s best hitters. Rodriguez, however, has the worst average of any Yankee starter in this year’s playoffs. He returned from the disabled list on Sept.3, and has struggled since coming back. His power has declined tremendously, and he hasn’t hit a home run in his last 19 games.
Rodriguez could still be feeling the ill-effects from fracturing his hand in July, but he also could be feeling the pressure of playing in the postseason. Other than 2009, he’s batting .216 with the Yankees after the regular season.
While Girardi will certainly consider a change, he might be reluctant to put a future Hall of Famer down in the lineup. Rodriguez showed in 2009 that’s it’s possible for him to get hot in the postseason. That year, he hit .365 with six home runs in 15 games, leading New York to a World Series title.
It wouldn’t be the first time that Rodriguez has been demoted in the lineup because of a postseason slump. With the Yankees facing elimination in the 2006 ALDS, manager Joe Torre hit the slugger eighth against the Tigers. Rodriguez finished that series 1-14.
If Rodriguez does move down in the lineup, Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira and, possibly, Nick Swisher would likely be moved ahead of him. While Cano is the team’s best player, Swisher and Teixeira have fared even worse than Rodriguez in their playoff careers. They both entered the series hitting .170 and .160 with the Yankees in the playoffs.
The Yankees and Orioles are tied at 1-1 after splitting the first two games in Baltimore. Game Three is set to begin on Wednesday at 7:37 p.m. ET in New York.