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Yankees' middle-of-the-order bats slumping in the (very) early going

Of course it's extremely early in the season, but the middle of the Yankees' order has underwhelmed thus far.

Tom Szczerbowski

After seeing the early portion of the Yankees' 2014 schedule, I got kind of excited. New York got to open up the season against the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays, both of whom finished in last place in their respective divisions last year and figure to do the same thing in 2014. Because of this, I was looking forward to seeing the Yankees' bats feast against inferior teams like Houston and Toronto in the first six games. Unfortunately, that hasn't happened here in the very, very early going.

Overall offensively, the Yankees have struggled out of the gate, scoring just 2.8 runs per game through the first five contests. Collectively, the Yankees are hitting just .254/.335/.320, have yet to hit their first home run, and haven't been so hot with RISP (.250 BA) as well. Naturally, the spotlight would point towards the middle-of-the-order guys like Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, and Alfonso Soriano as culprits to the early-season offensive struggles. And, sure enough, the Beltran-McCann-Soriano trio haven't produced much at all, combining for a very paltry .134/.148/.154 batting line through 54 plate appearances.

Among the three current middle-of-the-order bats, Soriano has looked the worst, and not by a small margin, either. Soriano came into Saturday's game looking for his first hit (0-for-12), but he did hit a couple of balls hard during yesterday's game, which perhaps could have been a sign that he was starting to come out of his early-season slide. In his final at-bat with runners at second and third in the eighth inning, though, he took two strikes right down the middle from Sergio Santos before whiffing at a slider way off the plate and in the dirt. All told, Soriano is now 0-for-16 with five strikeouts.

Beltran and McCann have been less awful, but have still been uninspiring thus far. Beltran is hitting .158/.190/.211 with just one extra base hit (double vs. Houston), while McCann is hitting .235/.235/.235 with no extra base hits, or walks, given his identical BA/OBP/SLG marks. Again, it's early, as these two have a total of 21 and 17 PA's, respectively. You can throw in the currently-injured Mark Teixeira as a contributor to the weak offensive output as well, as the first baseman hit .250/.308/.250 before pulling his hammy.

Because of the team's early-season offensive struggles, should Joe Girardi try to shake the lineup around? Eh, perhaps, but I wouldn't be too upset if he kept things mostly the same. Maybe move a couple of guys up and down a spot here and there, but nothing drastic. If Girardi wants to be creative, though, he could have Brett Gardner hit atop the order and have Jacoby Ellsbury move down to third with everyone else after that dropping down a spot, but I don't really expect him to do something like that here with just five games into the season.

Of course 54 PA's isn't all that much for one player, let alone three players like Beltran, McCann, and Soriano, but here we are. The Yankees' offense is in a rut right now and the middle-of-the-order bats aren't producing, so of course they're going to get some heat from the fans, even if it's still very, very early. After all, there's still 97% of the season still left to be played. Hopefully the offense will be able to straighten itself out here relatively soon; going back home to hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium on Monday could do the trick.