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Would full-time platoons make sense for the Yankees?

Is Joe Girardi in danger of deploying a platoon strategy that could be detrimental to the team?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this week the Yankees faced a left-handed starter for the first time and it prompted Joe Girardi to make some major lineup changes. Three of his southpaw sluggers, Stephen Drew, Brett Gardner, and Brian McCann, sat in favor of their right-handed counterparts on the bench. Years ago Casey Stengel proved that utilizing a platoon system can maximize a team's production. However, is this conventional wisdom appropriate for the 2015 Yankees?

Second Base

Player Career 2014 Career 2014
Stephen Drew .267/.336/.442 .172/.249/.335 .228/.285/.377 .129/.194/.177
Gregorio Petit .235/.257/.296 .235/.257/.294 .358/.382/.566 .379/.400/.724

In a limited number of plate appearances Gregorio Petit has established himself as a player that can feast on left-handed pitching. On the other hand, Stephen Drew has done most of his damage against right-handers in his career. Since the Yankees have made the decision to play veterans at the keystone for the time being, they might as well stick with this platoon. Facing mostly righties should help Drew rediscover his swing after a very forgettable 2014. If Petit can come anywhere close to those career numbers when Drew sits, the two could combine to give the Yankees league average production or better at a premium position.

Left Field

Player Career 2014 Career 2014
Brett Gardner .268/.347/.401 .253/.325/.450 .255/.344/.364 .262/.333/.354
Chris Young .227/.296/.415 .243/.301/.418 .255/.358/.461 .149/.290/.270

While Gardner has hit better against righties than lefties over the course of his career the difference isn't enough to truly consider him a platoon player. On top of that, his potential platoon partner, Chris Young, wouldn't offer a whole lot of offensive improvement on days that Gardner would come off the bench. In fact, Gardner has performed better than Young against lefties for each of the past two years. Even if Young were to regress back to his career marks against southpaws in 2015, Gardner would still be the better everyday option as his speed and fielding ability would make up for any gap in plate production. The most appropriate role for Young on this team is to serve as a Carlos Beltran insurance policy.


Player Career 2014 Career 2014
Brian McCann .276/.352/.479 .209/.272/.360 .263/.321/.435 .292/.324/.526
John Ryan Murphy .241/.267/.293 .295/.326/.364 .265/.308/.367 .270/.308/.378

Like Gardner, Brian McCann's career splits suggest that there's no need to sit him against lefties. The odd trend here is that in 2014 McCann handled lefties with relative ease while he struggled mightily against righties. It will be interesting to see if that continues this season. Although the sample size for John Ryan Murphy is extremely small, it's clear that he's an offensive downgrade compared to McCann, regardless of pitcher handedness. Barring injury, Murphy should be no more than a prototypical backup catcher in 2015, starting 25-30 games and pinch-hitting when appropriate.

It's way too early in the season to know for sure if Joe Girardi plans to platoon any or all of the positions above, but the only one that makes sense is second base. Thanks to the binder of infinite wisdom he may very well know this and is simply getting players with an injury history some rest early in the season. Still, this is a situation worth monitoring as the season progresses to make sure Girardi's pushing the right buttons and not pushing the wrong ones to get the most out this Yankee squad.