COMMENTARY | The New York Yankees have shown that they are vulnerable to left-handed pitching, at least through the first few weeks of the season.
In 12 games against right-handed starters, the Yankees have scored 72 runs, an average of six runs per game. But in seven games against lefties, New York has tallied just 21 runs, or three runs per game.
Numbers may mislead at times, but they do not lie.
One of the problems against left-handers is the lack of a right-handed hitting first baseman. Instead, Lyle Overbay is getting the majority of the playing time at first base.
The 36-year-old Overbay has done OK against lefties over the course of his career. Overbay is hitting .254/.303/.390 with 27 homers and 127 RBIs in 1,238 plate appearances over the course of a career that began in 2001 with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
But Overbay doesn't hit left-handers much at all anymore and hasn't for a long time.
The last time he cleared the .250 mark against left-handed pitching was six years ago, in 2007 as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Since then, the numbers against left-handers are somewhere between poor and horrific:
2008: .215/.285/.255, no homers, eight RBIs in 167 plate appearances.
2009: .190/.256/.278, one homer, eight RBIs in 86 plate appearances.
2010: .222/.295/.405, six homers, 18 RBIs in 139 plate appearances.
2011: .241/.299/.353, two homers, 7 RBIs in 117 plate appearances.
2012: .214/.267/.286, no homers, no RBIs in 15 plate appearances.
That brings us to April 2013. Overbay has gone to the plate 18 times against pitchers who throw with their left hand. The line: .056/.056/.056. One single, four strikeouts. That's it. Oh, and he has grounded into two double plays, so he has that going for him.
Overbay has been terrific against right-handers; .326/.370/.535 with two homers and eight RBIs in 46 plate appearances. While the Yankees continue to wait for Mark Teixeira to return from his wrist injury, Overbay has been an absolute revelation against right-handers.
But, oh, those lefties have been eating him alive.
So here's a thought to ponder while New York continues to wait on its four injured All-Stars (Teixeira, Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez) to return: Why not move Kevin Youkilis over to first base against left-handers, put Jayson Nix at third base and sit Overbay down. If a right-hander should happen to come on in relief later in the game, Overbay is available to do what he does best: hit right-handers.
This is not to say that Nix is the second coming of Albert Pujols against left-handed pitching. For his career, Nix is only a .238/.309/.419 hitter with 16 home runs and 40 RBIs in 412 plate appearances.
Still, though, that is a far sight superior to what Overbay can offer at this point in his career.
The Yankees have overachieved, at least in the eyes of many experts, by winning 11 of their first 19 games without the missing quartet in the lineup.
But until those guys come back healthy, manager Joe Girardi needs to consider being a bit more creative while trying to create some offense. Since New York isn't scoring against left-handers, sitting Overbay and playing Nix seems like something to try.
Phil Watson is a freelance journalist and commentator based in upper Michigan who covers the New York Yankees for the Yahoo Contributor Network.
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