2-hole hitters ‘cleaning up’ for Yanks

It wasn’t too long ago when the Yankees struggled to find a No. 2 hitter after Johnny Damon departed for free agency after the 2009 World Series. Remember how the Yankees tried to count on injury-prone Nick Johnson in 2010?

Derek Jeter has batted second in the order the majority of his career (54 percent) but has been the Yankees’ leadoff hitter quite a bit as well (36 percent), especially the past two seasons. DJ is off to a .400 start at the top of the order, but the 2-hole has turned out to be the most productive thus far in 2012 for the Yankees.

The combination of Curtis Granderson against right-handed starters and Nick Swisher against left-handed starters batting second has been devastating. Entering play Wednesday night, they have combined to bat .286 with 4 doubles, 12 home runs and 25 RBI I 91 at-bats. As a 2-hole hitter, Granderson has hit .281 with 8 homers and 13 RBI and Swisher .294 with 4 homers and 12 RBI.

Compare that with the cleanup spot, which is the traditional productivity position in the lineup. The Yankees are struggling in the 4-hole, which has been manned primarily by Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez. Cleanup hitters are batting a combined .221 with 5 doubles, 2 homers and 6 RBI in 86 at-bats. The Yanks are slugging .349 at cleanup and .725 in the 2-hole, which seems a bit backwards.

Granderson is tied with Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton for the American League lead in home runs with nine, trailing only Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, who has 12. Grandy leads the majors in home runs at home with eight. Since the start of the 2011 season, Granderson has hit 18 home runs off left-handed pitching, the most in the majors over that stretch. Hamilton is next with 13.

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