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Derek Jeter: To Leadoff or Not To Leadoff? That is the Question

The question has been raised recently. Who will leadoff for the Yankees in 2011; Jeter or Gardner? There appears to be some differing opinions within the Yankees organization.

By: Jessica West Regan

After signing a three-year deal this off-season for $51 million (with a fourth-year player option), Derek Jeter was under the impression that he would be the starting shortstop and leadoff hitter for the New York Yankees.  He was under this impression because manager, Joe Girardi, penciled him into the top spot of the lineup at the beginning of Spring Training.

The story has seemed to shift.

Rumors and reports around the Grapefruit League claim that someone on the inside of this dominant organization (cough, cough, Hank Steinbrenner, cough) wants to see Jeter bumped from the number one batting position and replaced with speedy outfielder, Brett Gardner.

2010 wasn’t Jeter’s best year, but lest we all forget his valid 2009 MVP campaign season where he batted .334.  Oh, and in the leadoff position.

Yes, Brett Gardner’s legs can rival a Kentucky Derby racehorse, and his patience at the plate could challenge Deanna Favre’s, but Jeter has contributed greatly to the Yankees over the past decade-plus.  He deserves the chance to prove to everyone he still has the force within him to lead off this team to victory after victory.

With a .313 average as a leadoff man, Jeter has never expressed an opinion of where he would prefer to hit, but being that his best numbers were put up as the 2009 starting hitter, it seems silly to assume he would welcome the bump down the batting order without objection.

Although, if it’s true that FO desires a lineup adjustment—and Girardi agrees to it—Jeter may just roll smoothly with the changes.  Since the first day Derek donned the famous Bronx pinstripes, he has voiced one goal: To play to win.  His five World Series rings prove that any challenges or changes he has faced have only enhanced his desire to reach that goal, which this situation may further confirm.

Whether he steps up to the plate first or second, there is no doubt that Jeter’s frame of mind is in the exact spot it needs to be this spring to captain his team to another world championship.

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