I briefly made note of this already in posting the Yankees’ lineup, but it’s worth expanding on.
Mark Teixeira’s hamstring injury has forced manager Joe Girardi to make some lineup changes for Game 5 of the ALCS today and he has Lance Berkman playing first base and batting sixth against left-hander C.J. Wilson.
Berkman is one of the best, most underrated hitters of this era and he’s a switch-hitter who’s had plenty of success against left-handed pitching throughout his career. However, his production versus lefties has fallen off a cliff after age 30 and includes a .171 batting average this season.
Now, the sample size this season is only 82 at-bats, so those numbers may not be particularly meaningful. However, he also hit just .237 versus lefties from 2007-2009. Add it all up and in more than 500 total plate appearances spread over the past four seasons Berkman has hit a combined .225 with a .370 slugging percentage against southpaws.
By questioning his place in the lineup I’ve probably guaranteed that Berkman will go 5-for-5 with a pair of homers off Wilson, but before the game begins I’ll go ahead and suggest that Girardi is making a mistake by batting him so high in the lineup (and perhaps even by having him in the lineup at all).
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.