(Kelly Johnson, king of the platoon possibilities. Courtesy of Corey Sipkin/NY Daily News)
As baseball continues to evolve and become more specialized, platoons have become a common part of most team's lineups. Rather than plug 1 player with a skill or 2 and a weakness or 2, or a substantial hitting split, into a full-time role, teams have learned that it's more valuable to split those roles up among 2 players to cover for their combined weaknesses and lessen the negative effect of that hitting split. The Red Sox and the Rays are 2 teams that have utilized the platoon strategy to great success recently, and it's no coincidence that they've been 2 of the best teams in the American League.
The Yankees' strategy when it comes to platoons has been more reactionary over the past few seasons. Rather than proactively attempt to build a lineup that includes 1 or 2 platoons, their attempts at utilizing them usually come as a response to injuries to their everyday starters. That's a dangerous strategy to employ when the core of your lineup is as old as the Yankees' has been, and their failure to adequately prepare for the injury situations that have arisen in part led to the carousel of suck we saw at third base and shortstop in 2013.
The strategy has taken a small step forward with this season's roster construction, although it hasn't fully made the leap to completely proactive. The Yankees enter the 2014 season with an array of platoon situations, some born out of injury-related necessity and some out of proactive strategy. The effectiveness of these various platoons will be a season-long factor in determining how good this team can be.