After signing a new designated hitter this winter, the Yankees have their position players figured out — barring any trades. The impending competition between young players and overall uncertainty of what they will bring to the plate make predicting the batting order a fun, thought-provoking exercise.
The names in a lineup are more important than the order in which a manager stacks them. I’m not breaking any news that you, the Yankees, and baseball fanatics everywhere didn’t already know. Different people place different stock in the order of which the starting nine is stacked.
What I do know is no matter how you stack it, the Yankees’ offense was mediocre in 2016. They ranked in the bottom half of each of these major offensive categories:
- AVG: 20th (.252)
- HR: 19th (183)
- RBI: 23rd (647)
- SB: 18th (72)
- R: 22nd (680)
- OBP: 25th (.315)
- OPS: 24th (.720)
The Yankees’ home run leader was Carlos Beltran, who held onto the title with 22 homers before he became a member of the Texas Rangers August 1. Veterans Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira didn’t age gracefully and watched the sun set on their playing careers — Rodriguez was released, Teixeira retired.
When it comes to constructing a lineup, managers have to consider a multitude of aspects. It’s not as simple as listing nine players in order of their batting averages or OPS-es. The manager is tasked with incorporating rest days, strategizing statistics, balancing egos and honoring contracts.
For example, if a certain center fielder is hitting in the low .260s with an 88 OPS+, the fact that he was given a $153 million contract makes it difficult to demote him in the lineup without a barrage of media questioning. Doing so makes the general manager look bad and risks damaging the player’s mind. That might not sound like a big deal to the common fan, but it creates a semi-circus that ultimately distracts the team from its main goal of winning. Thus, the struggling $153 million center fielder stays atop the lineup.
Jacoby Ellsbury aside, the Yankees are in the process of forming a dynamic roster that features a mixture of exciting young blood and veteran mentorship. All eyes are on a nucleus of Baby Bombers to replace the black holes in last season’s batting order. Here’s a teaser of the possible lineup cards fans can look forward to in 2017:
Editor’s Note: What follows is typical of the writing you’ll always see at Yanks Go Yard. Aaron has put together a piece that has real thought behind it. Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.