Yankees: Tinkering With 2017 Batting Order Possibilities

Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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Sep 27, 2016; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez (24) hits a two-run home run during the first inning against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports /

Vs. RHPs

  1. Brett Gardner, LF
  2. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
  3. Gary Sanchez, C
  4. Matt Holliday, DH
  5. Starlin Castro, 2B
  6. Didi Gregorius, SS
  7. Greg Bird, 1B
  8. Chase Headley, 3B
  9. Aaron Judge, RF

This possibly could be the Yankees’ lineup when they open the new season against Rays’ right-hander Chris Archer — assuming Archer is not traded by April.

The Yankees are crossing their fingers that the contact-speed skill sets of Ellsbury and Gardner will table-set nicely for Sanchez and Holliday. The outfielders made for a disappointing duo atop the lineup last year when they combined for a dull .262 batting average and lowly 36 stolen bases.

A Sanchez-Holliday-Castro-Gregorius-Bird onslaught gives manager Joe Girardi the chance to stack a fivesome of batters who can each eclipse 20 homers in a season. That total rises to six if Judge mashes his way up the order.

I know, I know: you must be thinking, “Why is a power bat like Bird’s in the bottom of the lineup?” The answer is quite simple.

After missing the entirety of 2016 recovering from shoulder surgery, Bird was assigned to scrape off the rust in the Arizona Fall League, where he posted a .215 batting average with one homer in 65 at-bats. The numbers weren’t the important part; it was about getting the reps in. That said, it’s unlikely that Girardi pressures Bird into being a middle-of-the-order bat early on during his sophomore session against major-league pitching.

When the Yankees face a right-handed starter in a National League park, where the usage of designated hitters is forbidden, Holliday might see limited action in left field. He played the position in 84 games (644 innings) with the Cardinals last year, albeit poorly, with -8 Defensive Runs Saved. Of course, Holliday can always be lifted for a late-inning defensive replacement. This is just a tactic to keep both his and Bird’s bats in the lineup to challenge home-field NL righties.