What the Yankees lineup should look like on Opening Day

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 20: Gary Sanchez
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 20: Gary Sanchez /

When the Yankees acquired Giancarlo Stanton back in December the first thing that came to my mind was his potential spot in the batting order.

Right now we have a pretty good idea Brett Gardner will lead off and Aaron Judge will follow him in the two hole. You can also expect Didi to hit sixth, followed by a bottom three of Brandon Drury, Aaron Hicks and the newly acquired Neil Walker. The biggest decision new Yankees skipper Aaron Boone will have to make is in the heart of the order.

Does he decide to split up the duo of Judge and Stanton by putting a lefty bat like Greg Bird in between them? Will he bat them back to back with fellow slugger Gary Sanchez following them in the cleanup hole? So far this spring that’s been the case on multiple occasions but it’s still early and by no means is anything set in stone. There’s only 15 days remaining until the season starts in Toronto so the questions regarding the lineup should be answered soon.

In the meantime, here’s the lineup I would pencil in to start the season:

LF Brett Gardner
RF/DH Aaron Judge
DH/RF Giancarlo Stanton
1B Greg Bird
C Gary Sanchez
SS Didi Gregorius
3B Brandon Drury
CF Aaron Hicks
2B Neil Walker

A back to back to back of Judge, Stanton and Sanchez would be deadly, but I’m going to split them up at the back-end and insert Bird into the cleanup spot. I couldn’t resist batting Judge and Stanton back to back strictly because of the fear they will strike into every opponent. Sanchez will scare every pitcher just as much but having Judge and Stanton back to back will make it impossible to pitch around both of them.

One thing to keep an eye on is Sanchez featured in the clean-up spot when the team faces a lefty starter. I would still keep him fifth, but there’s no doubt it would be extremely difficult to navigate through that kind of two through four in the order.

More from Yanks Go Yard

The reason I like Bird batting clean-up is because of all the pitches he will get to hit between Stanton and Sanchez. In addition to the trio of righties I think Bird can be a 40 home run hitter some day.

Batting fourth in this lineup could enable him to do just that because of all the fastballs he will see. No one is going to pitch around him with El Gary on deck and the dangerous Didi lingering in the hole.

The fact that Bird hits lefty is a big key because of how it might affect the opposing team’s bullpen late in games. One thing we should see a ton of this season is righty relievers because of Judge, Stanton and Sanchez. That’s why splitting them up a little makes the most sense. As good as they are, they’re going to run into a dominant right-hander every now and then. Keeping Sanchez fifth will make it tougher on the opponent to get through three outs with Bird in between.

The reason most managers like to split up lefties and righties in their lineup is because it makes it tougher for teams to mix and match when they go to their pen. A manager may not want to stick with a righty after Judge and Stanton with Bird in the four spot, so if he wants to put in a lefty he’ll likely leave him in to face Sanchez because Didi is behind him. The great thing about Didi and Bird is lefties don’t faze them so if the opposition does decide to stick with a lefty that will play into the strengths of this Yankees offense.

Sanchez would be a three or four hitter in every other lineup in baseball but clearly this is no ordinary lineup. I like him fifth because he is going to do damage no matter what arm the pitch is coming from. It’s a spot where the focus won’t be all on him and he can kind of fall under the radar. He’ll get a ton of RBI opportunities throughout the season and while he might not be protected by Judge or Stanton he will still get plenty of pitches to hit in between Bird and Didi.

Elsewhere, I don’t think it matters where Boone has Drury, Hicks and Walker in the bottom of the lineup. I have Drury in the seven spot to continue the theme of flip-flopping righties with lefties after Sanchez and Didi.

Next: Why the MLB is upset with Aaron Judge

However Boone chooses to build his lineup there will be runs scored in bunches across the board. There’s too much talent and power one through nine for this not to be one of the top offenses in the game. The construction of the lineup matters because of strategy and how the opposition might attack it. Although in the grand scheme of things, all these Yankees can rake no matter where they’re hitting in the order.