Yankees: Will Aaron Judge really bat leadoff this season?

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 17: Aaron Judge
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 17: Aaron Judge /

Yesterday for the first time this spring the Yankees lineup featured Aaron Judge batting leadoff.  The move to bat Judge first has been a popular topic of discussion but will it be something we see during the regular season?

It’s common for managers to tinker with their lineups and experiment with different looks during spring training, but Yankees skipper Aaron Boone has said this could be something we see during the season against left-handed pitching. That was the case yesterday against Red Sox lefty Brian Johnson.

As odd as it to see a player of Judge’s stature up their leading off the game it makes sense from a strategic standpoint. When you consider the incredible .422 OBP he posted a season ago he definitely fits the mold of your prototypical leadoff guy in that regard. He gets into deep counts and makes the pitcher work to put him away every time he steps up to the plate. That’s exactly what you want to start a game off because it puts stress on the starter from the get-go which could make it more difficult for him to pitch deep into the game.

After his first taste of leading off Judge seemed open to the idea per Bryan Hoch of MLB.com:

"“What do I think of a leadoff hitter? It’s someone who gets on base,” Judge said. “Starts the team. Gets things going. There’s all different types of leadoff hitters.”"

More from Yankees News

Judge would certainly be a different kind of leadoff hitter, but there’s a handful of leadoff guys in the game today who hit for a lot of power as well.

None of them have ever hit 52 home runs but sluggers like George Springer (32 HR) and Charlie Blackmon (37 HR) are two examples of guys who can give their team a 1-0 lead before the fans can settle into their seats.

Blackmon and Springer are also guys who can work deep counts but one of the things they use to their advantage is aggressiveness. They’re great at hunting a pitch to jump on early in the count. In this Yankees lineup with Stanton and Sanchez backing Judge the last thing a pitcher wants to do is walk the leadoff guy so he should get more pitches to hit early in his at-bats. Starting pitchers want to establish the strike zone in the first inning of games which means more fastballs in the zone for Judge to take his best swings at.

It also means that Judge is guaranteed more at-bats than anyone else in the lineup over the course of a game. Now obviously the one and two hitters will usually have the same amount of at-bats but there could come a time when a big moment finds Judge with two outs and the game on the line. If you’re looking for a home run to tie it up or win the game wouldn’t you much rather have him in the box than Brett Garnder?

Next: Who could be this season's Aaron Judge?

In the grand scheme of things whether Judge bats first or second it shouldn’t really matter with all the talent throughout this Yankees lineup. He’s going to have another huge season no matter where he hits but when the team does face a lefty it wouldn’t be as crazy of a move as it’s being made out to be.

In fact, come next Thursday on Opening Day we just might see Judge taking the first at-bat of the Yankees season against Blue Jays’ southpaw J.A. Happ.

Now imagine if he went deep. What a sight that would be.