Manager Aaron Boone sure had his fun screwing with the New York Yankees lineup for the first 13 games of the season … but that should be over by now. The weekend series sweep of the Cleveland Guardians gave him all the answers he needed.
Nobody’s faulting Boone for exploring other variations, given all the talent on this roster, but many would argue that the majority of the tinkering should take place at the bottom of the lineup — not at the top.
After all, the meat and potatoes of the offense is evident. The prototypical leadoff option is healthy and ready and performing. What else do you need?
That’s why the top four batters in the Yankees lineup should remain static until otherwise — as in, only interrupted by injuries or heinous slumps that justify some sort of a demotion. But we don’t see the latter happening because we already went through the worst of it last year. Right?
No, seriously, right?
Yankees top of the order needs to look like this until further notice
- DJ LeMahieu
- Aaron Judge
- Anthony Rizzo
- Giancarlo Stanton
Seems Boone got the memo for Tuesday night!
In this scenario, the Yankees get everything they want. The first is keeping their best hitter for average in the leadoff spot. Self-explanatory and a decision that speaks for itself without any debate. Next? Your best hitter in the two-hole. That’s Aaron Judge. Easy! Next question?
Rizzo is your lefty to break up the righties. He’s also the most productive lefty in the lineup. By far. And he’s crushing the ball in the early going. His career track record in the OPS+ and durability departments suggest this will be his spot in the lineup for quite some time.
Then, you have Stanton, who’s slumping terribly right now, but will eventually turn it around by batting .436 with 15 homers in a single month. Just wait. It’ll come. And he’ll never be moved below the cleanup spot, so he’s right where he needs to be. Once he starts producing, the headaches with strikeouts and weak pop-ups will be an afterthought.
Lastly, and best of all, this gives Boone the ability to tinker with the 5-9 spots. What does that do? It still allows there to be righty-lefty flexibility and offers the opportunity for a number of struggling hitters, such as Joey Gallo and Gleyber Torres, to be removed from the spotlight. The luxury is clearly in this part of the order, where there’s still a ton of talent with the ability to lengthen the offense like no other roster in MLB (well, maybe aside from the Dodgers).
That’s where Boone’s little experiments should take place. No more Aaron Hicks leading off. No more LeMahieu on the bench twice per week. No more Torres/Gallo anywhere near the top four spots. Let the best players cook at the top while you mix and match at the bottom. It’ll all work itself out, especially when everyone’s situated in a role and is feeling a lot more comfortable.