If the New York Yankees are looking at meaningless split statistics, they need to stop. Andrew Benintendi, since being acquired at the trade deadline, has seen his average dip 18 points and his OPS drop 20 points.
Ironically, the nine games he’s seen in the leadoff spot in the Yankees’ lineup have been his best. The problem, though? New York is 6-3 with 36 runs scored in those contests, with two of those wins coming against the A’s (a 13-run massacre) and Royals, and the other being the eight-run miracle against the Rays, which featured a Josh Donaldson grand slam in extras.
Otherwise, the run production hasn’t been exactly “consistent” and it doesn’t seem like a smart idea to plop Benny into a spot in the lineup he’s seen just 77 total games at before his arrival in New York.
DJ LeMahieu is this team’s leadoff hitter. He’s a better offensive player, he draws more walks, and he’s proven to be the driving force behind the Yankees’ offense when his bat is atop its game. Even so, at the end of the day, manager Aaron Boone can’t be giving LeMahieu fewer at-bats per game than Benintendi. Just … no.
Why are the Yankees experimenting with Andrew Benintendi in the leadoff spot?
Not only has Benintendi’s play declined over the last month, but using him improperly and placing him in an important role in which he has little experience is not going to make this offense better. Could LeMahieu be better in the leadoff role? Absolutely. But he’s still the man best fit for the job despite dealing with a foot/toe injury.
Career-wise, LeMahieu has seen 497 games as a leadoff hitter and is batting .291 with a .795 OPS. Benny’s 86 games of .267 and .799 isn’t enough to convince anyone of such a monumental change.
The roles were already established before the Yankees traded for Benintendi. He was brought in — or should have been brought in — to lengthen the lineup, not star in it. He doesn’t hit for power and his contact numbers are beginning to normalize. Bat him sixth or seventh to make this lineup more fearsome.
The ideal lineup? It seems pretty easy, even with injuries/regressions affecting the roster:
- DJ LeMahieu
- Aaron Judge
- Anthony Rizzo
- Giancarlo Stanton
- Gleyber Torres
- Andrew Benintendi
- Josh Donaldson/Oswaldo Cabrera
- Jose Trevino
- Isiah Kiner-Falefa/Aaron Hicks/Kyle Higashioka
Generally, that should be the “idea.” Donaldson should be pushed further toward the bottom because, again, he’s an underachieving player with potential who would benefit from a lesser role, and would still give opposing pitchers problems without having to be magnified in the lineup. The rest is self-explanatory.
But please, Boone, stop using Benny in the leadoff spot. It’s not something this team should do in October, so there’s no sense in “experimenting” with it unless there are far too many injuries to avoid such a scenario.