As obligatory as a post about the lineup, so is the following statement. Overall, lineup construction doesn’t mean a whole lot unless you really screw it up. We may not be Aaron Boone’s biggest fans here, but we know he’s not going to hit Isiah Kiner-Falefa leadoff and Aaron Judge ninth. Still, it’s a fun thing to muse about and when there isn’t any real action to dissect yet, it’s a good thought exercise.
This one in particular was brought on by the lineup the Yankees put out in their Spring Training matchup with the Blue Jays yesterday:
For one reason or another, one I couldn’t entirely place and really still can’t, I liked the top-6 of that lineup, not just the players, but the way they were ordered. I’d probably flip DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks, however, and the addition of Anthony Rizzo would necessitate those previous two moving down. Putting Rizzo in there means it’s the full strength lineup. Here’s how I’d order them.
- Aaron Judge, RF
- Josh Donaldson, 3B
- Joey Gallo, LF
- Giancarlo Stanton, DH
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Aaron Hicks, CF
- DJ LeMahieu, 2B
- Isiah Kiner-Falefa, SS
If you want to put Rizzo first like the Yankees did at times last year and bump everyone else down a spot, sure, why not? But I really like the idea of Judge and Donaldson–two power and 0n-base guys–in front of Gallo and Stanton. Stanton, Rizzo, and Hicks can all work walks reasonably well, too, and could/should provide some men-on-base opportunities for LeMahieu and the rest of the bottom of the order.
Looking at the lineup laid out this way made me feel a bit better about the season’s outlook. There’s still a need for bouncebacks–Gallo, Hicks, LeMahieu, even Rizzo to an extent–but the top four is just as good as most any team’s top four which could help balance out some of the, uh, not so great anticipated production from shortstop and catcher.
The Yankees are–or should be–good enough that the lineup won’t matter too much. However, given the potential question marks and potential dead spots in the order, it does behoove Boone and company to make the lineup as optimized and organized as possible.