Thursday, May 4, 2017


Something has been bugging me lately, and I can't seem to get over it. There is an art to creating the most strategic and effective lineup. There are a lot of factors to consider when creating that lineup every game. Are the Yankees facing a righty or a lefty? Are they home or away? Is it an inter-league game? But one thing should never change....and that is putting your best hitters in the middle of the order, right?

Photo: John Munson/The Star-Ledger
Well, not Joe Girardi. Conventional baseball and tradition says your best hitters should be batting three and four for those RBI opportunities and another effective hitter in the fifth spot for protection. Baseball managers around the league still do this because works!

So if Girardi would STOP listening to his binder here the correct answer would be to move Aaron Judge up in the order. So far in the season he has consistently hitting in the fifth or sixth spot. I usually stick to the idea of "If it ain't broke don't fix it" but in this case I do want to fix it. Sure, the Yankees are in first place in the AL East, that's great. Clearly a lot is going right for the Yankees even without the conventional lineup. I just don't like batting my hottest hitter lower in the order. Judge hit his 13th home run and drove in two RBIs last night. He is the American League Rookie of the Month and it's time to take the training wheels off, he is a big boy now. He doesn't need to be weened anymore, he has a .330BA and a .818 slugging percentage....why isn't he batting third?!

Photo: Newsday
When I look at other team lineups like the Los Angeles Angels, they always have Mike Trout batting third. Imagine that....and then Albert Pujols bats fourth and protects him. Same thing for the Orioles, they have Manny Machado batting third and then Mark Trumbo bats after and protects him for a reason. It's not a secret, and most of works!

So I just don't understand why Girardi isn't putting Judge in one of these spots! It's not a matter of balancing out the lineup between lefty and righty hitters because they can still do that. Yes, we are still winning with Judge lower in the order but it makes sense to put him in these RBI spots. In my mind there is only one scenario where I would have Judge batting in the 6th spot...

If this were the All-Star game then by all means, bat Judge lower in the lineup. Here it makes sense to put him behind the Trout's, Edwin Encarnacion and Giancarlo Stanton's and whoever else you personally like. These are guys with the experience and the track record that belong in the heart of a lineup and Judge can compliment them until it is his turn. But this is no All-Star game with stacked teams where the best of the best battle it out for bragging rights. This is the 2017 Yankees driven by a youth movement.....and a young kid who is on fire!

(April 12, 2017 - Source: Elsa/Getty Images North America)
I'm not always so critical of Girardi but this time I disagree with the binder. The game has changed a lot over time, but fundamentally it still makes sense to put your best hitters higher in the order and that will never change. Maybe I am wrong here. Maybe I should just leave it alone since it is working and the Yankees are winning but I just can't ignore it.

I think Girardi's current strategy is a mistake. It's time to maximize the potential of this lineup and make some tweaks! Lose the binder. Maybe I am wrong but I think there is room for improvement. What do you think? Where would you bat Judge?

--Jeana Bellezza
BYB Managing Editor
Follow me on Twitter: @NYPrincessJ

BYB Stack Merchandise (2017)

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