With a roster so deep, the Yankees have almost unlimited combinations when it comes to their starting lineup heading into the beginning of the season.
As an avid supporter of Sabermetrics, Bill James who essentially started it, had said that a batting order has a lack of importance; however, I think it is still important to have a set lineup that works for a team. This Yankees lineup was formed by taking numbers from each player’s time in their respective spot in the order, and numbers from their most recent full season.
Here is my ideal lineup for the 2020 Yankees (when everyone is healthy):
1. Aaron Judge RF
I know it is a rather unpopular opinion to have a guy like Aaron Judge, a so called run producer hitting in the leadoff spot. However, I am a fan of having power from the top. A good example of this is in Minnesota, with their catcher Mitch Garver. He finished 2019 with a .357 ISO (isolated power), which is elite. This really worked out for the Twins, and I think it will also work for the Yankees. Also, Aaron Judge has probably the best track record with getting on base on the Yankees, as he has a career .394 OBP.
2. Aaron Hicks CF
Arguably a top-five CF in baseball, Aaron Hicks seems like an ideal two hitter. He has not hit in the two hole a whole lot, but he seems like a very good bat to protect Aaron Judge, and a nice way to add diversity to the top of the lineup with his switch hitting bat. In 2018 (his last full season), Hicks had a .360 wOBA, 129 wRC+, and a .366 OBP.
3. DJ LeMahieu 2B
Finishing top-four in MVP voting in 2019, Lemahieu broke out with the Yankees, slashing .327/.375/.518, getting a .375 wOBA, 136 wRC+, and a .379 xwOBA. Last year, Lemahieu hit leadoff for the majority of the year, which to me does not make much sense, as with a 7.0 BB%, he does not walk as much as a guy like Aaron Judge. Putting Lemahieu in a spot like the three hole would give him more opportunities to be a “run producer.”
4. Giancarlo Stanton LF
As we know, Giancarlo Stanton is a monster at the dish, and historically, his value maximises when he hits in the four hole. In 2018 (in his last full season) in the four hole, Stanton had a .416 wOBA and a 167 wRC+. He definitely has been at his best with the Yankees when hitting cleanup.
5. Gleyber Torres SS
In 2019, Gleyber Torres truly broke out at the plate, having a .358 wOBA, 125 wRC+, .256 ISO, and a .341 xwOBA. Although he is right handed, in his lefty vs. righty splits, he hits right-handed pitching better, so he seems like an ideal candidate to protect Giancarlo Stanton, who is in the cleanup role.
6. Gary Sánchez
As the second best offensive catcher in baseball, and a well above average hitter alone, Gary Sánchez is so talented as a hitter, and as a six hole hitter, just shows how amazing the Yankees lineup is one through nine. In 2019, Sanchez struggled with injuries, but was effective in his time on the field. He was able to get .346 wOBA, 116 wRC+, .393 ISO, .363 xwOBA, and an 8.1 OFF.
7. Luke Voit DH
Luke Voit has proven to be a well above average major league hitter last season with the Yankees. In 2019, Voit still managed to get a 2.2 fWAR/150, while having terrible numbers defensively. He finished 2019 with a 12.9 OFF, .360 wOBA, and a 126 wRC+. In my first base rankings, I had him as the 8th best first basemen in all of baseball. However in my lineup, Voit would not even have to play the field, as he could be the DH, which would eliminate the below average defense burden he brings to the table.
8. Mike Ford 1B
We did not see much Mike Ford last year, but when he was on the field, he was very solid at the dish. Although a rather small sample size last year, it is hard to ignore Ford’s produced at the plate, as he was able to get a .372 wOBA, 134 wRC+, a .365 xwOBA, and a 10.4 BB%. Very impressive numbers for Ford, as for me, he has earned a starting spot over guys like Brett Gardner, or Mike Tauchman.
9. Gio Urshela 3B
As someone who was with the Yankees Triple-A affiliate to start the season, Gio Urshela was not expected to do much at the major league level this season. Over his career, Urshela has carried a subpar bat, with below average/mediocre fielding. Although his glove slightly regressed in 2019, his bat was very good. Urshela was able to get a .369 wOBA, 132 wRC+, 20.2 wRAA, .220 ISO, .353 xwOBA, and a 40.6 Hard Hit%. These numbers are quite impressive for someone who the Yankees had little expectations for coming into this season.
Overall, in my opinion, the Yankees have the best lineup in baseball without a doubt. In this potential lineup, the Yankees’ hitter with the lowest wRC+ in their most recent full season was Gary Sánchez, with 116 wRC+. The Yankees will be making some noise with the bats this season, and it won’t be hitting trash cans.