New York Yankees Should Consider Using Slugger As Leadoff Hitter

The New York Yankees have several options to choose from in regard to a leadoff hitter in 2019, but the safe route would be either Aaron Hicks or Brett Gardner.

Hicks is an average batter, slashing .248/.366/.467 last season, but he performed well in certain categories, racking up 90 walks and 27 homers – it was the second-best season he’s ever had getting on base. Utilizing him as the leadoff would certainly be a good idea, but what if the Yankees chose to move him down to the No. 2 spot?

Just to be clear, I don’t expect Brett Gardner to make many appearances in the No. 1 spot, but rather at No. 10. His hitting has dropped off significantly in recent years and will likely be used as a rotational/leader piece to improve the team. His playoff experience is essential for a roster featuring a lot of youth in important positions – outfield, first-base, second-base, third-base, and catcher.

The New York Yankees should consider their slugger:

What if the Bombers put Aaron Judge in the No. 1 spot in the lineup?

Last season, he performed well at No. 2, but imagine the intimidation factor he presents if leading off? His home run rate is far above Hicks or Gardner’s, which could put the Yanks at an advantage if he can hit a few long balls at the beginning of games.

My concern would be the consistency and flow of the lineup, as manager Aaron Boone seemed to prefer a heavy hitting core (No. 2-5) than diversifying the hitters throughout the order.

The Yankees can certainly try this idea out, as it will either prove to work or they can go back to their original plan. Judge has a team-high .919 OPS which might indicate potential success in the leadoff position but having him start a five-batter string of sluggers certainly doesn’t hurt either.

Additional information:

While Boone has left the leadoff hitter spot open for change, we can’t deny the success Hicks has had there in the past. At No. 1 he slashed .276/.372/.585 and had 11 homers. He racked up 4.28 pitches per plate appearance in 2018, finishing as the most efficient leadoff hitter on the team. His patience at the plate and ability to make contact have earned him the first crack come the start of the regular season.