The New York Yankees‘ 2024 Opening Day batting order is expected to be far different than their 2023 unit. A reliance on Giancarlo Stanton to bounce back seems to be in the rearview mirror since he’s more of an additional premium bat after the acquisition of Juan Soto on Wednesday night.
The Yankees have something special brewing in the Bronx, not to mention the potential acquisition of Yoshinobu Yamamoto to bolster the starting rotation. They clearly need more support in that regard, but their current lineup bolsters several Hall of Fame-level players and, if healthy, may represent one of the best offenses in baseball.
Projecting the Yankees’ 2024 Opening Day Batting Order:
1.) 3B: DJ LeMahieu
In a perfect world, the New York Yankees would get maximum value from DJ LeMahieu at 35. He struggled before the All-Star break in 2023 but turned things around significantly once Sean Casey was hired as the team’s hitting coach — they have since hired James Rowson. Last year, he hit .243/.327/.390, including 15 homers and 44 RBIs. He was slightly above average, but the Yankees know he can be much better than that, and his value as a lead-off hitter is well-documented.
2.) RF: Juan Soto
Juan Soto will likely take over where Aaron Judge usually hits, in the number two spot. Soto is a Hall of Fame caliber bat at just 25 years old and is coming off another elite season. He hit .275/.410/.519 in 2023, including a career-high of 35 home runs and 109 RBIs. He walks at a career 19% average and is one of the best hitters in baseball with runners in scoring position. He solves almost every problem the Yankees had last year, but his ability to generate walks, leading the MLB with 132 last season, will benefit Judge the most.
3.) CF: Aaron Judge
Judge only played 106 games this past season due to a toe injury, but he’s expected to be 100% in 2024. Judge is considered the best hitter in baseball, with Soto trailing just behind. With his superpower of hitting home runs at an astronomical pace, the Yankees’ offense will be incredibly difficult to manage on a day-by-day basis.
Judge has had no fewer than 37 homers in three consecutive years, and that is considering he missed a lot of time last season. With runners on base, Judge hit an incredible .262/.422/.508, but only four of his home runs had runners on base. That is expected to change significantly with Juan Soto batting just ahead of him.
4.) 1B: Anthony Rizzo
Manager Aaron Boone indicated that Rizzo is back to full strength and should be ready for the start of 2024 spring training. At 34 years old, Rizzo is in the final year of a two-year, $40-million deal, including a club option for 2025.
Rizzo hit only .244/.328/.378 last season, but keep in mind, his numbers were dragged down after concussion symptoms disrupted his rhythm. Before the injury, Rizzo hit an incredible .305/.378/.513 with a 149 wRC+ and 11 homers. If he can turn back the clock and offer his usual offensive production, Rizzo should be a tremendous cleanup hitter behind Soto and Judge.
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5.) 2B: Gleyber Torres
It is becoming evident that Gleyber Torres will be the team’s second baseman in 2024, and for good reason. Torres was the Yankees’ second-best hitter in 2023 at 26 years old. He hit .273/.347/.453, including 25 homers and 68 RBIs. He posted his lowest strikeout rate in his career at 14.6% and finished with a 123 wRC+.
Torres was regularly a top half-of-the-order hitter, but with all the quality the Yankees added, he finds himself settling in at the number five spot, which is a great position to be in following the gauntlet of elite bats ahead of him.
6.) DH: Giancarlo Stanton
Management is excited about the idea of Giancarlo Stanton turning back the clock. Stanton had an extremely disappointing 2023 season at 33 years old. He hit .191/.275/.420, including 24 home runs and 60 RBIs. Staying healthy is the name of the game for Stanton, who will certainly be the team’s primary designated hitter moving forward. The Yankees may decide to use him sparingly in the outfield, but remaining healthy and in rhythm should promote a bounce back — there will be far less pressure for him to perform with the addition of Soto.
7.) LF: Alex Verdugo
The Yankees traded three pitchers in exchange for Alex Verdugo of the Boston Red Sox. A rare trade with Boston helps plug the left-field position for the 2024 season. Verdugo has one more year before he hits free agency, and he’s coming off a rather down campaign.
Over 142 games showcasing durability, Verdugo hit .264/.324/.421. His 98 wRC+ was his lowest since 2018 when he had only played 37 games. He sports a solid batting average and can get on base above 34%, a decent clip. As a lefty, he may be able to increase his home run totals in Yankee Stadium, having hit 13 last year. As a bottom-half-of-the-order bat, Verdugo is an excellent alternative to Harrison Bader in the outfield.
8.) C: Austin Wells
The Yankees are extremely excited about 24-year-old catcher Austin Wells, who showcased excellent progress toward the end of the 2023 season. He only hit .229/.257/.486, but he hit four homers and 13 RBIs over the final two weeks of the regular season. In fact, over that final stretch that included 46 plate appearances, he hit .289 with a 161 wRC+. Wells has excellent power and a lefty bat to contribute to the team’s diversity in the lineup.
9.) SS: Anthony Volpe
If Yankees young stud shortstop Anthony Volpe takes a big step forward in 2024, the batting order will feel the benefits. At just 22, Volpe hit .209/.283/.383 during his rookie season, adding 21 homers, 60 RBIs, and 24 stolen bases.
Volpe struggled with consistency but had a few good stretches that showcased his upside. One thing to know about the young shortstop is he’s a workhorse and is obsessed with improvement, so he may return a different player next season, which would give the Yankees a substantial amount of value in the nine-hole.