Yankees could be planning a big batting order change for struggling slugger

MLB: New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees are testing different batting order alignments during spring training to fortify a unit that struggled in 2023. The additions of Juan Soto and Alex Verdugo should go a long way toward supporting their hopes of making a run at the World Series. However, manager Aaron Boone has to find the right batting order to create balance and chemistry.

Of course, Aaron Judge and Soto will feature at the top of the order, but the cleanup spot is in line for a big change, with Giancarlo Stanton trending in the wrong direction over the past few seasons.

Ever since 2021, Stanton’s numbers have quickly declined, leading to a career-worst 2023 season. He hit .191/.275/.420, including 24 homers and 60 RBIs over 101 games. With a strikeout rate hovering around 30%, this is the first time in Stanton’s career he posted a wRC+ below 100, coming in at 11% worse than the average MLB hitter. In fact, his numbers with runners in scoring position were abysmal, hitting .200/.28/.411, including 27 strikeouts over 90 at-bats.

The Yankees Have No Choice But to Move Stanton

The truth is that the Yankees desperately need more from their $98 million slugger, who only has a buyout option in 2028. This spring, Stanton hasn’t looked any better, hitting .067/.176/.067 over six games and 17 plate appearances. Stanton usually needs a substantial amount of time and at-bats to find his flow, but he certainly isn’t offering the optimism that Soto is, which isn’t ideal.

In fact, Jack Curry of the YES Network suggested that the Yankees’ lineup on Sunday could look very similar to their Opening Day order. This would situate Stanton in the number six hole, moving him two spots out of the clean-up role, which Anthony Rizzo could be in line to inherit.

Even Gleyber Torres is batting ahead of Stanton at this point in time, coming off one of his best offensive campaigns. Unfortunately, it is possible that Stanton will continue to drop down the order if he struggles, but his long-term future may be even more compromised.

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Moving on From Stanton in 2025

Considering the way Spencer Jones performed during spring training and having already been moved back to minor league camp, there’s an argument to make that he could take over Stanton’s at-bats late in the season or in 2025. That would suggest the Yankees completely move on from Stanton and eat his money, allowing some of their younger players to take over in the outfield and utilize the designated hitter spot as a rotational asset.

Nonetheless, Giancarlo dropped a ton of weight this off-season to promote more mobility and maintain his strength. He still has some of the best bat speed numbers and generational power in the game, but his lack of confidence and clear regression are certainly a point of concern for the Bombers.

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