The New York Yankees shifted up their lineup considerably ahead of Game 2 of the ALCS on Thursday night. In fact, they included Oswald Peraza at shortstop and moved Gleyber Torres out of the lead-off role, injecting Harrison Bader into the spot after his electric start to the postseason.
Torres has struggled to get going the past few games, hitting .130 with a 20% on-base rate since the start of the playoffs. Bader, on the other hand, is hitting .263 with a 36.4% on-base rate, including four homers, five RBIs, and two walks. During the regular season, Bader missed a significant amount of time due to a plantar fasciitis injury, featuring in just 86 games, including 14 with the Yankees.
However, general manager Brian Cashman always had the postseason in mind when he traded Jordan Montgomery in exchange for the injured outfielder.
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The Yankees are getting extraordinary value with Harrison Bader:
Luckily, his risk is paying off in dividends, with Bader elevating from the No. 9 spot in the batting order all the way to the lead-off man. Looking at his batting splits, Bader has only taken four at-bats leading off this year, an underwhelming sample size. In fact, Harrison has barely featured in that role at all throughout the course of his career, so this is new territory for the 28-year-old electrifying outfielder.
Unfortunately for manager Aaron Boone, he’s been forced to make a few big changes on a game-by-game basis due to inefficient bats and lackluster defense. Isiah Kiner-Falefa will sit for Thursday’s game in favor of Peraza, one of the Yankees’ top young prospects who finished the 2022 regular season on a high note.
At the very least, the Yankees should have an ideal defensive lineup, but given Bader‘s offensive contributions to start the playoffs, moving him up to the lead-off role was an easy decision, especially against Framber Valdez, who dominates lefty hitting. There was an argument that Anthony Rizzo should’ve been elevated to the top spot, but instead, he will bat cleanup with Giancarlo Stanton batting third.