The Yankees will be sporting a new-look lineup in 2024, and one of the biggest questions regarding the lineup pertains to where Aaron Boone will put Juan Soto and Aaron Judge. On Foul Territory, he mentioned that as of right now, the order for the two superstars would likely be Juan Soto hitting second and Aaron Judge hitting third, but that the situation is still fluid there. Who leads off will affect whether Judge or Soto will hit second or third, with the Yankee skipper mentioning that DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres, and Alex Verdugo could all be leadoff options.
With the Yankees gearing up for Spring Training and players already in Tampa, we’re inching closer to when we’ll find out their initial lineup on Opening Day.
Aaron Boone Begins Piecing Together the Yankees’ Lineup
It wasn’t long into the offseason before the Yankees patched up their outfield, pulling off a deal for Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo in a rare trade between the two rivals before making their headling move of the winter. Juan Soto and Trent Grisham will prove valuable to the Bronx Bombers’ outfield, but it’s Soto whom the team has coveted for years. Coming off of a season where he hit a career-high 35 HRs and posted a 155 wRC+, the left-handed superstar is the perfect compliment to 2022 AL MVP Aaron Judge.
Hitting Soto in front of Judge makes sense based on their skillsets, as Soto has led all of baseball in OBP since debuting back in 2018 (.421), and the Yankee captain has the most home runs in baseball over the past three seasons (127) despite not having played a full season in 2023 due to injury. With this dynamic duo, the Yankees are expected to boast one of the better offenses in the American League, and there’s plenty of buzz about what the two can accomplish in the same lineup.
What is for certain in the order is that Aaron Boone will hit the two back-to-back, which was a given seeing how you could argue they’re the two best hitters in all of baseball. The leadoff spot can affect the order in which they hit, with Judge or Soto hitting in front of the order based on whether the leadoff hitter is right-handed or left-handed, and Boone hinted at a couple of potential options for the top of the lineup.
DJ LeMahieu is expected to be their primary leadoff option heading into 2024, and while the 35-year-old infielder had a pedestrian 101 wRC+ last season, his hot second half certainly earned him good favor with the organization. Aaron Boone already named him the starting third baseman during the Winter Meetings, and it’s expected that he’ll get plenty of run at the top of the order. If he were to falter in that role, the Yankees have a couple of options that they could pivot to that Boone mentioned.
Gleyber Torres put up a .347 OBP and 123 wRC+ across 158 games last year, serving as the team’s second-best hitter behind Aaron Judge and building up his stock plenty. He’s one of the best hitters a his position, and he sported the highest walk rate (10%) of his career in a full season. Torres has elite swing decisions and great power, but one could argue that he’d be better served in the middle of the order due to his excellent all-around hitting abilities.
We could also see newly-acquired outfielder Alex Verdugo serve as the table setter, as he has a low O-Swing Rate (25.2%) and excellent contact abilities, with projections believing he’ll have a season similar to 2021 where he posed a 106 wRC+. It’s unclear where he’ll fit into the Yankees’ lineup, as he’ll have to prove he’s better than the 98 wRC+ we saw in 2023, but in a ballpark like Yankee Stadium, he might generate more power and put up one of his better seasons as a Major Leaguer.
Regardless of where the Yankees order their bats, they’ll have a new-look offense with more balance and power, and they’ll hope to wash away the bitter taste left behind by the 2023 Yankees and their putrid offense.