Sean Saint Jacques and Gary Phillips are your hosts for this episode, coming out of the Yankees’ last off day – scheduled off day, anyway, which has to be said because of all the weather they’ve faced – until May 7.
Since Sean and Gary lead off talking about the possibility of Giancarlo Stanton being moved in the batting order – a possibility Aaron Boone talked about – I want to address something about that, beyond the very good point made on the show about Stanton also getting off to a slow start last year before going on to win the National League MVP award.
Last year, Stanton started 154 games for the Marlins. He batted second 110 times, cleanup 35 times, fifth seven times, and leadoff and third once apiece. In other words, exactly where he bats in the order is not something that is going to mess with his head. So far with the Yankees, Stanton has been in the No. 3 spot in the lineup for all 16 games. Is it really a big deal if he moves? No.
Meanwhile, Aaron Judge started 62 games last year in the No. 3 spot, 30 as the No. 5 hitter, 28 batting second, 12 in the No. 6 hole, nine times cleanup, six times hitting seventh, and four games down at No. 8. He, too, is perfectly capable of moving.
And that brings up a possibility for the Yankees: rather than moving Stanton down in the order, it might make sense to just flip Stanton and Judge, having Stanton hit second and Judge third. Lineup protection is generally an idea that’s debunked, but it can be something that exists in extreme situations where you want to make sure not to issue a walk before facing a world-class hitter and the result is better pitches to hit. Stanton may be more vulnerable to pitch-arounds than Judge, who led the American League in walks last year and is top of the circuit again this year. With Didi Gregorius or Gary Sanchez hitting behind Judge, it’s not like he would be easy to give a base to, either, but he has shown plenty of ability to take them when given.
If you believe in the idea of protection, then it does make sense to protect Stanton with Judge, rather than the other way around, with big hitters still behind Judge. We’ll see what the Yankees do as they try to get their big offseason acquisition going and straighten out their early struggles.
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