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Breaking down the Yankees’ projected lineup

The YES Network decided to look into the Yankees’ projected lineup. What can that tell us?

MLB: ALCS-New York Yankees at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Last Friday, the YES Network ran a segment discussing the possible lineups and defensive arrangements that the Yankees may run out there in 2020, based on the current construction of the 26-man roster. But does their projection make sense? Before we dive in, you can watch that segment as posted on the YES Network Twitter page.

So according to these projections, we should expect to see a lineup that looks something like this:

  1. DJ LeMahieu, 2B
  2. Aaron Judge, RF
  3. Gleyber Torres, SS
  4. Giancarlo Stanton, LF
  5. Gary Sanchez, C
  6. Luke Voit, 1B
  7. Miguel Andujar, DH
  8. Brett Gardner, CF
  9. Gio Urshela, 3B

The top of the order, LeMahieu and Judge, should surprise absolutely nobody. LeMahieu hit leadoff last year in 125 games, including all but two games after taking over the spot for good on April 20th. Judge, meanwhile. hit second in every game except for June 21st against the Astros, in which he led off.

After that, however, things get a bit more shaky. Stanton batting fourth makes sense, as he remains one of the best hitters on the team despite an injury-riddled 2019. He has also historically hit better as the cleanup hitter than anywhere except for second (which almost certainly won’t happen) or sixth (which would be too low for him).

Batting Torres third, meanwhile, would break up the two six-foot-six guys with somebody who is “only” six feet tall, while also rewarding the 23-year-old for a dominant season at the plate. Sanchez and Voit, the two other power hitters with the longest track record on the team, round out the middle of the order, as they look to get back to their pre-All-Star performances.

At the bottom of the order, the decision to include both Andujar and Urshela in the lineup, rather than putting Mike Tauchman in left and Stanton as the DH, may seem like a cop-out, to avoid making a decision between the two. However, in many ways, this arrangement makes the most sense, at least as the “base” lineup. Andujar put up a 130 OPS+ in his age-23 season in 2018, while even if Urshela sees a drop-off with the bat (which the metrics do not necessarily project), his defensive proficiency over Andujar at the hot corner will still be immensely valuable.

Of course, especially where the bottom of the order is concerned, we should expect the lineup to be in flux on a daily basis; after all, the 2019 Yankees used 155 different batting orders, with the most-used one occurring only three times. The DH spot in particular will be rotated quite a bit, with Stanton, Sanchez, and Voit likely receiving plenty of time there in order to help keep them healthy. Clint Frazier and Mike Ford could aalso force their way into the lineup with their bats, will also eat up some at-bats there. Meanwhile, Andujar will almost certainly see time at third base, LeMahieu will probably sprinkle in some games at first and third, Tauchman could easily play more than 100 games just rotating among the three outfield positions.

All this goes to say that, while the YES Network’s projected starters and defensive arrangement offer a look into the Yankees’ lineup next season, a single list cannot adequately portray what we will see in 2020. The Yankees essentially have at least 12 players (the nine in the list above, plus Tauchman, Frazier, and Ford) who would crack the starting lineup on more than a few Major League teams.

And for the Yankees, that’s nothing but good news.