The New York Yankees are set to see a more youthful starting lineup in 2017 compared to seasons past. There is no more Alex Rodriguez or Mark Teixeira. Brian McCann was traded to the Houston Astros. And as a result, this will be a Yankees’ team full of some fresh faces.
But even with the youth movement, the lineup will still feature some hallmarks from years past. Some of those will be names that the Yankees wish were no longer in the starting lineup, but the simply have no option but to roll them out there once again. From Jacoby Ellsbury to Chase Headley, there will be names Yankees fans will likely want to “boo” before the end of April, but they will remain where they are thanks to the money they are owed.
So without any further ado, let’s take a look at what the batting order could look like come Opening Day for the Bronx Bombers.
- Brett Gardner, LF – The Yankees simply do not have any great options for the top of the order. Between Gardner, Ellsbury, Gregorius and Castro, Gardner is the most qualified. Of the four, he had the highest on-base percentage last year, with a .351 in the metric. At 33, Gardy may not have the wheels he once did to steal bases, but he was still able to swipe 16 last year. Given he is not a big-time power bat, he will not be needed in the middle of the order. On any other team, he would likely find himself somewhere around the sixth or seventh slot, but here, he is the best the Yankees have to lead off ballgames. [Kenny]
- Jacoby Ellsbury, CF – Ellsbury was supposed to be the leadoff man for years when he signed in the Bronx a few years back. But he has been a total disappointment. He is still getting paid big bucks, and is still capable of stealing 20 bags. So while his average and on-base percentage are not leadoff quality, he fits the profile of the two hole hitter better than anyone else here. This marks two lefties to lead things off, so Joe Girardi may look to shake things up when they are facing someone like Chris Sale or David Price.
- Gary Sanchez, C – Time for some power. Gary Sanchez exploded on the scene when he arrived last year, with a home run display that many have never seen before. In 201 at-bats, he launched 20 home runs. In other words, he hit one every 10 at-bats, which is good for one every two or three games. He also batted .299, and was hands down the team’s best offensive player. He will be locked into either the three or four slot almost every day he plays if he keeps things going like he did in 2016.
- Matt Holliday, DH – A fresh face in pinstripes. Holliday comes over from the St. Louis Cardinals via free agency and should find himself in the middle of the lineup. His main attribute will be his power, having launched 20 homers in an injury-plagued 2016 season. As he moves into the hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium, 30 home runs are not out of the question for a guy whose health should be preserved a bit as he moves into the DH role and will not need to roam the outfield much more in his career.
- Didi Gregorius, SS – While Sanchez got all of the attention, Didi had himself a nice offensive year as well. He batted a solid .276 while driving in 70 runs, hitting 20 home runs and slugging .447. He has developed a little more power than many expected him to have when he first arrived in the Big Leagues and now he is set to enter the prime age of 27. That might mean some of those 32 doubles could get a little extra push over the fence, leading to more homers. At the end of the day, he should slide into the number five hole quite nicely.
- Starlin Castro, 2B – Castro was once a highly touted prospect for the Chicago Cubs, before seeing much of the hype die down after several ok seasons. At this point in his career, he is the type of player who is good. He is not great and he is not terrible with the bat, but he is average. Therefore, when looking for someone to split two lefties in the order, he fits in perfectly in the number six hole. He batted .270 with 21 homers and 70 RBIs a season ago.
- Greg Bird, 1B – Bird is a bit of a mystery as we enter this season, as he missed all of 2016 with an injury suffered last February. Back in 2015, he flashed some serious power as he hit 11 homer runs in 157 at-bats. But after missing an entire season, the Yankees will not know what they can expect. Look for him to start down here around the seven slot, with the chance to work his way up into the meat of the order if he can crush a few homers.
- Chase Headley, 3B – The man all Yankees fans love to hate. Headley has not lived up to expectations since signing a pretty nice contract a few Winters back. He has been mediocre, to say the least, and there simply has been nothing special about him. Last year he batted .253 with 14 homers and a .385 slugging percentage. He will certainly find himself near the bottom of the lineup.
- Aaron Judge, RF – One of the Yankees’ most highly touted prospects struggles in his small taste of the Majors in 2016 before having his season ended by injury. In 84 at-bats, Judge hit a mere .179, but did manage four long balls. He has some serious talent and should not be long for the nine hole. But he will need to prove himself at the start of the season. The kid will need to climb the totem pole, which he should do with a nice display of power.
How do you see the New York Yankees’ starting lineup shaking out for the upcoming 2017 MLB season? Tell us in the comments!