Heading into the 2024 season with two of the best hitters in all of baseball, New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone outlined his thinking on the batting order and indicated that Juan Soto will bat second while Aaron Judge will be moved to third.
“I think about it all the time,” Boone said of shaping the Yankees’ new lineup, during an interview with “Foul Territory.” “Yeah, right now, you know, you probably (want) Juan in the two hole and Judgy third.”
This would mark a significant change for the Yankees, as Judge has primarily batted second throughout his career, doing so in all but two of his starts last season. Before Boone’s interview, some experts, including CBS Sports’ Mike Axisa, were projecting Soto might bat behind Judge.
Things can always change as the season develops, but with Soto’s ability to get on base in front of Judge’s power, the Yankees stand to score a lot of runs with the order Boone projected. Opposing pitchers will also have to contend with the fact that Soto is left-handed while Judge is right-handed.
Assuming Aaron Boone figures out that Soto should go in front of Aaron Judge in the batting order, we’re about to see the best on-base guy of his generation batting ahead of the best power hitter of his generation,” as FanGraphs explained shortly following the offseason trade that brought Soto to New York.
After overhauling a lineup that ranked near the bottom of MLB in several categories last season by adding one of the game’s best left-handed sluggers, the Yankees are poised for significant improvement in 2024. But some questions still remain.
During the recent interview, Boone also dropped new hints on a bigger challenge for the Yankees batting order: Who will hit leadoff ahead of its most fearsome bats?
The candidates seem to be second baseman DJ LeMahieu (.327 OBP in 2023), shortstop Gleyber Torres (.347 OBP in 2023) and newly-acquired outfielder Alex Verdugo (.324 OBP in 2023 for the Boston Red Sox).
“I really feel excited about the way DJ finished the season last year and the winter that he’s had,” Boone said. “I’m hopeful that he gets back to being, you know, the player he was in the second half, where he’s getting on base a ton and can solve that leadoff spot for us.”
It seems like LeMahieu’s job to lose at this point, but Boone added that he has additional options to consider.
“Obviously bringing Verdugo over is a huge deal, he can hit in that spot,” the manager added. “You could move Gleyber up there if you wanted to, so I do feel like we have a lot of really good options.”
Anyway you slice it, the Yankees batting order will be one of the most challenging to face in the upcoming season. In addition to the leadoff contenders, Soto and Judge, the Bombers have Giancarlo Stanton and Anthony Rizzo, two more bats that can slug more than 25 homers if they stay healthy.
As Boone finalizes his order, fans can expect big things from the addition of Soto and a potential move down the order for Judge.