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Projecting the 2017 New York Yankees Opening Day roster

ESNY’s Projected Starting Lineup:

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury – CF
  2. Didi Gregorius – SS
  3. Gary Sanchez – C
  4. Greg Bird – 1B
  5. Matt Holliday – DH
  6. Starlin Castro – 2B
  7. Aaron Judge – RF
  8. Chase Headley – 3B
  9. Aaron Hicks – LF

This lineup is, of course, more likely to be posted up in the clubhouse if Gardner, who is in the top-10 in walks, runs scored, hits, triples and stolen bases among Yankees’ hitters since 1990, is traded from now until the end of the offseason.

Even if he sticks around, however, there is a ton of heavy lifting needed to improve a lineup that ranked 20th in batting average and second-to-last in BA with runners in scoring position.

Even with Holliday’s bat in there, New York is going to be relying profoundly on young guys like Sanchez, Judge and Bird for power production if this offense is going to go anywhere.

In his first cup of coffee in the bigs, Sanchez became the fastest player in baseball history (45 games) to reach the 18 home run mark and later tied Wally Berger as the fastest to reach 20.

In 27 games from Sept. 10- Aug. 10, Gary batted .373 and smashed 13 of his 20 home runs. During that span, the Yankees went 18-9 and jolted themselves back into relevancy.

Now, throw that in with the chance of Judge translating his average exit velocity (96.82 m.p.h) into results and Bird coming back strong while repeating his 2015 year (38 homer/109 RBI pace).

There is a ton of potential for these three to be a sequential force in this lineup while other capable offensive weapons protect them. 

In 2016, Castro became the fourth Yankees’ second baseman to hit 20 home runs in a single season, joining Robinson Cano, Joe Gordon and Alfonso Soriano.

The Dominican-born righty also slashed .290/.310/.486 in the second half, solidifying his year as a successful one — despite the fact that he swung at pitches in the left-handed batter’s box.

After struggling to adjust to the Bronx spotlight, Didi Gregorius ended his second year in the Bronx by becoming just the third shortstop Yankees history to hit at least 20 HR and bat over .275.

The only other two were Tom Tresh in 1962 and Derek Jeter in 1999, 2001 and 2004. His dual threat bat and adequate speed designates himself as perhaps the ideal No. 2 hitter the roster has to offer.

All in all, this lineup should be able to fill the void left by the ineffectiveness of Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez from a year ago — the two main reasons why the Bombers sold on August 1.