This isn’t the start Giancarlo Stanton envisioned when coming to the New York Yankees. Maybe a small lineup tweak could help the former NL MVP.
Going 7-for-48 with 20 strikeouts, a .167 batting average and hearing boos from the New York Yankee faithful. This isn’t what Giancarlo Stanton thought his first week in pinstripes would look like. But here we are, with Stanton struggling mightily and looking for answers.
One of those answers might be out of Stanton’s control and in the hands of first-year manager Aaron Boone. It’s time for Boone to seriously consider separating Stanton and Aaron Judge in the lineup. As the season has progressed, Boone has had Stanton in the number three slot in the Yankee lineup right behind Judge. While Stanton has crushed three home runs in that slot, he has looked overmatched at times.
The move to make here is to get the red-hot Didi Gregorius at-bats in the number three slot in the Yankee lineup to separate the two big power bats. By doing this, some pressure is taken off Stanton in what has already been a pressure-filled season. And in those high-pressure situations, Stanton could not deliver.
Some might feel that moving Stanton will hurt his confidence, but that might not be the case. Moving him might benefit him and the team much more should Boone make it.
Just looking at the small sample size we have, there were times that Orioles manager Buck Showalter intentionally walked Judge to get to Stanton. Clearly, this was the right move with Stanton struggling, striking out eight times against Baltimore.
By putting Gregorius in the three-hole, Boone can take advantage of his red-hot start while allowing Stanton to find his swing. Gregorius is hitting .375 with 10 RBI, coming up clutch on two separate occasions during the most recent homestand. Gregorius would also provide the appropriate amount of protection that Judge needs and isn’t getting from Stanton right now.
Now, this move also allows for Stanton to get his confidence back because he will still hit with men on base. Remember, there was once a time where the cleanup spot in a lineup was where your best hitter would hit. And if you are worried about protecting Stanton, you have Gary Sanchez right behind him. Although Sanchez might not be off to a great start himself, he is still a force in this lineup that teams are scared of.
Another option would be to flip Judge and Stanton in the lineup. Last season with Miami, Stanton primarily hit in the number two hole and we know how that worked out. Over nearly 500 at-bats in the two-hole, he hit .289 with 47 home runs, 97 RBI and a 1.067 OPS.
He can only benefit from having Judge behind him as protection. He’s going to see more pitches to hit as teams hope to avoid Judge. That could be all it takes for him to get his timing back.
It’s still early in the season for Boone, Stanton, and the Yankees. This is why it makes sense to tinker with the lineup now instead of doing it come July. Boone will be criticized no matter what lineup he puts out there if the losing continues, but tinkering in the month of April is much more acceptable than it is in the thick of a playoff race.
The beauty of this Yankee lineup is that no matter where you put Judge, Stanton, Gregorius, and Sanchez they will eventually produce. It’s time for Boone to take advantage of that and experiment with some different lineups.