The Yankees continue to win with a combination of solid offense and strong pitching. But in the last several games the offense has exploded and it feels like the entire lineup is producing. That led me to wonder where the production in the lineup has been coming from this season. The short answer is that it’s kind of been all over the place. That’s probably a good thing. Let’s look at which batting order positions have produced the best, in the middle, and the worst.
The Best Production
The 2nd, 7th, and 3rd batting order positions have produced the most so far this season. Each of the positions has at least 10 home runs and an OPS over .830. It doesn’t take much digging to understand why this is. Your 2nd and 3rd batting order positions should be two of your biggest offensive producers. That’s often where your best players are hitting. The 2-hole this season has been filled with either Aaron Judge or Luke Voit for the most part, who each have an OPS of .925 and .869 in that position. The 3-hole has mostly held Gary Sanchez and Voit. Sanchez has a booming 1.158 OPS across 11 games in that spot while Voit has an .825.
What you wouldn’t typically figure to be a high production spot in the batting order is the 7-hole, but the Yankees have benefited from some underrated players performing superbly, in Clint Frazier and Gio Urshela. Frazier has an OPS of 1.084 across 8 games in that spot while Urshela holds a .957 OPS. A number of other players have played a few games there with an OPS of at least .880 including Gleyber Torres, Voit, Brett Gardner, and DJ LeMahieu.
The Middle Ground
The 8th, 1st, and 5th batting order positions all fall into the middle category. To be fair, the 8th batting order position is performing somewhat better than the other two, but I wanted to split these categories up into thirds so here we are. The 8th position has an OPS .802 while the 1st position is hitting .753 and the 5th position just .739.
If you’re wondering where the production is coming from out of the 8-hole, it’s actually been a pretty fair mix of players. Seven of the eleven different players that have hit out of that spot have an OPS over .900. The six home runs that have been hit out of that position have all come from different players.
The leadoff spot has been split almost exclusively between LeMahieu and Gardner. While LeMahieu has an OPS of .814, Gardner is hitting a paltry .678 out of the leadoff spot. Though there’s been some power from him, his batting average out of that spot is just .185, contributing significantly to the low OPS.
Now, you would think the 5-hole would be performing better given that Torres, who has the most time in that spot, has an OPS of 1.004. But there are a number of other players will a handful of games that haven’t hit worth a lick there. Those include Kendrys Morales, Greg Bird, Cameron Maybin, Mike Tauchman, Miguel Andujar and even LeMahieu.
The Lineup Holes
These are the spots that aren’t producing much at all. The 4th, 6th, and 9th batting order positions are all hitting poorly with an OPS of .733, .712, and .654.
The biggest surprise here is obviously the cleanup spot. Though Sanchez now holds that position and has an OPS of .975 there, the overall stats get dragged down by poor performances from Torres, Frazier, and Andujar. Odds are that position will start to even out and move towards the top the longer that Sanchez is there.
The 6-hole hasn’t really had a regular player in it, with 14 different players sliding into the spot but none of them having more than 7 games started. Because of that, even with strong performances from over-.800 OPS players in that position like Torres, LeMahieu, and Frazier, so many other replacement players have brought the overall OPS down. Guys like Tauchman, Maybin, Mike Ford, and even Urshela all have an OPS in that position under .690.
The 9-hole is the worst position on the team, which shouldn’t come as a big surprise. In fact, this is most likely the weakest batting order position on most teams. It’s more understandable when you realize that this factors in the handful of pitchers hitting in this spot in NL parks. But it’s probably even worse on this Yankees team given the number of injuries they’ve had, meaning their original starting nine have almost never played there. The one player that did perform admirably out of that slot: Tauchman, with an OPS of 1.159 across 11 starts. This is a stark contrast to last year when the Yankees had Gleyber in the 9-hole for 52 games, where he posted an .888 OPS.
It’s looking like as regular starters begin to get healthy and settle into their respective batting order positions, the OPS numbers should start to improve overall, while also leaning more towards the top hitting spots in the lineup. If that’s not the case, then Aaron Boone should consider moving around the better hitters into more useful batting order positions to maximize his lineup’s ability to score runs.