As we all know, the Yankees finally brought back DJ LeMahieu on six year/$90 million deal. They will bring back practically the exact same lineup from 2020. While the offense has been great, it has often stalled at times. With LeMahieu officially back, the Yankees should consider moving the lineup around and putting him in a spot where he can be a bigger factor.
Moving Lemahieu to the three-hole in the lineup can help send the offense to another level. In 2019, LeMahieu drove in 102 runs and scored 109 times primarily batting leadoff. The 102 RBIs would have been tied for the most by a leadoff hitter all time, but DJ was not the leadoff hitter until mid-April 2019. Moving him down to the three-spot could increase that number by a lot and they could be in a better position to score while still having plenty of firepower behind him to drive him in.
How it would work
The Yankees would not have to change much with their lineup to make this work. Aaron Hicks could slide into the leadoff spot. Despite batting .225 in 2020, Hicks had a career high 19.4 BB%, .379 OBP and a .189 ISO. ISO measures how often a player will hit for extra bases. His OBP and ISO were on par with LeMahieu’s 2019 numbers, .375 OBP and .191 ISO.
Putting Hicks in the leadoff spot puts the Yankees in a similar position they would be in if DJ is leading off. Hicks will continue getting on base even if he’s not getting hits every at-bat. Despite not stealing bases often, he has decent speed, and he’s shown plenty of pop in his bat. In 2018, Hicks hit a career high 27 home runs which is one more than LeMahieu’s career-high he set in 2019. Hicks is in the best position in the leadoff spot due to his high BB% and ability to make the pitcher immediately work for their outs.
LeMahieu is a hit machine, moving him down gives him the opportunity to drive in Hicks and Judge, assuming Judge didn’t already hit a home run. LeMahieu had the 2nd lowest K% in 2020 among all qualified hitters. One problem the Yankees often faced in recent years was striking out in crucial situations with RISP. Having DJ in this spot gives the team the best opportunity to get a crucial hit instead of a strikeout we’ve seen so often. And right behind him awaits Voit/Stanton, so the number of runs LeMahieu scores should be similar to recent years.
Here’s what the lineup could look like:
Hicks is on base almost as often as LeMahieu, and LeMahieu would have more opportunities for even more clutch hits if he hit third. The Yankees offense has shown great potential but has come up short so many times. This tweak could help set them over.