Now that we know that Opening Day will not be until mid-May at the earliest (absolutely best-case scenario), guys such as Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and perhaps even Aaron Hicks have a shot at being ready and in the lineup for the first game of the season. Let’s say Judge and Stanton are healthy — here’s an idea about how the Opening Day defensive alignment could look like:
P: Gerrit Cole
C: Gary Sanchez
1B: Luke Voit
2B: DJ LeMahieu
SS: Gleyber Torres
3B: Gio Urshela
LF: Mike Tauchman
CF: Brett Gardner
RF: Aaron Judge
DH: Giancarlo Stanton
Since we don’t have that much to dissect baseball-wise at the moment, I thought it would be fun to see if I could make the best lineup from above with one caveat: everyone has to play a different position. By this I don’t mean that Gardner can play right field — it needs to be a position that is completely foreign to each player. To make things a little more rigid structured, I will be following the handedness rule (a left-handed thrower can only play outfield, first base, or pitch).
Let’s dive in.
The lefties: Tauchman and Gardner
Since Tauchman and Gardner are both outfielders, the only other positions they can play are first base and pitcher. For this, I looked at FanGraphs’ rARM, which accounts for outfield arm runs saved above average. Here are the results:
Career Innings Played
Since Gardner has a slightly better arm by this logic, I will put him on the mound and Tauchman at first base.
I am going to put Gerrit Cole at shortstop. I just think that if you’re paying a man $324 million, he should be able to do a lot of things for you. One of those things has to be being the captain of the infield, right?
That leaves us with holes at second and third. At third base, I am going to put Gary Sanchez. The reason is that he has a great arm that he shows off from behind the plate, so I believe that will transfer well to the hot corner. Last year, he had an average velocity of 87.7 MPH on his throws, good for fourth overall in the league. Plus, he has gotten better at his blocking, as he allowed only 7 passed balls over 742.2 innings in 2019 compared to 18 passed balls over 653.0 innings in 2018. All he has to do is knock the ball down and he will have plenty of time to get the runner.
At second base will be Judge. At 6’7” and 282 pounds, people often overlook his athleticism. I have no doubt that he would be able to apply that athleticism as a middle infielder. Can you image Judge and Cole turning smooth 6-4-3 double plays? I can.
By process of elimination, that means Stanton must be the catcher. I don’t know how I feel about that, but again, it was the only spot left for him. I am interested, however, to see what it would look like for the 6’6” Stanton to be crouched behind the plate receiving bullets from Gardy.
In center, I need someone with decent speed who can cover a lot of ground. None of the infielders fit that mold, but I think LeMahieu would be able to play center fairly well, because he can do everything well.
That leaves Voit, Torres, and Urshela. Since approximately 22 percent of his plate appearances have come as a DH, I won’t put Voit there. Instead, he will be my right fielder, since left fielders typically need to cover more ground at Yankee Stadium. His 25.8 feet per second sprint speed just won’t cut it in left.
As per my reasoning above, I will put the faster player between Torres and Urshela in left field. It was very close in 2019: Torres had a sprint speed of 26.5 feet per second while Urshela was at 26.3 feet per second. Miguel Andujar has looked fairly comfortable in left this spring and so I believe Torres can make a smooth transition to the outfield. By process of elimination, that means Urshela is the DH.
So here’s our new defensive alignment:
P: Brett Gardner
C: Giancarlo Stanton
1B: Mike Tauchman
2B: Aaron Judge
SS: Gerrit Cole
3B: Gary Sanchez
LF: Gleyber Torres
CF: DJ LeMahieu
RF: Luke Voit
DH: Gio Urshela
How would you rearrange this lineup? Or tell me how wrong I am @MToolsidas29.