The New York Yankees announced their lineup for Tuesday’s spring training game against the Philadelphia Phillies in the morning.
The batting order has new third baseman Josh Donaldson batting leadoff, followed by Joey Gallo, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, DJ LeMahieu, Aaron Hicks, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Marwin Gonzalez, and Kyle Higashioka.
Hicks in left, Judge in center, Stanton in right pic.twitter.com/SOhLU4dz2Q
— Talkin' Yanks (@TalkinYanks) March 29, 2022
That lineup is a clear sign that times have changed in baseball.
Once upon a time, perhaps not long ago, teams looked for contact and speed from their leadoff hitter.
Now, however, they are prioritizing patience, as they should.
A leadoff hitter getting a walk is one of the best things that can happen for a lineup: it doesn’t produce an out, it takes a few pitches off the opposing hurler, and it puts a man on base.
Donaldson Is A Great Fit As A Leadoff Hitter
Donaldson is one of the Yankees’ most patient hitters, and it helps that he is powerful, too.
Pitchers won’t be afraid to blow a fastball in the zone to a hitter with no power, but they will think twice before doing it with Donaldson.
As a result of his keen eye at the plate, Donaldson’s career OBP is a rock-solid .367.
Last year, Donaldson slashed .247/.352/.475 with a 13.6 percent walk rate: even at 36, he remains a threat to hit the ball out of the park and get on base with four bad pitches.
Having Donaldson as the leadoff hitter increases the odds of Gallo, Judge, and Stanton finding a man on base, and two-run and three-run homers are more valuable than solo dingers.
Donaldson has virtually no speed, but as far as lineup construction, it makes perfect sense for manager Aaron Boone and the Yankees to have him hit leadoff.
We will see if the experiment sticks.