Leading off for the Yankees ... Aaron Judge?

Boone says he's thought of batting order with slugger at the top

March 6th, 2018

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Leading off for the Yankees ... No. 99 ... .

It's about as far-fetched as some of Judge's home runs, but Aaron Boone won't rule out the possibility of the American League Rookie of the Year batting first, at least occasionally. In fact, the Yankees' manager isn't ruling out much of anything in terms of his batting order.

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"I wouldn't necessarily say it's likely, but something like that I would consider," Boone said. "I've thought about it."

Said Judge: "They haven't brought it up yet, but if they did, I'd just roll with it."

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At 6-foot-7 and 282 pounds, and having led the AL in home runs (52) and strikeouts (208), Judge doesn't exactly fit the mold of a leadoff hitter. Then again, he walked 127 times last season and had a .422 on-base percentage.

"You can shuffle this lineup up and put 'em anywhere and it's going be a good lineup," Judge said. "For me, I don't really care who's in front of me or behind me. Last year I was lucky enough for the majority of the year to have [Brett Gardner] hitting in front of me, and he was on base a lot. So that was always nice."

Boone has been considering his batting order and its possibilities.

"I'm not obsessed with it, but it's something that I'm constantly flirting with," he said. "Every now and then I start daydreaming a little bit about what makes the most sense, even like how to set it up down in the order."

One conclusion he has reached is the advantage of slipping in a left-handed hitter between Judge and , as he did for Tuesday's Grapefruit League win over the Tigers. Judge batted second, followed by Greg Bird and Stanton.

If Judge were to lead off, it would probably be against a left-handed pitcher, with Gardner -- the Yankees' regular leadoff hitter -- out of the lineup.

Judge, who was just trying to make the roster at this time last year, says he hasn't had much time to think about his big rookie year.

"I didn't reflect too long," he said Tuesday. "Even during the season I started thinking about the goals I was going to have for next year, stuff I needed to work on, stuff I needed to improve on.

"We went pretty far in the playoffs. A lot of other teams had been done for a while, so from there I couldn't reflect for too long. I had to get going."

He did reflect on certain statistics. When a writer pointed out that Judge hit only .153 against sliders, he said: "No one really has a good average against sliders. I think around the league it's around .200. My job is to hit the bad sliders. For me it's just pick out the mistakes, you're not going to hit a good slider."