Unorthodox but effective, Aaron Judge batting lead off has worked for Yankees

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Yankees Aaron Judge
New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge reacts in the dugout after scoring a run during the first inning of the team’s baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in New York.
AP Photo/Adam Hunger

It’s not too often that an MLB club will put its slugger at the top of the batting order, but the Yankees have had to do that with Aaron Judge more often than not recently. 

Going into the Bronx Bombers’ two-game set with the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday, Judge had been at the top of the Yankees batting order in five of their last nine games. That included three straight times with the Tampa Bay Rays in town over the weekend. 

A lot of that has had to do with the fact that New York has been so banged up in the second half of the season. Anthony Rizzo is still out, Andrew Benintendi and Matt Carpenter are still sidelined and there is no guarantee DJ LeMahieu is back by the time the Yankees end their road trip. 

That forced Aaron Boone to think outside the box and move Judge up to the top spot in the order. In the two most recent games Judge went 4-for-8 with two runs and two RBIs, along with the Yankees combining to score 20 runs. 

And the Yankees offense, more often than not, has been productive in the 14 games that Judge has been the lead-off hitter. They’ve posted a record of 9-5 when it has occurred and the Yankees have scored a combined 85 runs against opponents. 

For now, it seems like it will be a move that Boone utilizes since it has worked and the Yankees’ options are limited. 

“We’ll see,” Boone said Sunday. “As we get more guys back, not necessarily. But perhaps here in the short term.”

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Judge being used as the two-hitter has been the norm for the Yankees this season, which could be debated how well that has worked. Stanton took the two spot in the lineup over the weekend and fared well for himself similar to Judge. 

How this plays out the rest of the season and into the postseason will be something to watch for the Yankees. New York pulled itself out of the weeds a little bit with two convincing wins over the Tampa Bay Rays and could keep the positive vibes going with a pair of wins over the Red Sox.