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The strange experiment that Aaron Boone will be testing on Judge

Will it work?

Aaron Judge

Aaron Judge | AP

A .422 on-base percentage that ranked second in the American League last season has drawn the attention of Yankees manager Aaron Boone, who is wondering: could Aaron Judge be their best option in the leadoff spot?

Boone is giving the new-look lineup a whirl for Friday's Grapefruit League game against the Red Sox, trotting Judge out to set the table ahead of Giancarlo Stanton, Greg Bird and Gary Sanchez.

Judge said that he probably hit leadoff once for Linden (Calif.) High School, but not since.

"What do I think of a leadoff hitter? It's someone who gets on base," Judge said. "Starts the team. Gets things going. There's all different types of leadoff hitters."

 

Only Mike Trout of the Angels (.442) had a higher on-base percentage in the AL than Judge, who led the circuit in runs (128), homers (52), walks (127) and ranked second in RBIs (114) and slugging percentage (.627) en route to being named the unanimous AL Rookie of the Year Award winner.

The lineup could be a preview of how Boone intends to set his order for the season opener in Toronto on Thursday. Behind Judge, Stanton, Bird and Sanchez, Aaron Hicks, Didi Gregorius, Brandon Drury, Neil Walker and Brett Gardner round out the starting nine.

 

"I wake up and I'm hitting leadoff. It's just another day; no big deal," Judge said. "I think Gardy is batting ninth, too, so once the game gets going, he's still hitting in front of me. It's no different."

In 2017, Judge started 62 games batting third and 30 games hitting fifth, with 28 starts in the two-hole and 12 in the six-hole. He batted cleanup nine times, hitting seventh on six occasions and eighth on four occasions.

"I've never really thought about it, to be honest," Judge said. "I've never hit leadoff, I've never put much thought into it about how it's changed and evolved. You've got a guy like [Astros outfielder] George Springer, who can give you 30, 35 home runs a year. You've got him at leadoff, it's pretty impressive."

Bryan Hoch | MLB.com

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