Aaron Judge’s leadoff success gives Yankees something to consider


The Yankees’ 6-foot-7, 282-pound slugger has suddenly turned into their starting center fielder and leadoff man.

And Aaron Judge is thriving wherever the Yankees put him these days.

The MVP candidate has moved from right field to center for 12 of the Yankees’ last 16 games, proving to be plenty capable of roaming the middle of the outfield, and then spent the weekend batting leadoff in each of the last two games against the Cubs — in which the Yankees piled up 26 runs.

“He’s kind of, I think, enjoyed the leading off and playing center thing,” manager Aaron Boone said with a grin Sunday before the Yankees completed a sweep of the Cubs.

Boone does not appear to be married to the idea of Judge hitting leadoff, at least not yet, but the results are hard to argue. In five games in the leadoff spot this season, Judge is batting .368 with a 1.233 OPS, three home runs, six RBIs and six runs. He slugged two home runs out of that spot on Saturday, including a leadoff blast, and then went 3-for-6 on Sunday.

“I mean, I like him wherever he’s going to hit,” Boone said. “We’ve only done it a few times now, right? But [Sunday], I originally didn’t have him leading off, but once we had to move the lineup around a little bit, for me I like to create as much balance as I can. But certainly like him getting up there as many times as possible.”

The Yankees have used six different hitters in the leadoff spot this season, most frequently DJ LeMahieu (24 games), who fits the profile as someone who can get on base at a high clip (.349 OBP).

But Boone said a batter like Judge, who combines on-base skills with power, is “becoming more prototypical of a leadoff hitter,” citing Mookie Betts and George Springer.

Aaron Judge
Corey Sipkin

“It’s fun,” said Judge, who hit leadoff once (in 2019) before this season. “I don’t mind leading off. It doesn’t really matter if I’m leading off or hitting second. You got to keep your approach the same.”

Through 58 games, the pending free agent is batting .318 with an MLB-leading 24 home runs and a 1.077 OPS.

Aroldis Chapman (Achilles tendinitis) will throw another bullpen session on the field at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday.

Jonathan Loaisiga (shoulder inflammation) returned to the team on Sunday after tending to a family matter in Nicaragua. The Yankees planned to have him start a throwing program on Monday.

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