Boone prefers LeMahieu as leadoff hitter, keeps Verdugo as backup

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After experimenting with 10 different leadoff hitters in 2023, Boone is reportedly leaning toward DJ LeMahieu for the role this season. He hoped that LeMahieu’s consistent on-base skills can set the table for the slugging prowess of Juan Soto and Aaron Judge to unleash a potent offensive flow.

Boone expressed his thoughts on the leadoff spot, stating that he hopes LeMahieu fills the role, but also considers Alex Verdugo as a potential option. He highlighted the importance of settling the leadoff spot for the team’s offensive potential, especially with the middle of the lineup revolving around Aaron and Juan, which he believes has the potential to be deep and special.

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AP

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone is bullish on his team’s offensive potential for the upcoming season, citing offseason improvements to depth and balance. He even believes “an elite offense” is a “reasonable expectation.”

Boone backs LeMahieu to rebound

One key to achieving this goal will be LeMahieu’s continued resurgence. The 35-year infielder struggled early in 2023 with a lingering toe injury, batting a meager .220 with a .643 OPS before the All-Star break. However, Boone sees promise in LeMahieu’s late-season improvement, fueled by hitting coach Sean Casey’s guidance.

Over the final 60 games, LeMahieu soared to a .273 average and .809 OPS, suggesting he may have overcome his earlier woes and regained his pre-injury form.

Boone remarked that any difficulties experienced by LeMahieu in recent years were primarily due to physical issues. He emphasized that DJ is currently in his best physical condition in the past couple of years. Boone believes that having a healthy and productive leader in the lineup would greatly benefit the team offensively.

Should LeMahieu effectively secure his role at the top of the lineup, Boone may opt to position Soto, Judge, and Anthony Rizzo in the subsequent slots, followed by a combination of Gleyber Torres, Verdugo, and Giancarlo Stanton, and then Jose Trevino or Austin Wells along with Anthony Volpe.

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AP

This lineup is anticipated to be more robust, boasting a greater offensive threat from both left and right sides of the plate compared to recent seasons. Despite not being renowned for his athleticism, LeMahieu has been actively participating in workouts in Tampa throughout the offseason, including engaging in the Yankees’ running program.

Boone noted a noticeable improvement in the veteran’s mobility, indicating positive developments in his conditioning and readiness.

Boone observed that there has been an increase in explosiveness in the batting cage for LeMahieu. He noted that this change is quite noticeable to him. Boone mentioned that DJ began addressing certain aspects of his game in the latter part of the previous season, resulting in a stronger performance during that time. However, he emphasized that DJ is currently in a significantly better physical condition than he has been in the past couple of years.

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