Aaron Judge, Yankees leadoff hitter: The case is compelling

Imagine being a starting pitcher against the Yankees. Now imagine seeing that Aaron Judge is leading off.

First-year Yankees manager Aaron Boone is letting his imagination run, and that’s exactly what he sees: Judge as a table-setter.

Judge hit mostly second or third last season. A jump up to the 1-spot wouldn’t be that big a leap. The stats say it should work, too.

One of Cooperstown’s newest denizens was just 27 years old and had averaged 76 stolen bases with a .307 batting average from 1982-86. Yet, no teams other than the Expos made him an offer that included a raise over what he made in 1986. But because the point here isn’t to delve into the ugliness of collusion, we’ll just point out that Raines made a pretty spectacular return to the diamond.

In his first game back as a member of the Expos, Raines tripled off Mets starter David Cone in his first at-bat, walked and then stole second in the third inning, singled in the sixth and singled to lead off the ninth and came around to score. In the 11th, Raines put the exclamation point on his return: He smacked a grand slam off Jesse Orosco, giving the Expos a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

He may never have signed with the Royals had the team been able to lock up first baseman Eric Hosmer to a deal, but since the former No. 3 overall pick signed with the Padres, Kansas City had some money to burn.

The other candidate for the team’s title of best position player, and the reason Brinson is playing in right, Kiermaier is freaking good. He’s one of the few people you can call the best defender in the game and not get heat for it. Kiermaier’s defensive highlights are in heavy rotation on YouTube for a lot of people, and he’s an above-average hitter on top of that. The only knock on him is that he’s missed a decent amount of time with injuries over the past two years, but making a lot of diving catches on a field made of astroturf and concrete is going to do that to you. The sooner Tropicana Field gets handed over to a demolition company, the better.

Signed Wednesday by the Rays, Gomez provides yet another great outfield glove. He’s got a bit of pop in his bat, he loves to run wild on the bases, and he’s entertaining if nothing else.seahawks_029_5d99a80004baac3e-180x180