Line ‘em Up

Well I’ve been invited by Robbie to contribute and I figure the first official day of Spring Training is as good a day as any to contribute my first blog post. The recent news about Doc’s mentor is terrible; hopefully it’s not the kind of thing that will affect him on the field, but I think we all know Doc a little better than that.

Now, I can honestly say I find all this “news” about who’s arrived in camp and who hasn’t (not that I don’t find Frank Thomas’s bright orange shirt incredibly compelling) only moderately more interesting than all that PED bull, which is to say not a lick. It is worth noting that Chacin and Barajas are the only two players late for camp, given Sal’s recent complaints about losing his job and the fact that Gustavo’s expected to compete for that 5th spot – you’d think they’d be trying to make a good impression right about now, wouldn’t you? Well, being late for camp is better than getting arrested…

Anyways, I’m not here to discuss the latest Jays news in any kind of depth. What I was really looking to contribute today was to take another look at lineup construction from an incredibly unscientific perspective. (I don’t have the credibility to back this up, but I actually have a sniggling feeling that the notion of Overbay batting second grew out of a post I made at Batter’s Box about this time last year. Just saying…) As a devoted OOTP player and just general Jays obsessive, it seems the optimum time to throw ideas out there while Gibbons is still straddling the fence and the only other lineup out there (that I know of) is this terrific contribution from Southpaw, although there was a comment from Wilner about where to bat Rolen which Gibby had some fun with a while back.

Any reasonably detailed look at potential lineups from a fan’s perspective must of course take two key elements into consideration – how it should be constructed as opposed to how it might conceivably be constructed. So, for example, while I’m not a Eckstein-hater in general and don’t really have a problem with him batting leadoff, in theory I would consider other alternatives if it weren’t for the fact that it has been uncategorically stated that this will be the case.

So, at least versus righties, I’ve got Eck leading off. The number-two hole is an interesting one. My inclination, of course, is Overbay at 2, given that it was the role that I propagated last year and that he really didn’t get much of a chance to prove himself. I know the general consensus is that he bombed there before the injury, but really, it was two months, folks. Stairs or Rios slot in fairly well here too, but I’m expecting a decline from Stairsy (he doesn’t hit enough doubles anyway) and Rios…well, wouldn’t it be great if Rios could just take up the first three slots in the batting order? I mean, really, put Rios wherever you want. I’ll leave Overbay up there for now.

Number three comes with one big stinking caveat: not Wells. I’m not entirely sure where I stand on the issue of the real VW (is it the 2006 monster or the mediocrity from the year before that?), but I do know that watching him flail at high fastballs is possibly the most frustrating thing to endure as a Jays fan since Tony Batista left town. An argument could certainly be made for Rolen in this slot, but I’d like to get Rios as many at-bats as possible. I actually don’t mind Overbay as #3 and Rios as two, but I figure this is the more likely alignment.

That leaves Thomas, Rolen and Wells for 4-5-6. I imagine if Gibby were to go with the above 1-2-3, that the most likely alignment for the middle of the lineup would then be Thomas-Wells-Rolen, given that Hurt’s a “cleanup” hitter. The better alignment, I think, is actually Rolen-Wells-Thomas. I’m a big fan of high power/low OBP in the #5 slot and then slotting in OBP/speed guys at 6 and 7. And while Thomas might never steal another big-league base, you know he’s good for a .360 OBP and when I watched the Jays last year I know I for one did not see the masher we all wanted Thomas to be. He’s a big, slow, garbage hitter at this point – sort of a glorified Tony Batista with much better plate discipline. (Holy crap, did I just compare Frank Thomas and Tony Batista? Wow…)

As for the bottom of the order, well…line it up as you like. I like to split up those lefties, so I’d stick Stairs at 7, Hill at 8, and Zaun at 9. Come to think of it, I kind of like Stairs at 9 – it’s always nice to have a scary bat right before the order turns over. Really, though, the spot should go to the lowest OBP on the team, if only in order to maximize the number of times to order turns over at the beginning of the inning, and in that case that puts Zaun/Barajas at 9.

So…your 2008 Blue Jays lineup vs RHP:

1) Eckstein

2) Overbay

3) Rios

4) Rolen

5) Wells

6) Thomas

7) Stairs

8) Hill

9) Zaun

Versus lefties, slot in Barajas for Zaun, Reed for Stairs, swap Overbay and Hill and then Overbay and Johnson and you get:

1) Eckstein

2) Hill

3) Rios

4) Rolen

5) Wells

6) Thomas

7) Overbay

8) Johnson

9) Barajas

You could also drop Hill to #6 or 7 and move everyone else up a slot, but I’d kind of like to see how he fares in the #2 hole.

And there you have it – your 2008 lineups.

1 comment:

The Southpaw said...

I'm with you on the RH lineup, though it's a bit different from mine you argue it well.

On the LH variation, I would suggest that you look at Zaun's splits vs LHP - he's much better that way and I would never play Barajas vs a LH given Zaun's splits. Then, firing off that, if I'm gonna have Reed at the bottom of the order I'd flip him into the nine hole to restart the lineup one batter earlier.

Good post though, and thanks for the compliment!