Create Your Own Batting Order

US PRESSWIRE

A little rosterbation to whet your appetite.

Maddon has a knack for using 150 different lineups in a season - but let's try this anyway. Opening day is almost here, and it's time to build a batting order.

Let's review the theories, for clarity's sake. First, there is the classic version of the batting order, where the lead off guy is a speed demon, the second guy is a contact hitter, third is your second best hitter, fourth is the best hitter, fifth is the next best hitter, seven and eight are mediocre, and ninth is hopefully fast. By the numbers, you get: 3, 4, 2, 1, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.

Second, there is Tom Tango's saber-friendly method from The Book. The key is for your best man to bat second, regardless. The lead off guy is your best guy at getting on base, and then you order the rest of the line up by talent with the exception of the third and fourth slot, which is reserved for power hitters. This method gives you: 1, 2, 4, 5, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9.

The truth lies somewhere in the middle, and today is a great day for predicting the ideal lineup.

The Roster

C: Jose Molina, Jose Lobaton
1B: James Loney, Shelley Duncan
2B: Kelly Johnson, Ben Zobrist
SS: Yunel Escobar, Sean Rodriguez
3B: Evan Longoria, Ryan Roberts
OF: Ben Zobrist, Desmond Jennings, Matt Joyce, Sam Fuld

DL: Luke Scott

Joe Maddon has already confirmed that Desmond Jennings will be handed the lead-off position this year, and the Rays are sure to be using their platoons in full strength.

In a strict platoon setting, James Loney and Sam Fuld should not be facing any more than right handed pitching, with an argument to be made for Luke Scott and Matt Joyce to only face righties as well. Prepared to face left handed hitting will be S-Rod and Ryan Roberts.

As mentioned this morning, Duncan is among the most neutral players in the game, but as a bench player he will likely find most of his playing time against southpaws. He is also expected to be demoted with the return of Luke Scott, or if Sean Rodriguez is optioned instead, with the call up of Wil Myers.

An idea floated by many commenters has been to play Roberts at 3B against lefties, and move Longo to the DH position to save his legs, and this plan has merit.

What say you? Will Matt Joyce get full playing time? Will Duncan or Fuld get the nod in your lineup against RHP? Post your lineups and reasoning below.

Projected Lineups

As a starting point, here is MLB Depth Charts’ projected lineup for the 2013 Rays:

vRHP

vLHP

Jennings, CF

Joyce, DH

Longoria, 3B

Zobrist, RF

Escobar, SS

Loney, 1B

Rodriguez, 2B

Johnson, 2B

Duncan, 1B

Molina, C

Lobaton, C

Fuld, LF

Roberts, 3B

Depth Charts doesn’t provide a lineup vs LHP, so you can substitute as you please, but I’d expect S-Rod to bat decently high, given his near .370 OBP vs lefties.

And here is my own lineup:

vRHP

vLHP

Jennings, CF

Jennings, CF

Zobrist, RF

Zobrist, RF

Longoria, 3B

Longoria, DH

Joyce, LF

Rodriguez, 2B

Escobar, SS

Escobar, SS

Loney, 1B

Roberts, 3B

Duncan, DH

Duncan, 1B

Molina, C

Lobaton, C

Johnson, 2B

Joyce, LF

The addition of Scott would bump the order down after Escobar vRHP, removing Duncan. I’m a fan of batting catchers eighth, keeps them slightly ahead of the top of the order, which can cause conflicts in moving the runners. Much like Maddon played BJ at the end of the order to put an athlete on the back end during periods of development, I think it’s also important to have a player who can run on the back end.

The Matt Joyce experiment against LHP deserves another run in 2013, but there’s little in the way of splits to indicate he deserves any higher in the lineup. Once Wil Myers is promoted, however, all bets are off.

You can find Michael's rosterbation notes on ZIPS and PECOTA here.

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