Welcome back to our deep dive into Kevin Cash’s lineups for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2020. In the first part of this series, we took a look at the lineup decisions Cash was making versus right- and left-handed starters. Today, we’ll take a look at where in the lineup Cash is slotting his many options. Lineup data as of Sunday, August 23
Through 29 games, Kevin Cash has managed to create 29 different lineups. On the one hand, that’s probably not too surprising; the Rays are a modern, flexible team and lineup construction is not the copy-and-paste affair it once was. On the other hand, that’s still pretty wild.
There are certainly staples in the lineup — the starting catcher batting ninth; Yandy Diaz hitting near the top of the lineup — but Cash has certainly used the flexibility of this roster to create matchups he believes will lead to the most success.
Thanks to DRB graphics creator supreme, Dominik Vega, here’s a visual of the lineup breakdown, sorted by position.
Last time we looked at the 2020 roster platoons, it was chaos looking at the lineups. It’s still clearly a flexible squad, but there are some patterns emerging. Here are our observations:
- As noted at the start, the back of the lineup is pretty locked in as that day’s starting catcher, and given the combined 48 wRC+ the Rays have gotten from that position so far this season (24th in baseball), that’s a smart decision.
- The second and third spots in the lineups are the next most frequented by one position/player, with Lowe manning the number two spot, and Yandy manning the three hole. Lowe is totally unsurprising given that the number two spot is where the metrics should you should put your best bat, and, well, Lowe is baseball’s best bat these days.
- I’m a little more surprised with Diaz being such a frequent visitor to the third spot in the order, but not because he hasn’t been hitting. With his recent hot streak, his slash line is up to .315/.442/.413 (147 wRC+). More so, that OBP screams leadoff, whether it’s a righty or a lefty on the mound. I’d love to see Diaz (whose OBP is even higher versus righties than lefties this season) in the leadoff spot regardless of the pitcher these days.
- That being said, you can’t go wrong with Austin Meadows, the current most common leadoff hitter, starting things off. Primarily, it allows Cash to avoid his dreaded L-L-L configuration 2-3-4 in the lineup.
- Kiermaier (eighth), Choi (fourth), and Adames (seventh) are the other three Rays to have made double-digit appearances in the same lineup slot. Given the fact that Choi is rocking a wRC+ of 85, while Adames is barreling everything in sight, don’t be shocked if those start to flip sooner than later. At least, ideally, that would be the case.
- The middle of the lineup is where there is the most churn. Given that the Rays, for all their strengths, lack one distinct power bat, this isn’t too shocking. It’s kind of like how they have used their DH for semi days off in recent years instead of your typical power bat.
- Of the players to appear the most all over the lineup, no one can match Joey Wendle’s seven different lineup spots—which is not at all surprising—but Yoshi Tsutsugo and Hunter Renfroe can each claim six different slots which speaks to their relative flexibility as players.
Now on to the exciting part.
Dom, once again, is the effing man, so enjoy this really cool interactive chart breaking down Cash’s lineups by lineup spot instead of by player.
Hopefully, in a somewhat more manageable 60-game season, we can update this a couple times if y’all find this interesting. Sadly, it won’t come through on mobile, but trust me it’s worth leaving your phone (and also gets stripped from apple news / google amp streams), so go to your computer for it!