Monday, April 25, 2005

The New Lineup

1. Clark - CF
2. Miller - C
3. Jenkins - RF
4. Lee - LF
5. Overbay - 1B
6. Spivey - 2B
7. Branyan/Helms/Cirillo - 3B
8. Hardy - SS

This lineup was devised by Ned Yost. Unlike most of Ned's moves this year, I actually agree with this one. Miller in the 2-spot is obviously odd, but he handles the bat well and has been getting on base at a .400 clip. The addition of an offensive catcher as competent as Miller could be the best move Doug Melvin has made thus far. Jenkins batting third is somewhat puzzling, but makes sense to the degree that he will see more fastballs, the only pitches he can somewhat hit, hitting in front of El Caballo. Lee in the cleanup spot needs no explanation, especially after his performance in yesterday's game against the Giants, and having Overbay behind him likely means he will be pitched around less. The move of Overbay to the 5-hole makes immense sense. He and Clark will almost undoubtedly be 1-2 on the team in OBP. The only hitter that leads off more innings than the fifth hitter is the leadoff man. Overbay is an excellent hitter in any situation, against any type of pitcher, and is well-equipped to hit anywhere in the order. Spivey's move to sixth was likely precipitated by his high K total to this point, but this seems like it will be a good spot for him, and maybe it will lead to Yost deciding against the hit-and-run and sac bunts he (over)used, to little effectiveness, with Junior hitting 2nd. Branyan's huge power is nothing but an asset, wherever he is used in the lineup. Hardy was likely going to hit 8th regardless of any reshuffling of the lineup, however he did hit 2nd on Saturday, which Ned said was likely to become commonplace by the end of the season. All-in-all, the new lineup has worked quite well, though it is impossible to tell if it had more to do with the rearranging of the hitters, or simply the hitters starting to hit.

I don't think I love catchers hitting 2nd in general, and Damian Miller is about the worst #2 guy I can think of. The only ones I can think of that did it to any success are Kendall and Biggio, and they both had more speed and better OBP than Damian ever has. It depends on what you need out of the 2 slot: usually you want a guy who can handle the bat so that you can run a bunch of hit-and-run plays. For some reason, catchers aren't usually that kind of guy; catchers are usually high strikeout guys, and about the worst thing a 2 guy can do at the plate is nothing. Damian Miller is a high strikeout guy: 4.1 PA/K career entering this year. Plus he hits into a lot of DPs.
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