Part of the fun of baseball is that fans think they know more than the managers, and we are no exception to that rule.
In fact, many of the sports blogs out there are based on this premise.
However, that doesn’t deter us from taking our turn at playing manager of the Cleveland Indians in terms of making out a lineup.
The belief here is that the team’s best hitters should hit in the middle of the lineup, in the 3-4-5 spots, so we disagree a bit with SS Asdrubal Cabrera hitting second.
Cabrera is not a particularly high on base percentage hitter, so we would move him down in the order.
So, we would put Shin-Soo Choo in the third spot with Carlos Santana hitting clean up and Cabrera hitting fifth.
Choo is the team’s best hitter when healthy, with a lifetime .291 batting average and 20 home run power. He also draws a good share of walks which gives him a good on base percentage.
Santana also walks a lot, but doesn’t have as good of a batting average. He also has more power potential than Choo, with the potential of a 30 homer season.
Cabrera has good pop as well, not just last year, but remember he had 42 doubles in 2009, but doesn’t have the on base statistics of Choo or Santana.
At the leadoff spot, Michael Brantley should get the benefit of the doubt, despite a lifetime on base percentage (.316) that doesn’t fit the profile of someone who hit in that spot.
Brantley does work counts and doesn’t seem to have a problem hitting with two strikes on him. However, he does need to get on base more often to be a factor at the top of the order.
In the #2 spot, Casey Kotchman is a better fit than he would be in the middle of the lineup. The first baseman has a .336 on base percentage for his career, and hasn’t knocked in more than 60 runs in a season since 2008.
If Kotchman can hit in the .280 range, then he should have a OBP of around .350, which would make him a guy who can get on base for Choo, Santana, and Cabrera.
Having him bat 6th or 7th makes the player preceding him in the batting order a prime candidate to get pitched around.
For whatever reason, Acta likes guys that can’t get on and have little pop in the #6 hole. He hit Orlando Cabrera there a lot when he was on the roster.
Travis Hafner should hit 6th. He’s still fairly productive when he plays, with an OPS over 800 the last three seasons, but he can’t play everyday. And that’s why Pronk should no longer hit in the middle of the order.
Following Hafner would be Jason Kipnis. Kipnis could also hit second, but seventh is a better spot because he can drive the ball, and also, as a young player, it takes some pressure off of him.
Kipnis could wind up in the middle of the order someday if his success in the minor leagues translates to the majors.
The 8th hole goes to the leftfielder, who ever that may be, while 3B Jack Hannahan hits ninth.
If Shelley Duncan is the DH vs. lefties, then he takes Hafner’s spot following Cabrera, and if Jose Lopez makes the team and plays 3B against southpaws, he hits ninth.
If Santana is the DH against left-handers, then Lou Marson hits ninth and everyone else slides up a spot.
Of course, if the Indians hit like they have in Arizona this spring, it doesn’t matter in what order they will hit, they will have trouble scoring runs.
If they don’t score runs, this will be a very frustrating team to watch, even for Manny Acta.