With Bud Black busy eating burritos and drooling over Eckstein’s intangibles, I thought I’d give him some help with the state of the lineup and what he could to do make it better.
Last month, Black was pressed to name his batting order for this season, and we’ll forgive it because he was pressed. To further help bail Black out, I have come up with a proper batting order for the skip.
1. Everth Cabrera, SS
Don’t worry Bud, I’m not going to get all weird on you. The baseball constitution dictates that every team must utilize a fast player to leadoff (I think) and I will gladly go along with it. Everth is the fastest player on the team, but he can also get on-base, if only relatively so. Last year, he had an OBP of .342 with a walk rate of 10.5%, and most major projections see him keeping up his pace if not exceeding it. I can see questions arising regarding Cabrera’s age and lack of experience, but what could it hurt to challenge him?
2. Tony Gwynn, Jr./Scott Hairston, CF
AJ and Hairston, Sr. should see time in a platoon this year and they bring differing skill sets. Against right-handed pitching last year, AJ posted an OBP of .379. While his slugging was only .385, he still had a wRC+ of 118 in the split. At .378, Hairston has a similar OBP in his left-handed split, but his slugging was .543. During his previous stay, he was Adrian’s M&M buddy in the middle of the order, but another of my concessions to Bud is that one spot in the order is equal to one position on the field – the center fielders are hitting second. And with Hairston, the heart of the order could frequently find themselves at-bat with runners in scoring position, if not already in.
3. Chase Headley, 3B
If I didn’t put Headley in this spot, I would’ve put him at second. Not only do I value his OBP higher in the order, I don’t trust him hitting behind Adrian. Now that he’s back at third, Headley should hypothetically see an improvement in his offense: he’ll be able to concentrate more on his hitting as a result of concentrating less on his foreign position and he’ll be able to put back on the weight he lost to better run around the outfield. Add to that Headley’s hot-ish second half (.798 OPS) and there’s reason to have confidence in Headley.
4. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
5. Kyle Blanks, LF
Stay with me.
On one hand, I feel like there’s no explanation necessary. Last year, in 148 at-bats, Blanks hit 10 home runs with a wOBA of .372. Stretch that out over a full season and Blanks could hit more than 30 home runs. That would make Blanks only the second player to accomplish such a feat in Petco Park. This guy has prodigal power. But then those are the only 148 at-bats of Blanks’ career. He could still be a bust, or we could be lucky and he could just suffer through a sophomore slump but if it doesn’t work out, the team could still try Headley or Venable, or move Hairston to a more permanent position.
6. Will Venable, RF
I’ll let you know right now, the batting order gets pretty predictable from here on out. While I’m not a big believer in Venable, he has 20 homer potential and he’s left-handed, which only makes sense coming after the right-handed Blanks.
7. Nick Hundley, C
I’m not going to try to sell you on Hundley. It comes down to not being:
8. David Eckstein, 2B
I feel that it’d be better if I didn’t say anything at all.