Thought I’d take a look at our possible lineups for the 2015 season. Today I’ll start with the lineup versus right handed pitchers, or rhp’s. The majority of starters we’ll face are righties, so this is the lineup that’ll see the most time on the field, so it’s important to get it right.
1) Matt Carpenter 3B – I’d hate to mess with what works here. While our new acquisition Heyward has done well against righties for his career with a .281 average with a .374 OBP, Carpenter has done better, having a .301 career average versus righties with a .392 OBP. Carpenter may not have Heywards speed as Heyward stole 20 bases last year opposed to Carp’s five, but it should be noted Heyward stole 2 bases in 2013. He did steal 21 bases in 2012, but only nine in 2011 and 11 in 2010, so he hasn’t been a consistent base stealing threat. I’ll keep Carpenter in the top slot.
2) Jason Heyward RF – Heyward does fit well in the two-hole. He’s got that .374 OPB, the speed potential, as well as more power than Carpenter. Basically, he’s an all around player with room to grow to boot, since he’s only 25. Plus having two guys with over a .370 OBP at the top of your lineup will set things up nicely for the rest of the lineup.
3) Matt Holliday LF – Holliday does everything you want a number three hitter to do: hit for average, power (though that has been declining) and get on base. As long as he continues to hit at least 20 homers a year and maintains his average and plate discipline, he’ll fit nicely into the third spot.
4) Matt Adams – 1B “Big City” had a ton of success versus righties last year, and I think he’ll continjue to mash against them, which is why I slot him into the cleanup spot. His plate discipline could use a little work, as he only got on at a .349 clip versus righties, which isn’t bad, but it’s only .031 points higher than his .318 average against them, That .031 point differential isn’t good. Adams’ is still realtively young though at 26, so he still has time to develop. Plus, last year was his first year with over 500 at-bats, so he was still growing into his role as a regular. Given those things, look for better plate discipline from him this year.
5) Jhonny Peralta SS – Peralta set a team record for homeruns by a shortstop last year. He didn’t have nearly as good an OPB vs. righties (.319) as Holliday or Adams did though, so I think he fits best in the fifth spot, giving us a nice trio of hitters in the the 3-4-5 spots that each has the potential to hit over 20 homers.
6) Jon Jay CF – I realize that typically a hitter in this spot has more power than Jay does, however, given his success last year, I’m slotting him here hoping his high average and OBP will help him overcome the lack of power. Basically I’m hoping to cluster all of our hits together, thus producing more runs. Jay, who had a .283 avg with a .364 OBP versus righties last year, fits in well with that theory. I may not have been his biggest fan in the past, but I can’t argue with the success he had on offense last year. The only thing that concerns me about Jay on offense is the fact that he got plunked 20 times last year. Is he going to continue to get plunked at a high rate? If so, what’s the risk of injury? I’d hate to lose him for long chunks of the season, not to mention the whole season, just because he crowds the plate alot and doesn’t get out of the way of an errant fastball quick enough.
7) Yadier Molina C – Yadi had a down year last year. Even so, we had to scramble when he went down with an injury. I’m hoping he rebounds, but I’m going to err on the side of caution and start him off in the 7th spot.
8) Kolten Wong 2B – Wong is improving, showing a bit of pop last year with 12 homers and good speed with 20 stolen bases. His overall OBP though, was .292. Even in his best month with over 70 at-bats (July, when he hit .284) His OBP was only .319, not good enough for the top of the lineup. Wong’s plate discipline may improve, but for the time being, he fits best at the bottom of the lineup.
We have a pretty deep lineup this year, with our only weak spot being filled with the acquisition of Heyward. It’ll be a solid starting lineup against right handed starters, which, as i said, is what they’ll face the majority of the time. I’ll cover our lineup against left handed starts in my next post.
As always, thanks for reading.