Emmett’s St. Louis Cardinals Lineup: ‘Mike, try this batting order hack’

ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 15: Interim manager Mike Shildt #83 of the St. Louis Cardinals takes the field to present his line-up card prior to a game against the Cincinnati Reds at Busch Stadium on July 15, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 15: Interim manager Mike Shildt #83 of the St. Louis Cardinals takes the field to present his line-up card prior to a game against the Cincinnati Reds at Busch Stadium on July 15, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /
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Getting starters for the St. Louis Cardinals in the right batting spot is a difficult task. That being said, it is the deciding factor for playoffs or not.

The St. Louis Cardinals have a lot of talent being brought to the table in 2019. This is a fact that cannot be denied. With the addition of Paul Goldschmidt, the potential for this team’s success in the coming year was raised considerably.

Lineup construction is something that Mike Shildt could have a lot of fun with this year as he is entering his first full year as the leader of this team. The top of the order is more or less set but beyond that, where Shildt employs bench players and starters is going to be fun to watch.

This is my opinion on what I believe the St. Louis Cardinals should trot out on Opening Day. Others have written on their batting order ideas, but  in order:

1. Matt Carpenter

In the immortal words of singer Van Morrison: “Why ask why?  It just is”.  Carpenter performs better as a leadoff hitter. And when he performs well, he is really well … er good. He carried the team on his back for much of June and July last year. I also like his capacity to hit a leadoff dinger.  Nothing says, “we got this!” like the first batter of the game trampling down four bases to get them broken in for his ‘mates.

2. Yadier Molina

Because he is a proven great, if slightly under-rated, hitter.  And so he deserves to hit No. 2.  But as the captain of Spaceship Cardinal, I want him to stare down the alien in the first inning to get the cut of his jib. It may also be a good idea for Yadi to get his at-bat out of the way so that he can get his catching gear on and maybe go over a few last minute notes with the pitcher (away games only).

3. Paul Goldschmidt

This is what we are paying him $144.5 million for: hitting. So let’s get him up there, first inning, for sure. Hopefully with Yadi on second and Carpenter on third waiting for Goldy to drive them in. I also like the fact that when you bat Carpenter, Molina and Goldschmidt in the first frame, you basically have The Franchise Defined.

4. Marcell Ozuna

Somehow the meme of Ozuna batting cleanup has developed. And I’m OK with that. He has the career numbers to back it up, even if last year’s oWAR was the lowest of his four (qualifying) seasons.

What Ozuna does do is strike fear when he makes contact. This, I believe is the classic profile of the number four-hitter. Better than not striking fear. Having a slap-and-Judy hitter in cleanup… even if he hits for higher average, does not feel right. Ozuna and Goldy are the only two that fit the bill in the present starting lineup. In order to get Goldy more at-bats, he should hit third.

5. Paul DeJong

A legitimate power hitter, Paul DeJong hit 25 and 19 HRs in his first two years in the big leagues; all without even getting a qualifying number of plate appearances in either year. I think he can drive in some runs batting 5th.

6. Harrison Bader

Harrison Bader led the team in stolen bases last season, his rookie year. He has now followed that up by leading in Spring Training with five (tied with Drew Robinson). In one spring game, he put on a particularly impressive performance stealing three times. He may be blossoming into a legitimate stolen-base threat.

Batting him eighth, when the pitcher could just as easily be bunting him over and is not going to drive him in, likely, and he is not going to score from second (if he gets there) with two outs, is a waste of that stolen-base potential.

7. Kolten Wong

I like having two left-handed hitters following Bader so that if he gets on base, the catcher’s vision of what he’s doing down at first will be somewhat screened. (I realize Fowler will not be exclusively batting left-handed, but indeed most of the time.) And the catcher throwing down to second base to attempt to throw Bader out stealing will be somewhat blocked by having a left-handed hitter up there.

Bader and Wong have the lowest career averages of any player in the starting lineup, and should, by rights, be batting towards the end of the lineup. Wong has been showing signs of greatness for stretches and hopefully, this year can be another step forward.

8. Dexter Fowler

I like Fowler hitting eighth for a couple of reasons. First of all, batting eighth, when your two lowest batting-average hitters are ahead of you, will mean that you may have to start a rally again by yourself. This is what Fowler did when he was a lead-off hitter for the Chicago Cubs. Eighth place in the lineup can be like a “second lead-off man”.  Which is probably why Mike Shildt wants to bat Bader there (but I think he is wrong, for the reasons stated above).

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Since this is sort of a make-or-break year for Fowler, I think it would be good for him to have as little pressure on him as possible. Being the eighth-place hitter is the lowest-pressure batting position available. I also do not like the pressure of dropping him from, say, second place in the order, just because of a slight dip in his batting average.

Last year, between two managers, he batted all over the lineup, like a stock market graph. That was probably not good psychologically for Fowler proven by his lack of performance last year. Locked in at eighth, he can get settled in for the long haul.

Lack of lefty pitching is no reason for concern. dark. Next

I realize some of these points are minor, and batting order is fairly meaningless anyway because you cannot predict hitting situations in baseball with any reliability. That being said, lineups are fun to play around with and there is no real “right or wrong.” This is my take, what’s yours?