Charlie Manuel frequently makes poor strategic decisions. The 11-million dollar scoreboard in left field would probably do a similar job. We guarantee a post analyzing Manuel's decisions for every Phillies game. Please click on our aliases below to email us.
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Here's what the lineup will be:
1) Why Ruiz should bat first:
Andy Reid could have Juan Castillo boot the opening kickoff in the first regular season game in September, and it would cause less of a reaction than if Charlie Manuel batted Carlos Ruiz leadoff in the nonsensical Opening Deck Series they have at CBP (which exists solely to scam partial-season ticket-holders out of an actual game). Actually, that's probably not true, and it's not because Reid has finally learned to defer the opening coin toss. I mean, if Andy Reid did something half-as-dumb as consistently burying your HIGHEST on-base-percentage batter in the 8-seed (even though his stats in the 6th and 7th lineup slots are significantly better), while the actual leadoff batter has a sub-.330 career OBP, his body would be somewhere in the Schuylkill River. Carlos Ruiz had a .371 OBP in a "down" offensive season last year, and his power numbers will benefit without a pitcher on deck.
1a) Why Ruiz won't bat first:
He's a catcher with below average foot-speed, which means he couldn't fit the cliche as the "spark in the lineup." Instead, we'll keep him in the 8th slot, which makes him more likely to bat in a GIDP-situation than if he is leading-off/batting behind the pitcher. Completely logical. Oh, and he'll "clog the bases," which is my least favorite baseball cliche, at least at this moment. What does that even mean? What type of ball does Utley have to put in play that would make it possible for Utley to get to second without Ruiz getting to third from first? Does any ball-in-play open up that possibility, and if so, how often would that occur? My guess is maximum once-per-year.
2) Why Utley should bat second:
He has the highest career-OBP on the team, he's fast enough to beat-out potential double plays when the QUINTESSENTIAL TWO-BATTER Polanco would be thrown out by 5 steps, and he can steal bases when he is on first with one out (even if he opens up first base with a steal, the opposition will not pitch around Victorino since Howard is on deck).
2a) Why Utley will not bat second:
"Utley is a 3-hitter when he's going good." - Charlie Manuel, 10 million times in his life. Also, the Phillies, like most other teams, don't realize that batting your best hitter third is counterproductive. He gets fewer PAs than the 2-batter, and he bats with the bases empty and 2 outs, the lowest-leverage situation, significantly more often than the 4-batter. I don't know about you, but if I were forced to choose between Utley and Howard at the plate against a random pitcher, I'd choose the former.
The 3rd batter should be the worst out of your 2-3-4 batters.
3) Why Victorino should bat 3rd:
See the above sentence. If it's perfectly acceptable to bat Victorino 2nd and Utley 3rd, then it should be even more obvious that Utley should be 2nd and Victorino 3rd. Victorino is fast enough to stay out of double plays with Ruiz on first and 1 out, and you have a deadly double-steal combo with Utley/Victorino when Howard is at the plate against the shift (third baseman will be out of position).
The most important reason for Victorino batting third here is late-inning relief situations. It is simply imperative that you have Victorino, by far your best hitter against lefties, bat between your two most dominant lefty batters. This will simultaneously increase the number of PAs Victorino gets against lefties while increasing the number of PAs Utley and Howard get against righties. That is a good thing, and that is a good thing that will likely go unacheived by this team as long as Manuel is the manager.
3a) Why Victorino won't bat third:
"Utley is a 3-hitter when he's going good." And, when Utley isn't "going good," Pence will bat third. Hideous.
4) Why Howard should bat 4th:
Because Utley wouldn't be batting 3rd or 5th.
4a) Why Howard will bat 4th:
The term "clean-up hitter."
5) Why Pence should bat 5th:
Because out of the remaining options, Pence is the best batter, and he's not a left-handed batter behind Howard. The Pence trade, at the very least, guarantees that we won't be seeing too many lineups this year with three consecutive lefties (Ibanez will not be missed, other than the fact that he is a human who somehow resembles Nintendo's Yoshi).
5a) Why Pence will bat 5th:
The term "lineup protection." Not as bad as "clog the bases," but it's close.
6) Why Brown/Mayberry should bat 6th:
This is the most obvious platoon situation in the history of baseball, but the Phillies look like they will forgo it in favor of Laynce Nix, whose career OBP (.288!!!) is somehow worse than the spelling of his first name. You could amputate both of Brown's arms, and you would still have better left-field defense than the past 4 years as long as Mayberry started every other game and kept both arms for the entire season.
6a) Why Brown/Mayberry will not bat 6th:
Because the treatment of Domonic Brown since the Hunter Pence trade has been nothing short of embarrassing. Does anyone remember the last time the Phillies had a "plus-defender" in left field? Ron Gant? Was he even a good defender? Phillies fans lost their collective skulls after Brown butchered right field last season, writing him off as a bust quicker than Evan Turner, and the consensus seems to be that he needs another year in the minors to learn how to track fly balls.
Yeah, I'm fine with trading Ibanez's defense for Brown's, as long as Brown puts up something slightly better than Ibanez's sub-.290 OBP from last year. Brown is projected for a .345ish OBP this season, and, unlike most lefties on this roster, he can actually hit LHPs.
Domonic Brown will be my biggest complaint this season, by far.
7) Why Rollins should bat 7th:
Because he does not have the OBP to bat in the top half of the order, because he's still better than Polanco, and because he will be able to steal more at the bottom of the lineup than at the top. This does not even consider the possibility of offensive regression after signing a large contract.
7a) Why Rollins won't bat 7th:
Manuel's inane "he's our sparkplug" viewpoint combined with the severely flawed concept that speed is necessary for a lead-off man.
8) Why Polanco should bat 8th:
Because he is the Phillies' worst hitter in the lineup.
8a) Why Polanco won't bat 8th:
Because Manuel doesn't teach walks (see below), which means he probably doesn't realize Polanco is the Phillies' worst hitter in the lineup.
This will be a fun season.