You’ve probably seen your fair share of lineup combinations by now, but this one will be a bit different. I’ll be looking at where each player hit the best depending on where they hit in the order. For example, was Max Kepler better when he was hitting lead off, or fifth in the order? Then I’ll construct a lineup based on who was the best at each spot (minimum 40 PA).
1st vs RHP:
- Luis Arraez: 46 PA, .409/.435/.500 (.935), 0.7 BB/K, 152 wRC+
- Max Kepler: 400 PA, .239/.325/.533 (.858), 0.6 BB/K, 120 wRC+
This one was tough because Arraez hit better, but I ended up going with Kepler due to sample size and Arraez could slide in somewhere else—that you’ll see.
2nd vs RHP:
- Jorge Polanco: 416 PA, .320/.393/.546 (.939), 0.7 BB/K, 145 wRC+
- Josh Donaldson: 144 PA, .262/.375/.500 (.875), 0.5 BB/K, 127 wRC+
Polanco is coming off an All Star season where hit hit second almost every game, and the stats show that. He stays.
3rd vs RHP:
- Nelson Cruz: 378 PA, .309/.381/.593 (.974), 0.3 BB/K, 153 wRC+
There wasn’t even anyone else who qualified to hit 3rd. Cruz takes it and the first three are very familiar.
4th vs RHP:
- Eddie Rosario: 406 PA, .273/.293/.505 (.798), 0.2 BB/K, 102 wRC+
- Josh Donaldson: 489 PA, .256/.376/.523 (.900), 0.7 BB/K, 132 wRC+
Donaldson hit extremely well in the cleanup spot for the Braves last season. Hit hit better than Rosario, and sadly for Eddie he didn’t really hit anywhere else in the order. This means he is likely out of the lineup.
5th vs RHP:
- Miguel Sano: 146 PA, .213/.315/.480 (.795), 0.3 BB/K, 106 wRC+
- Mitch Garver: 66 PA.305/.379/.661 (1.040), 0.4 BB/K, 168 wRC+
This is where the fun begins. Garver will take the fifth spot over Sano, pushing Miguel down a couple spots.
6th vs RHP
- Luis Arraez: 130 PA, .345/.385/.529 (.914), 1.3 BB/K, 139 wRC+
- Marwin Gonzalez: .250/.352/.414 (.767), 0.5 BB/K, 106 wRC+
Arraez could have been in the leadoff hole but that would mean no Kepler. I also took Arraez here because of the much larger sample size.
7th vs RHP:
- Miguel Sano: .259/.358/.605 (.963), 0.4 BB/K, 146 wRC+
- Ehire Adrianza: .231/.344/.288 (.633), 0.6 BB/K, 78 wRC+
Sano finally makes it in! He just barely beats out Adrianza to hit seventh in the order. Adrainza wouldn’t go away, though.
8th vs RHP:
- Ehire Adrianza: 50 PA, .326/.388/.581 (.969), 0.5 BB/K, 146 wRC+
- Jake Cave: 43 PA, .171/.326/.343 (.668), 0.4 BB/K, 85 wRC+
Neither of these two should be in the opening day lineup, but the rules are the rules. The other players to hit 8th were Schoop and Cron, and they are gone. The 8th spot goes to Adrianza.
9th vs RHP:
- Byron Buxton: 200 PA, .240/.293/.486 (.779), 0.3 BB/K, 99 wRC+
- Jake Cave: 45 PA, .308/.400/.487 (.887), 0.1 BB/K, 139 wRC+
Finally, the last spot goes to Jake Cave just like everyone expected. This means Buxton and Rosario did not make it. That’s just how the game goes.
Lineup vs RHP:
- Max Kepler, CF
- Jorge Polanco, SS
- Nelson Cruz, DH
- Josh Donaldson, 3B
- Mitch Garver, C
- Luis Arraez: 2B
- Miguel Sano, 1B
- Ehire Adrianza, LF
- Jake Cave, RF
Well, what do you think of this lineup? It’s definitely interesting and I had fun creating it so I’ll take it. I’ll do LHP soon.