Looking Ahead: Who Bats 2nd?
By Hayden Kane
The 2012 roster for the Colorado Rockies still has a lot of fluidity. Most of the spots in the lineup that are set…with two obvious holes. As I understand it, here is the opening day batting order:
- Dexter Fowler (CF)
- Carlos Gonzalez (LF)
- Troy Tulowitzki (SS)
- Michael Cuddyer (RF) – and sometimes 6th?
- Todd Helton (1B) – and sometimes 5th?
- Ramon Hernandez (C) – and also the other catcher?
So the unknown spots in the batting order are 2nd and 8th. Using examples from 2011 rosters, here are some of the options the Rockies have for the vacant #2 spot in the lineup moving forward:
Option 1 – Big hulky guy (relatively speaking)
Examples: Corey Hart, Chase Utley, Aaron Hill, Neil Walker
- While I managed to grab three National League examples, this type of hitter usually fits more of an American League lineup. On the one hand a beefy hitter in this spot lengthens the lineup and does not allow the opposing pitcher to settle in early in games. On the other hand it would limit the options as far as situational at-bats (hit and run, bunts, etc.) in a division (the NL West) where runs can be hard to come by.
Option 2 – Contact hitter, guy who handles the bat well, (slap hitter?)
Examples: Jonathan Herrera, Ryan Theriot, Darwin Barney, Mark Ellis, Freddy Sanchez
- If only Herrera could have sustained his early success last season. Ellis might have fit this role if Jim Tracy had not been forced to move him around the lineup so much in the second half of the season. The benefit is the ability to move runners for your big run producers to have more RBI opportunities. The disadvantage is the lack of pop late in games and the inability to match teams who score runs in bunches.
Option 3 – the other hitter that fits nowhere
Examples: Casey Blake, Edgar Renteria
- It is not clear to me where Casey Blake fits if he makes the team as a third baseman, but here’s hoping he would not bat 2nd. When a guy like Blake is stuck 2nd, that usually means that he should bat 8th but that spot is already occupied by a hitter who has no good place in the lineup (this usually occurs on sinking teams with struggling lineups). I do not mean to say that Blake was a bad signing. I do mean to say that he is potentially a misfit in a contending team’s lineup. I do not want to see the Rockies asking something of him that does not fit his skills at age 38.
- In the pitching happy National League West, the Rockies enter 2012 with more questions than answers on their pitching staff. Knowing that, they can gain an edge by building a strong offense. One of the keys for this to happen is a #2 hitter that fits. This can work with Option 1 or Option 2. This cannot work if the hitter is misplaced there or does not fit one of those two roles. With Option 1 the team can mash its way through the division. With Option 2 they can produce offensively by being the most opportunistic.
It seems that a team that has shaky pitching will benefit more from a stable batting order. Filling the #2 spot will prove to be a key step in that process for the 2012 Colorado Rockies.