It appears that Bud Black has taken a liking to the Colorado Rockies lineup that features Raimel Tapia in the leadoff spot … as he should. Tapia brings that element of speed that was missed a lot last season, as Charlie Blackmon started saving his legs a little.
But, with a new lineup, comes new batting spots, and in a game that very much deals with the mental aspect of things, it begs the question … will everyone be able to produce the same from these different spots? Here are three things that will need to happen for this new potential shift to the lineup to be a success.
1. Guys are going to have to adjust to their new spots
As mentioned, so much of baseball is mental, and thinking guys won’t produce the same in different spots is a valid statement. Yes, Blackmon, with his stats from last year, makes for a very dangerous threat in the 3 spot, but can we guarantee his production will stay the same? On paper, this looks amazing, but baseball isn’t played on paper.
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Now, there will only be two guys (Nolan Arenado and Blackmon), who will be in new spots with the new possible lineup. However, that is such a large part of the offense for Colorado that it could swing them both ways. One stat that is interesting: When Arenado batted fourth last year (albeit just 22 games), his batting average was just .247. When he batted in the third spot, that rose to .319. Only time will tell, but for now, the pros would definitely seem to outweigh the cons.
2. The Lemahieu and Tapia combo working
DJ LeMahieu is a great player, and one of the best second basemen in the league. But, he has one flaw at the plate as he led the Rockies in grounding into double plays. This could be an issue, as the whole point of the lineup change would be to have people on base when Blackmon and Arenado came up to bat.
Sure, Colorado could start implementing some additional hit and runs, but the main thing here is that the Rockies want guys on base for the heavy hitters. Plus, there is the possibility that this might not be as great an issue, as Tapia will (hopefully) be stealing a lot of bags, and making those ground balls less hurtful. If these two play as well offensively as we know they can, this offense will be unstoppable, no questions asked.
3. Tapia will need to be ready for this
Tapia showed some great signs last season, which all started with his breakout 4-for-4 game against Pittsburgh, where he was the spark Colorado needed to avoid getting swept. But if he takes over the leadoff, there is a whole new pressure put on his shoulders. He will be looked at as one of the guys who gets things going early in games … but is he ready? Again, only time will tell, but if he in fact is ready to take on this much larger role with Colorado, he will have the chance to make a name for himself across Major League Baseball.
The possible new lineup that Bud Black could put in place looks very good on paper. Maybe even better than last year (which is hard to believe). But, it would rely on guys being able to adjust to things being a little bit different. Even professionals can be creatures of habit, but if the Rockies can adapt to the new lineup, boy, will it be exciting to see!