May 6, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals left fielder Alex Gordon (4) is congratulated by center fielder Lorenzo Cain (6) as Gordon scores in the first inning of the game against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Revisiting the Lineup – Still Out of Order?


It’s been a while since I first tackled the topic of how I would set the lineup (based on some preseason projections) for the Royals. After hearing the local media go on and on with antiquated theories on who should bat cleanup (an all or nothing Steve Balboni type, perhaps?), who should lead off, and so on and so on…not to mention news that Ned Yost is considering a shakeup in the order, I thought it would be a good time to revisit this topic.

Needless to say…something’s gotta give. This team has shown very little power and continually seems to either squeak by or come up just short. Lately the trend is to squander a good outing by one of the starting pitchers. I think we can all agree that James Shields should have better than a 2-2 record.

If you go back and look at my last dissection of the batting order, you’ll see I used some of the more modern (nerdy? No, I don’t live in my mom’s basement) ways of thinking when stacking the guys up from 1 through 9. I did a simple breakdown at the time, just looking at building one “master” lineup…but the way these guys are hitting – it might be time to consider not only a shuffle in the order, but some platoons. Once again, I’ll lean on ideas borrowed from The BookAnd away we go…

I still believe your best hitters should be in the 1, 2, 4, and 5 positions. With the thought that your leadoff guy should have the highest possible OBP, and the way these guys are hitting…I think our new leadoff guy should be Lorenzo Cain. I’m not making this move lightly, as I’ve been a proponent of Gordon as the leadoff guy…but Gordon is flashing some power and Cain is getting on base more often. I’d stick Gordon in the next spot, though…not moving him too far from that top spot in the lineup.

Moose is heating up…is he ready to bat third? Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

With the top two spots settled, I think our cleanup guy is obviously Billy Butler. After getting off to a pretty slow start, Butler now leads the team in OBP and is third, behind Cain and Gordon, in OPS (these numbers do NOT reflect Wednesday’s game, by the way). But he’s coming on strong.

Our third hitter is a bit tougher to peg. We’ve got Alcides Escobar, Salvador Perez, Mike Moustakas, and Eric Hosmer as the next best hitters in this lineup. Chris Getz and Jeff Francoeur, to the surprise of absolutely no one, bring up the rear and are the most likely candidates to at least be platooned, if not completely replaced, at some point.

The fourth best OPS belongs to Escobar, then we have Perez, and Hosmer. Moose is currently last on the list…but after another pretty impressive game Wednesday night, I think it’s a matter of time before he leapfrogs his way into the mix.

I may be crazy – but combining the way he’s been hitting of late with what is expected of him, I’d put Moose in that third spot versus RHP. Then I think you have to go with (after Butler at cleanup), Perez and Hosmer at 5 and 6. What about Escobar? If he’s not going to hit second anymore, I just can’t see him anywhere from 3 through 6, so we’ll put him at 7. After that, we go with Dyson rather than Frenchy (versus RHP) and then some kind of platoon with Getz and Johnson.

So the lineup versus RHP goes like this:

Lorenzo Cain RF

Alex Gordon LF

Mike Moustakas 3B

Billy Butler DH

Sal Perez C

Eric Hosmer 1B

Alcides Escobar SS

Jarrod Dyson CF

Chris Getz/Elliot Johnson 2B

When I switch it up and fill out the lineup card against southpaws…I think we have to make a few changes. First of all – for the time being, I’m not sure you play Moose versus lefties. And if you do, I don’t think you can bat him third. I’d also go with Frenchy over Dyson in this lineup, and give Elliot Johnson the definite nod at second base, with Tejada getting some time when Moose does play.

With that being said…I think our lineup versus LHP shakes out like this:

Lorenzo Cain CF

Alex Gordon LF

Sal Perez C

Billy Butler DH

Miguel Tejada/Mike Moustakas 3B

Eric Hosmer 1B

Alcides Escobar SS

Jeff Francoeur RF

Elliot Johnson/Miguel Tejada 2B

It’s not a radical shakeup by any means, but it is different – both from my initial idea weeks ago and from what we’ve seen on a daily basis courtesy of Yost. It puts our hitters in (arguably) the right spots, while giving the team a legitimate power threat in that cleanup spot. Cain hasn’t flashed a lot of home run power just yet (I do think it will come) and would be allowed to get on base for Gordon, who was slugging at a .484 clip before hitting another homer Wednesday. Those first two spots are now filled by all-around batters who can work the count, drive the ball, run a bit (Cain can run a LOT), and have a knack for coming up with big hits.

Escobar batting lower in the order gives some protection to Hosmer, who would be batting just ahead of him. Hosmer has a good OBP at .343, but has yet to hit for any power. He won’t generally kill a rally though, and if he can get on base Escobar has a decent shot of following with a hit of his own. Another benefit to moving Escobar down – he’s grounding into a lot of double plays this season, leading the team with 7 so far. Would you rather have him killing a rally with Dyson or Frenchy on deck, or with Butler (or, according to what I’ve sketched out – Moose or Perez) waiting to bat?

When all is said and done, this team still won’t succeed by slugging a combined .390, but a slight shuffle might give them a better chance at scraping together 5 runs instead of 3. Then we just have to hope a couple of these guys start hitting the long ball.

What do you think? Am I nuts? How would you stack the order?

Tags: Alex Gordon Featured Kansas City Royals Lorenzo Cain Popular

  • Andy

    If you are going to move Gordon and mess with it why not just put him 3rd? I actually like this more…

    Cain
    Escobar
    Gordon
    Butler
    Perez
    Moose
    Hosmer
    Frenchy/Dyson
    Anyone else/Getz

    • Bob Ellis

      Going by “The Book” and their research…you want your 2 hitter to be better than your three hitter. You want leadoff to be very high OBP. Go with Cain 1, Gordon 2. It also shows that the #3 hitter comes to the plate more often than not with fewer runners on base than the #4 or #5 hitters. he will, more often than not, come up with nobody on and two out. Why waste Gordon there? Put a guy who, in that situation, could at least jack one and get a run on the board, or possibly get on base for your better hitter at #4.

      Not to totally disagree with your idea…it certainly puts our most productive hitters (to this point) from 1 thru 5 with Moose coming on strong at 6. (his OPS has jumped more than 100 points in the last 7 or 8 games).

      • Eric Akers

        If we are going solely by “the book” theory that number 3 doesn’t get as many RBI opportunities, then I would suggest Hosmer and his high OBP bat third. We know he has the potential to hit for some power, and he can get on base better than most others in the lineup right in front of Billy. I think it would be okay to bat two lefties in a row with Gordo at 2nd, or just put Gordo back at leadoff.

        • Bob Ellis

          I would love for Hosmer to eventually be a legit 3, 4, or 5. I said in another reply here…if he and Moose get going, this lineup is completely different. Them under performing the way they have totally killed the ideal batting order right out of the gate (although the team still found plenty of ways to win).

  • hemroid

    I like Andy’s idea where we have cain-escobar-gordon-butler-perez. Then after that it is a crap shoot. Hosmer has an average average with NO pop in his bat, Moose may be heating up and he could get his average to average with some pop and then you have Frenchy (no average and little pop) and Getz (no average and no pop and no place for him). I would probably let Getz be a pinch runner since it seems the Royals HAVE TO HAVE HIM. Put Miggy or Johnson @ 2nd and go for it. We don’t really have any choice. There is NO one is the minors to help us out. There is no middle infielders that hit the ball and no corner infielders that hit the ball with any power and can catch it when hit to them. I think our minors has some pitching that is oozing its way up but the fielders are almost non-existent. We have what we have and that is all.

    • Bob Ellis

      It’s not a bad idea…I just think Gordon is wasted at the 3 when ideally your high OBP guy is leadoff and your best two hitters are actually best used in the 2 and 4 spots. Hosmer – you’re correct…not a great average and no pop thus far, but he DOES have a nice OBP (third on the team behind Cain and Butler). Getz is playing himself off the team, in my opinion. They have to do something at second to squeeze him out…and he’s got no value off the bench really, as he can only play one position.

      • hemroid

        Gordo surely wasted one last night with a man on board hitting 3rd. Small sample size admittedly but I’ll take it for last night.

        • Bob Ellis

          Yep. I think obviously the fact that three homers were hit is coincidental…but…I’ll take it. I don’t think moving Hosmer down one spot ignited something in him.

          But yeah. I’ll take it. I don’t like Escobar at 1…just doesn’t have the on base skills. I think Cain or Gordon – if the lineup (especially Moose and Hos) are doing what they SHOULD do is perfect. But all that matters to me is winning.

  • Bob Ellis

    Another idea I had thought about (although his OBP has dipped a bit, it’s still third on the roster) is sticking Hosmer at leadoff…with his complete lack of power, but ability to draw walks and slap singles…Then maybe go with the more “standard” lineup after that…with Gordon at 3 even.

    Hosmer 1B

    Escobar SS

    Gordon LF

    Butler DH

    Cain RF

    Moose 3B

    Perez C

    Tejada/Johnson 2B
    Dyson CF

    • Andy

      I agree with what you are saying in your reply to me. But I think as things are going right now, you have Cain and Escobar (maybe) hitting well and Gordon unfortunately is one of the only guys that can drive in runs with extra base hits. Moose looks to be coming around, and if that holds true then maybe those runs will start crossing the plate. I am just of the opinion either way that the Royals need to make an honest try at giving Gordon more RBI opportunities. I would be ok with the lineup above, but I have to say Hosmer is just a crapshoot at this point. For every great AB I see him have, I see 3 where the contact is weak.

      Then again, maybe some of this is moot if Moose and Perez get going. Better production out of the 5 and 6 holes will make a WORLD of difference.

      • Bob Ellis

        To keep with your better hitters being 2,4, or 5 (with leadoff being pretty key)….you could monkey around even more and go:

        Escobar SS

        Gordon LF

        Perez C

        Butler DH

        Cain RF

        Moose 3B

        Hosmer 1B

        Tejada 2B

        Dyson CF

        Or something like that…that gives your highest OPS players a shot to drive in the most runs at 2, 4, and 5…Escobar a speedy guy who puts the ball in play a lot at 1. Perez – a free swinger who can drive the ball at 3. You could still flop Perez and Moose vs. LHP/RHP.

        It’s always a fun conversation to have….

        • Andy

          You know I like this and have wondered why Escobar hasn’t gotten more play at leadoff. I would say you might be better off flipping Perez and Cain in this lineup but I am basing that on todays stats which isn’t the best indicator. I’m fully on board the Cain Train so maybe my judgement is cloudy.

          Maybe we should stop talking about this Bob before it gets out of hand and we fix all of the Royals problems today. I mean what would Yost have to work on at that point? Royals are above .500 so I’m trying to keep a level head….

          • Bob Ellis

            Oh I’m a HUGE Cain fan and believer in the guy. I’ve written at least two articles about him that I can recall – and in our preseason predictions here at KoK, he was my “bold prediction” as the guy to push Gordon for team MVP. I had him down for 15 HR and 30 steals I think.

            Again, though…borrowing the stat breakdowns from The Book, and the thought that your 3 hitter is not as important as your 2, 4, 5 hitters. That’s why I put Cain at 5. Then stick a Moose/Perez combo at 3 and let those guys be the free swingers that fill that slot for now. Just my 2 cents. There are a lot of ways we can go with it…like I said in the article, though, something’s gotta give.

  • Justin Andrew Anderson

    1. Cain (R)
    2. Escobar (R)
    3. Gordon (L)
    4. Butler (R)
    5. Hosmer (L)
    6. Perez (R)
    7. Moose (L)
    8. Giavotella (R)
    9. Dyson (L)

    • Bob Ellis

      Another decent lineup here. I don’t think Giavotella is the answer for us at 2B…I’m really starting to fully believe he’s one of those AAAA guys who is too good for the minors, not quite good enough to play everyday at the big league level. Maybe he hits .240ish…but does he contribute enough defensively to make up for a lack of offense? doubtful.

      Not a fan of Hosmer at 5 – which I think is a run production spot…not unless he starts showing more of what he did as a rookie. Right now, he’s slapping singles and drawing some walks…I’d rather see him bat 6 or 7 or even give him a shot at 1 (although that may be TOO outside the box).

  • unclejesse40

    Ok so this isnt a line up issue but what has recently been going on in the rotation has got me wondering a few things. Mendoza has not been as sharp as I thought he was going to be, and because it appears that Yost never really liked him much and thought of him more as a long reliever, I have a sneaking feeling that if he has another poor start you might see a transition for him into the long reliever spot and Hoch back to the rotation. Call me crazy but I think they just might do it. the other thing I wonder about is since the rotation has been going so deep lately whats the harm in taking maybe Crow to AAA and letting him stretch his arm out and possible transition back to the rotation like they hoped he would be in the first place.

    • Bob Ellis

      I don’t think it would be Hoch coming back. I think they stick with Mendoza for a couple more starts – with the rainouts and the bombing in Boston, the team’s had an erratic schedule and the rotation’s been out of whack. April is a month that sees a fifth starter miss a couple of starts anyway on a lot of teams, with some of the days off. Let’s see if Mendoza gets on track with regular work. If not – I could see Will Smith getting another shot or maybe even Chen. Maybe I just refuse to believe I’ll see Luke starting again…..

      • Andy

        Duffy…..got to get that guy back. If he is throwing the way reports say then please for the love of God let it be him. Because I’m finding another team if Hoch goes back to starting.

      • Eric Akers

        I agree. I don’t see Hoch coming back in because they would have to work on him getting more innings (it was fairly early in spring that he moved to the pen) and he seems to be thriving in his new role so far. I don’t see them messing with that right now.

  • Bob Ellis

    The lineup is out for tonight’s game in Baltimore…and there are changes. Here it is:

    Escobar
    Cain
    Gordon
    Butler
    Hosmer
    Perez
    Moose
    Frenchy
    Getz

    let’s see how it goes….

    • Andy

      So far so good in the RBI dept. Good to see Hosmer get his 1st HR.

      • Bob Ellis

        Imagine we’ll see that lineup again tonight. I’m not crazy about Escobar leading off….just too much of a free swinger…he’s seemed more patient this year, but not enough for leading off, in my opinion. Maybe he’ll tweak his approach, but I can’t see him with an OBP better than .330

        Good to see some power coming from the lineup for a change though.

  • jimfetterolf

    Looks like the new lineup produced a 1-9 from the top two guys and won because three big guys who are supposed to hit home runs actually did in the band box that is Camden Yards.

    My view on the line-up boils down to Billy Butler. If the on-deck hitter doesn’t scare the opposing team, Billy gets pitched around and the game becomes station to station with Billy’s OBP not translating to runs scored or driven in, so best may be Billy as lead-off with Gordon, an extra base machine second, a double moving Billy to third so only a single is needed to score him.

    • Bob Ellis

      Agreed…someone should be behind Billy who the other team can’t view as an easy out…which I think is why it all hinges on Moose continuing his surge and Hosmer putting it together…with those doing what they SHOULD do…this lineup is a completely different animal.