Jun 3, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals left fielder Alex Gordon (4) hits a three run home run off of St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Jaime Garcia (not pictured) during the fifth inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Moving Alex Gordon to Third in the Royals Lineup

According to the basics of creating a lineup, as taught in Baseball Lineup Construction 101, the more that a team’s better hitters can get to home plate, the better. While the leadoff batter is usually someone who can get on base, and the second slot is filled by someone with solid bat control, the third and fourth hitters are typically the best batters on the team. Nori Aoki and Omar Infante were brought in to fill the first two spots, but the third and fourth hitters have not performed to expectations.

The struggles for Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer have been well documented this year. Yet, Ned Yost typically keeps both batting in the third and fourth spots of the lineup. Meanwhile, Alex Gordon, who happens to be leading the Royals in virtually every category amongst players that would qualify for the batting title, is typically the Royals fifth hitter. In fact, Gordon has a total of 37 plate appearances hitting anywhere other than fifth this season.

Gordon, who has produced a .288/.375/.455 batting line this year, which is good enough for a 128 OPS+, has been the Royals most consistent hitter in 2014. He has also been one of the few members of the Royals to hit with anything even remotely appearing to be power, as leads the Royals in home runs and has 18 doubles. Meanwhile, both Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler have produced a 82 and a 72 OPS+ respectively this season.

As the Royals have struggled to score runs for most of this season, perhaps some adjustments in the lineup need to be made. Even though the offense has been better over the past week, the Royals are still not scoring enough runs consistently to win ballgames. Moving their best hitter in Alex Gordon up to the third spot, a position where he has had all of four plate appearances this season, may help to jumpstart the Royals offense.

The Royals lineup can still have that lefty-righty matchup in the middle of the order that Ned Yost loves to have as well. With Gordon hitting third, Salvador Perez could be moved up to fourth, dropping Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler back to fifth and six respectively. Yost would get the matchup problems that he loves in the middle of the order, and the Royals would get their more productive bats more plate appearances. With the potential to get more runs on the board, everyone could win!

Alex Gordon has been the Royals most productive hitter this season. It is time to put him in the third spot in the lineup.

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  • jimfetterolf

    Gordon was put 5th to protect Billy and his big numbers are a lot the result of a good June. But worth a try. Now Yost will get blasted for excessive tinkering with the line up.

    • Ardent Shepherd

      To protect Billy? Pitchers aren’t throwing around #16. Hell, they know that if there’s a guy on first, they’re gonna get a double play out of him. Billy Butler strikes fear into no pitchers. The fact of the matter is, Billy has always been a one trick pony. Seems the past few years he hasn’t even had the one trick any longer. Gordon should be batting in front of him. He was marginally an All-Star when the game was in KC and has been nothing but downhill production since then. Ned Yost gives all these players undying loyalty — they aren’t afraid of being replaced because Yost doesn’t have a history of doing so.

      • jimfetterolf

        Yeah, to protect Billy. That was discussed here over the winter. Good call on predicting Billy would stink and Alex would finally start hitting after a terrible second half last year and first month this year.

  • Bear Brinkman

    I like the idea and have wondered why Yost insists on a power lacking Butler batting 4th.

  • Stan Colbert

    It would be great to have Alex hit 4fh when he is playing like he is now. BB should bat right behind Moose but that isn’t going to happen.

  • jimfetterolf

    One argument against top loading is that it concentrates weakies at the bottom, giving the opposing pitchers easy innings. Kansas City’s lone full time baseball journalist mentioned this.

    • unclejesse40

      I see the point in this philosophy but I also think that you have to put your strongest guys together in order to string together 3 or 4 hits in an inning and get guys around the base paths. When putting the weakest hitters at the bottom of a lineup the approach for those guys has to be take as many pitches as possible. I am not saying just go to the plate and put the bat on your shoulder, but you have to see more than just one pitch. The a weak free swinger might be one of the worst things to have at the bottom of the lineup in my opinion.

  • moretrouble

    Anytime a manager changes the line-up to put the “hot” hitter farther up, he is chasing after the fact. One after another, every hitter he puts there will run hot and cold. No one likes confusion and that’s what you get with frequent line-up changes … no one knows that the heck is happening from day to day. It creates instability and hurts team chemistry..

    Fans keep coming back to the idea that something must change for the team to play better — perhaps players must be made to feel uncomfortable — they need to be punished for poor play — they need to fear for their jobs … or, the manager must be replaced, the GM must be fired, a new hitting coach must be retained.

    Yeah, something must change … players must play better. The fact is — if this team wants to win … all they must do is execute. Players will either do it … or not.