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.