The Lineup Shuffle

If crafting the perfect lineup is an art form, then the manager is the architect.

He has the daunting task of finding a perfect balance within a team and creating a batting order that is solid top to bottom, while suiting each hitters strengths.

For one more season, the responsibility of filling out the Blue Jays lineup card belongs to Cito Gaston.


Here is where the strategies of the current and previous managers conflict. On one hand, John Gibbons tinkered with the lineup way too often. On the other, Cito Gaston seemingly refuses to mess with the order once his players get comfortable.

So piecing together the quotes from Cito, I’ve assembled what I deem to be the Opening Day lineup and therefore the lineup that will likely be used for most of the season.

Then I took it one step further; I looked up the players career stats (AVG, OBP and SLG) hitting in that particular position. The results might surprise you …

Jose Bautista 438 0.275 0.359 0.487
Aaron Hill 957 0.283 0.331 0.464
Adam Lind 322 0.291 0.345 0.575
Vernon Wells 980 0.282 0.326 0.447
Lyle Overbay 1113 0.287 0.367 0.484
Edwin Encarnacion 659 0.253 0.34 0.457
Travis Snider 58 0.087 0.276 0.13
John Buck 918 0.236 0.303 0.424
Alex Gonzalez 613 0.266 0.302 0.414

I hate to say it, but the manager might actually be on to something here. While some are groaning at the possibility of Jose Bautista hitting at the top of the lineup, his career .359 OBP fits in with the reasonable expectations for a leadoff hitter. Against right-handed pitchers? Well, that’s a totally different story.

Hill and Lind are fine where they are at the number two and three slots. Despite the controversy about Adam Lind not feeling “comfortable” hitting cleanup, after taking a look at the stats, he actually has much better numbers batting third. If Cito want’s to be cool uncle Cliff and keep Lind there, that’s fine by me.

Perhaps most puzzling was Cito’s announcement that he was going to make Vernon Wells the new cleanup hitter. This is the very same slot in which Wells spent the first 82 games of the 2009 season while tallying a mere 36 RBI’s.Wells isn’t a beast hitting in the cleanup spot, but there are certainly much worse candidates that Cito could go with.

As far as the rest of the lineup goes, things can be tweaked here and there.

Snider’s numbers are grossly skewed because he only spent 16 games hitting in the seventh spot. If Cito is following his montre and trying to figure out where the guys are most comfortable, Snider should slot into the ninth spot. However, by hitting seventh Snider gets a little protection from Overbay and Encarnacion and also has the potential to drive in more runs.

Programming note: Unfortunately, due to tonight’s Canada/Russia game, there will be no Live Chat this evening. The Live Chat will return as regularly scheduled for next week, because frankly, I don’t want to upset the Hockey Gods.


Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.

11 thoughts on “The Lineup Shuffle

  • February 24, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    JoBau will be a great leadoff guy. Mark. My. Words.

    Vernon will hit 25+

    This team could surprise. I can't wait.

  • February 24, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    I agree with ^^. I might be a blind optimist, but that order looks pretty ok. If the 300 pitchers we have can all combine to give some good innings, this year could be fun.

  • February 24, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    The Bautista Apprection Society thanks you for those kind words, Andy.

    I can't remember if you or someone else mentioned this before, but maybe Cito might consider platooning Bautista/Gathright at the top of the lineup. It's a quick fix too, no need to juggle around the rest of the lineup.

    Mattt, on paper all those guys have decent numbers in those particular slots. There aren't any guys who hit over .300, but across the board it's pretty consistent.

  • February 25, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    I think there's something wonky with Travis Snider's numbers. Other than that, not bad!

  • February 25, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Drew, I had to do a double take when I saw that Snider's SLG was lower than his AVG, but that's what Baseball Reference said.

    It must have to do with the small sample size.

  • February 26, 2010 at 4:11 am

    I agree, JoseB should get the leadoff vs lefties. Against righties he should hit the pine and let Ruiz into the lineup (slide Lind to DH).

  • February 26, 2010 at 6:29 am

    Lind to LF? I agree.

    vs RHP

    Overbay 1B
    Hill 2B
    lind LF
    ruiz DH
    snider RF
    EE 3B
    Wells CF
    Buck C
    AGonz SS

    Maybe switch Overbay and Wells, if you are into that sort of thing. But, we all know it wont happen.

    Besides, JoBau is going to have a crazy breakout season playing fulltime. We could do worse defensively, that's for sure. he is almost as good as Rios in RF, no? Seemed to be, but I'm too lazy to look it up. lol.

  • February 26, 2010 at 6:31 am

    oh…. I see, you want Ruiz in LF, Snider in RF and lind in DH vs. RHP…. Ruiz looks good, why not ry it. Lots of power potential in that lineup. Imagine.

  • February 26, 2010 at 6:31 am

    wonder if Ruiz can play RF?

  • February 26, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    The most logical thing is to hit Overbay leadoff versus righties, but it sounds like Lyle wants nothing to do with batting at the top of the lineup.

    If it makes sense, you can probably count on Cito NOT doing it.

    No offense to Ruiz or anything, but I think he could do more damage out in left field than Lind could. If Ruiz isn't DH'ing, he should be playing first base IMO.

  • February 26, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Ahhh, I misunderstood which numbers you used. Carry on!


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