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Cubs Batting Order Analysis - Part I

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Lets go on a trip to Byron Land...

Dusty has been fired.
Byron has been hired.

There will be four general types of games this year:

  • #1: Days when Jerry Hairston Jr. (JHJ) starts at second.
  • #2: Days when JHJ starts elsewhere (LF, RF, CF, SS, 3B)
  • #3: Days when JHJ doesn't start, and Michael Barrett catches
  • #4: Days when JHJ doesn't start, and Henry Blanco catches

Lineup for situation #1: ~ 80 games
1. Jerry Hairston Jr.
2. Nomar Garciaparra
3. Aramis Ramirez
4. Derrek Lee
5. Michael Barrett
6. Jeromy Burnitz
7. Corey Patterson
8. Dubois/Hollandsworth
9. Pitcher

Lineup for situation #2: ~ 30 games
1. Jerry Hairston Jr.
2. Nomar Garciaparra
3. Aramis Ramirez
4. Derrek Lee
5. Todd Walker
6. Corey Patterson
7. Michael Barrett
8. Dubois/Hollandsworth
9. Pitcher

Lineup for situation #3: ~ 40 games
1. Todd Walker
2. Nomar Garciaparra
3. Aramis Ramirez
4. Derrek Lee
5. Jeromy Burnitz
6. Michael Barrett
7. Corey Patterson
8. Dubois/Hollandsworth
9. Pitcher

Lineup for situation #4: ~ 12 games
1. Todd Walker
2. Nomar Garciaparra
3. Aramis Ramirez
4. Derrek Lee
5. Jeromy Burnitz
6. Corey Patterson
7. Dubois/Hollandsworth
8. Henry Blanco
9. Pitcher

Here is why:

Color Code Key
 Prime batting spot
 Acceptable batting spot
 Shouldn't be hitting here

Jerry Hairston Jr.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

I can't think of a valid reason to have Hairston hit anywhere but as a leadoff man. Hairston should start 110 games this year, 80 at second base, and 30 at the other positions. He is the only prototypical leadoff man on the team, and his defense at second ought to be a consideration.

If for some reason JHJ isn't leading off, he would make a pretty good #2 hitter... but his gifts make him an excellent leadoff hitter.

Nomar Garciaparra

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Nomar's bat is probably the most versatile on the team. With his hitting ability, one can make a solid case to have him hit anywhere at the top of the order. His OBP would qualify him to hit at the top of the order, but he has too much power, and doesn't see enough pitches to make him an ideal leadoff man.

Nomar's best fit is in the two or three holes. His high batting average makes him an ideal candidate to bat #2, while his power could certainly justify hitting him #3. In Byronland, he hits #2 to get Aramis Ramirez more at-bats.

Nomar's skills would also work well as a clean-up hitter, but his OBP is too valuable to have him hitting in back of the other sluggers in the lineup.

Aramis Ramirez

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

A fantastic hitter and an emerging slugger, Aramis Ramirez is the best bat in the lineup. However, he doesn't have the speed to hit #1 or #2, and the GIDP is a significant concern when he steps into the batter's box. Still, his power combined with the rare ability to not strike out makes him an ideal #3 hitter.

Obviously, he makes an excellent clean-up hitter, but he is such a good hitter, I want him hitting as high in the order as possible sensible.

Finally, because he's a bit slow (running), it could be understandable if he hit behind Derrek Lee in the #5 spot. Understandable yes, good idea? No.

Derrek Lee

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Lee is an interesting hitter. He is incredibly enjoyable to watch. He's huge and his swing is very smooth. The ball flies off his bat, and when he hits line drives he is terrific. In addition to his batting, he has speed... although the current Cubs management hasn't asked him to use it much.

The combination of his speed, decent OBP (.356 last year), and power make him a good bet in the #2 spot. However, in this line-up, Lee fits better slotted behind Aramis Ramirez in the #4 spot. You may notice that I have said that Lee is better suited as a #2 and #5 hitter. However on this team, I like the versatility of Nomar and so have essentially removed the traditional #2 hitter. So, while Lee isn't what you think about when you think of a clean-up hitter... I think he fits into the Cubs lineup here.

Michael Barrett

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Most people wouldn't think of Michael Barrett as a #5 hitter... but I think he would flourish in the role. Barrett has some power, 16 homers in 456 AB last year, but more importantly he shares a characteristic with JHJ, Nomar, and Todd Walker. He does not share this characteristic with Derrek Lee, Corey Patterson, or Jeromy Burnitz.

This trait is of course this: Michael Barrett doesn't strike out... or at least not to excess. I can't really see hitting Burnitz ahead of Barrett because of how many innings would end on Burnitz strikeouts.

As a hitter, Barrett is getting better and hopefully he'll get his OBP up to about .350 this year. Still, he makes contact more often than not, and so would work as a traditional #2 hitter, or in the latter half of the order.

Jeromy Burnitz

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Burnitz is what the movies tell me a clean-up hitter should be. I'll have to find out if he chews tobacco, but he's a little ugly (sorry JB), looks scary, strikes out a lot, and hits homeruns. Think about the goon in Rookie of the Year.

Anyhow, despite his prodigous power, Burnitz strikes out too much to hit all that high in this order. I like him in the #6 spot, although he might also do very well hitting behind Corey Patterson... or more accurately, not clogging up the bases in front of C-Pat. Still, I'd like to see him hit ahead of Patterson because C-Pat does better (in my opinion) hitting in the bottom third of the order.

Corey Patterson

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Patterson is still a young hitter, and I think he tries to do too much when he bats at the front of the order. His power is developing nicely, but he still strikes out way too much. Hitting Patterson in the seventh spot gives him the ability to try and clear the bases if he gets to bat with men on. However, hitting behind Burnitz and in the seventh spot, he's likely to lead off a number of innings.

With his speed, Corey can be the focal point of the bottom of the order as they try to manufacture a run. Let's face it. When the Cubs leadoff an inning with their #7 hitter, unless he goes deep, the #8 and #9 hitters will likely be asked to play a little small-ball and move the runner over. Hitting in the seven spot, I'm hoping to see a lot of second and third situations with one man out and the leadoff hitter up.

Jason Dubois

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

I'll say it again. Jason Dubois should be the everyday left fielder. He should break camp with the big league club. He should start at least 120 games in left... and he should hit in the #8 spot.

Dubois has talent, a lot of talent. He is the best looking Cubs prospect since Corey Patterson made his debut. I think he'll probably develop into a Jeromy Burnitz type of player. A decent, but not spectacular outfielder with 30+ home run power... and a few too many strikeouts.

As a rookie, he should be sheltered, but allowed to play most everyday. I like hitting young hitters down in the order, and Dubois is no exception. I also think hitting in the #8 spot will give him some good opportunities to swing away during the season.

Dubois is the real deal, we just can't expect a polished major leaguer this year. To those who would comment that its all fine and dandy to develop youngsters, just not in a pennant push... I would argue that the Cubs should be in pennant pushes for the next five or six years (at minimum) and now is as good of a time as any to get Dubois into the lineup.

That is it for today. Later, I'll tackle the bench.

Posted by Byron at March 29, 2005 2:14 PM | Bookmark and Share | BallHype: hype it up!
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Nice. The only downside to Nomar hitting second is that he tends to swing at the first pitch often enough that Hairston wouldn't get to ply his trade on the basepaths very often. Of course, that might not be all bad as Hairston isn't the world's most successful basestealer.

but still...I would personally slot Nomar in the 3 stop and leave Walker as a twosee when Hairston starts in left.

I'm not as pessimistic about Patterson as you seem to be so I am expecting him to have All-Star caliber numbers this year. He is ready for it.

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