Consistency of lineup
On the season, the leadoff spot was manned by Brian Dozier in 151 of 162 games. Joe Mauer hitting 2nd 86 times out of the 162 games was the most consistent lineup spot after Dozier, however, and from 4-9, no batter hit in any spot 50 times in the entire season, so no player really had a set spot in the lineup.
Constructing the lineup with Dozier and Mauer at the top makes sense as the two are very productive and produce .350+ on base consistently. From there, the lineup was a mosh. Miguel Sano had the most games at both the 3rd AND 4th spots.
The 5th spot in the lineup epitomized the inconsistency that the team saw in the lineup, with 5 players having at least 20 games in the lineup spot. Both the 4th and 5th spot each had 6 players who had at least 15 games in the spot.
The thing that was roughest is how it put the young hitters in inconsistent positions. Max Kepler had at least 25 games hitting in each of the 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 6th spots. Eddie Rosario had at least 10 games at the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th spots in the order.
While this won’t completely hurt a young player as long as he’s getting consistent at bats, it does add a level of comfort to know your line up spot.
For a bit of evidence, let’s look at players’ OPS in their spots with at least 30 games vs. overall OPS:
- Jason Castro, 8th: .719, overall: .720
- Joe Mauer, 2nd: .820, 3rd: .806, overall: .801
- Jorge Polanco, 3rd: .844, 7th: .766, overall: .723
- Miguel Sano, 3rd: .791, 4th: .988, overall: .859
- Eddie Rosario, 6th: .806, overall: .836
- Byron Buxton, 9th: .643, overall: .728
- Max Kepler, 2nd: .846, 5th: .768, overall: .737
- Robbie Grossman, 2nd: .758, overall: .741
There are a few outliers, like Rosario and Buxton, but in general a guy will hit best in a spot that he’s in consistently. Of course, Buxton’s can be explained away with the fact that he was stuck at the 9th spot while he slumped through the first half, and the minute he was hitting well in the 2nd half, he was bumped up in the lineup, so he didn’t really have time to rectify that number.
With a lineup in 2018 that will have more players under 25 than over 30, Molitor should play to those young players’ comfort levels and leave behind the seeming dartboard lineups of 2017.
Next: Trust the youth