Dissecting the options the Cardinals have with the batting order
By John Bailey
ST. LOUIS (BaseballStL)-- I have a feeling this is going to be a bad year for those batting order enthusiasts who demand the same 1-8 night in and night out.
Cards manager Mike Matheny just has too many options, and not enough certainly, to stick with anything long term as of right now. Over the course of an entire season – sure – you let the production play out and see who’s performing at the highest level and adjust accordingly.
But until that time comes? Man, it’s going to be a different order every single day you’d imagine.
First of all the problem begins with the fact this lineup is very heavily left-handed. Matt Carpenter, Kolten Wong, Jon Jay, Jason Heyward and Matt Adams all bat from that side of the plate while Yadier Molina, Matt Holliday and Jhonny Peralta are the only righties. How does Matheny stack or space out those lefties?
The options are many.
Carpenter, Jay and Wong are the obvious candidates to hit at the top of the lineup in some order. There’s been some talk about Carpenter moving from 1 to 2 but in the end I’m not sure how much that’s going to matter. It’s all about getting him to the plate as much as possible. He won’t be dropping to the middle third anytime soon.
After Jay’s bounce back year where he had a .303 batting average and a .378 on-base percentage while playing terrific defense he’s earmarked to be the starting center fielder. You could make the case he deserves to be in that mix at the top. Kolten Wong’s insane October where he was possibly the best hitter on the Cardinals showed a glimpse of why he needs to be hitting up there.
Then there’s the question of what to do with Heyward. He hit mostly leadoff for the Braves this past season and let his power get robbed because of it. Count me as a part of the crowd that thinks he’ll be hitting either third or fourth. The problem with hitting Heyward third is then you’d have three lefties at the top. That could be a big problem late in games when teams bring in their specialists to face them.
Peralta, Adams and Molina will hit 5-6-7 most likely in some order with whoever gets bumped from the top among Wong and Jay at or near the bottom.
See how vague that potential order is? That’s how many different directions Mike Matheny could go. He could go Carpenter, Jay, Holliday, Heyward, Peralta, Adams, Molina, Wong. He could go Carpenter, Jay, Heyward, Holliday, Adams, Peralta, Wong, Molina.
Matheny could literally do about 50 different things with his lineup early in the season and no one would complain. They wouldn’t complain, that is, until he changes it the next day. And the next day. And the next day.
If you’re the type of person who like batting order stability this is not going to be the year for you. Well, at least early on until the Cardinals find something they like. But until then? Good luck.