From big leaguers to little leaguers, players check this first when they get to the ballfield and throw their bat bag into the dugout. That's right, the lineup card for that day's game. And, although every spot in the lineup is important, a player's spot in the lineup is important, right? Which spot in the lineup is the best? Early in the lineup or late? Leading off an inning or having the potential of runners on base?
JustBats breaks down all nine spots in the lineup. Batting 1st…
Sets the tone.
The leadoff spot. Who wouldn’t want to be the first one to hit? This spot is vital to get the game started off on the right foot and set the flow of the game. Here, you want a hitter who has the ability to get on base, either with a hit or a walk. Speed is usually key, as well as somebody who can make contact and not strike out. For example, Game 1 of the 2015 World Series. Alcides Escobar of the Kansas City Royals led off the game with an inside-the-park home run against the New York Mets, which set the tone of the game and the whole series. Some other notable leadoff hitters include Craig Biggio, Ichiro Suzuki, Kenny Lofton, and Jose Altuve.
Keeps momentum going.
Assuming the leadoff man does their job, it’s the player in the “2 spot” that moves the runner into scoring position for the upcoming power hitters. This spot keeps the momentum going. Typically given to the “sacrifice specialists”, this place on the lineup card is saved for those who are good at laying down bunts or hitting the ball to the opposite field. Stereotypical two hole hitters also have above average speed and power with the ability to drive in runs. For example, Mike Trout hit second for the Angels in the early part of his career leading him to MLB Rookie of the Year in 2012 and AL MVP in 2014. Some other notable players that bat second are Chase Utley, Derek Jeter, and Dustin Pedroia.
The best spot?
Best spot to hit? We think so. It's an honor to hit third for your team. Usually, it's where your best all around hitter should be slotted. You need a batter that is known for getting on base, having the best batting average, power, and the ability to drive in runs. Quite often, this spot comes up with two outs in the inning, so it is crucial the 3 batter knows how to clutch hit and drive in key runs. Tigers' first baseman and Triple Crown award winner Miguel Cabrera has hit third for most of his career. Some other notable players to bat third include Mookie Betts, Jose Bautista, Albert Pujols, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, and Hank Aaron.
Powerfully cleans the bases.
“Cleanup” refers to the spot in the order where a batter has the ability to clear the bases with a big extra base hit. Power is needed to succeed in this spot and should be dedicated to THE power hitter on your team, a batter who strikes fear into the minds of all opposing pitchers. They may not be the fastest and may strike out a bunch of times, but when they make contact, it goes a long way and, most of the time, over the fence. You need a hitter to come up clutch in this spot while collecting a lot of RBIs, doubles, triples, and home runs. Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz hit cleanup for most of his career tallying up 541 career home runs and 1,768 RBIs. Some other notable players to bat in the cleanup position are Ryan Howard, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, Alex Rodriguez, and Giancarlo Stanton.
Even though you are at the end of the heart of the order, batting in the “5 spot” is still one of much importance. Players batting in this spot are known for producing RBIs at an above average pace with either hits or sacrifice flies. An ideal hitter for this spot has raw power, a good on-base percentage, and can hit to all fields. Do you remember who had the game winning hit in extra innings in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series for the Cubs? The 5th guy in the batting order -- Ben Zobrist. You just never know when your time will be called to make history.
The second leadoff hitter.
A player batting in the “6 spot” is known more as a second leadoff hitter. More than likely they're leading off a new inning, but you just never know when a crucial situation will appear. So, these batters should possess more power than your prototypical leadoff hitter, which makes this an interesting spot in the order. Therefore, above average speed, a good on-base percentage with the ability to drive in runs, and clutch situational hitting are all ideal. In Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, the St. Louis Cardinals were down to their final out against the Texas Rangers, when the sixth spot in the order came up. That happened to be David Freese, who hit a game winning home run that at-bat and was named hero after they won it all.
Defensive specialist and sacrificial lamb.
This slot in the order typically is where you would put a defensive specialist, such as a second basemen or catcher. Players that sacrifice a lot and are great bunters are perfect for the 7 spot. Your batting average isn’t the highest and you may not hit the most home runs or steal many bases, but every spot in the lineup is important and you have no idea when your number will get called. For example, in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, Cleveland Indians' outfielder Rajai Davis faced Cubs' closer Aroldis Chapman in the bottom of the 8th inning down two runs and he hit a game-tying home run…batting in the seventh spot. You can’t make this stuff up, folks!
Batting in this spot is usually one of your best contact hitters who has the ability to drive in runs if needed. It is crucial that they can get on base and have above average speed, because the top of the lineup is about to come up. “8 hole” hitters usually can provide a spark for the team to get a late game rally going. Cubs' outfielder Jason Heyward batted in the “8 hole” for most of the 2016 playoffs. Even though he struggled, he still had the ability to provide a spark at any time even though he was batting near the bottom of the order.
The pitcher's spot.
This is mostly known as the pitcher's spot in the lineup. Like the “8 spot” you would like your ninth hitter to provide a spark and give your top of the lineup a little momentum for a rally. To be an ideal ninth hitter, you need to be effective sacrifice specialist a lot like the second hitter. Most pitchers and position players that bat ninth tend to bunt frequently to either advance runners to just get a hit.
Now it's your turn, we want to hear from you. Which spot in lineup are you in? Which spot is the best to hit from? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
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