My Phillies Lineup

Chase UtleyCharlie Manuel trotted out a lineup yesterday against the Tigers that I think could be (or should be) his Opening Day lineup.

He had Chase Utley hitting second, Michael Young hitting third and Ryan Howard hitting fourth.

First, I like this because it splits up Utley and Howard. There once was a time hitting Utley and Howard back-to-back made sense because both hit relatively well against lefties. But that no longer is the case. Utley has hit .202 with a .645 OPS against them the previous two seasons, while Howard has hit .205 with a .623 OPS against them. Put them back-to-back and it’s a gift for opposing managers late in the game. Just run out your left-handed specialist and get out of the inning.

Second, there have been studies that suggest teams should hit their best hitter second because he is still capable of driving in the leadoff man, plus his high on-base percentage allows him to get on base for the team’s other top hitters. So forget that, “We need a contact guy that can advance the runner in the two-hole.” Put Utley second.

Third, I simply think Young is the team’s best option to hit third at this point. He’s going to hit left-handers: he hit .333 with a .794 OPS against them last season, and has hit .314 with an .836 OPS against them in his career. So that makes things a little more difficult for opposing managers late in the game. Now, I’ve heard some people say, ‘Young doesn’t hit home runs.’ True, he doesn’t hit home runs, but if he moves toward his 2011 season (it’s too early to say either way which Young we will see this season) he should come up with enough extra-base hits to drive in enough runs to warrant the third spot.

Now, Jimmy Rollins: I want him hitting first. Each spot in a lineup is worth about 18 plate appearances per season. So the further you drop Rollins, the fewer at-bats he gets. If you want to take advantage of Rollins’ power and hit him fifth, you are costing him 72 plate appearances over the course of the season. I know there’s been a big push for Ben Revere to hit first, but after examining the numbers a little more closely I disagree. Rollins hit .250 with a .316 on-base percentage, .427 slugging percentage and .743 OPS last season. Revere hit .294 with a .333 on-base percentage, .342 slugging percentage and .675 OPS. I agree with Manuel when he said Rollins’ .250 was more productive than Revere’s .294. And again, I simply don’t want to cut Rollins’ plate appearances because Revere had a higher on-base percentage than Rollins (by just 17 points, mind you) for just one season. It’s worth noting here that Revere’s career on-base percentage is .319 compared to Rollins’ .328.

Yes, Rollins has a higher on-base percentage in his career than Revere.

That’s why I keep Rollins in the top spot.

So here’s my Opening Day lineup (not that Manuel is listening):

  1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
  2. Chase Utley, 2B
  3. Michael Young, 3B
  4. Ryan Howard, 1B
  5. Darin Ruf, LF
  6. Domonic Brown, RF
  7. Ben Revere, CF
  8. Erik Kratz, C

Feel free to agree or disagree below.

45 Comments

Love this article. I was thinking the exact same thing. L/R balance makes it tough for opposing managers, and gets the lineup, as a whole, better pitches to hit. Too bad Charlie will never do this. He is hell-bent on Utley/Howard 3-4, which will kill us late in games. Thanks for posting.

The fact that he has already done this once at the start of Spring indicates that Charlie is NOT “hell-bent”… Just another annoying Charlie-basher…

This might be the best solution right now. For the Revere-Rollins discussion I think Cholly has to figure it out in Spring Training games. If J-Roll can get out of his hustle-slump he still had at the end of last year and get back to be the energizer on this team, he is the right guy to lead off.
If he can’t, give Ben a shot, because he is definitely going to run it all out and give his best effort

how many times this year is revere going to get a base hit, steal second and get cock blocked by the catcher&pitcher spot.

No need to disagree! I am 100% on board with this line up.

I see a lot of double plays with the 3, 4, 5

I was promoting Rever leading off because I assumed his OBP was higher than Rollins. Put the higher OBP there. I like the 2-3-4 logic too. Speed at the bottom can be an advantage too.

I might flip Kratz and Revere, but that’s the best we can hope for. Manuel will never move Rollins from lineup unless he feels he has no choice. They have to break up Utley and Howard for the late innings.

Rollins from leadoff, that is.

Agree with HustleDNA there. Almost feels like you could go for the Tony LaRussa and bat Revere 9th so that Rollins can have the chance to drive him in. Call me crazy, but that makes sense to me.

I was thinking the same thing. You don’t need a pitcher to bunt Revere over to 2nd. Use the pitcher in the 8 spot to bunt over a slower runner, put speedy Revere in 9 so Rollins and Utley can push him around the bases.

That is very clever, and not surprised to learn that scheme was instigated by Tony LaRussa. May be something to consider, but trade off is taking roughly 18 AB from Revere during the season and giving them to the pitcher. I wonder what would happen if these various lineups were modeled?

I actually agree and like this idea. I’m not a fan of putting Revere 7th, as he’s going to get stranded too many times. If you put him 9th, it does give the opportunity for Rollins and Utley to drive him in. I never thought I would agree with LaRussa, but I think this would work for the Phils.

100% agree. Biggest issue for me is letting Ruf and Brown play everyday until they declare themselves. Brown needs to feel he belongs. Watching him here in Clearwater so far he looks like a different guy. Signing autographs, hustling even while shagging fly balls during bp, good at bats so far. If either Dom or Ruf breaks out this year watch out NL east.

What if Rollins could hit 3rd

Revere
Utley
Rollins
Howard
Young
Brown
Ruf
Kratz/Ruiz

The flaw in this logic is that we assume Revere won’t get any better. He’s only 24, and has a history in the minors of hitting .300 with a couple seasons of mid to upper .300s OBA. We know what we’re getting out of Rollins. We don’t know exactly what we’ll get out of Revere. Rollins may leadoff game 1, but I don’t expect he’ll be there all year, even if healthy.

Couldn’t agree more. Revere did walk nearly at an 8% rate in AA.

Agreed, not to mention that Rollins OBAMA is inflated due to his prime years, which, sadly to say, aren’t gonna be replicated in the future.

A situation in the first ST game to lead it off shows what can happen with Revere in the leadoff. Infield single, Revere steals second, gets to third by pretty much anything (passed ball, sacrifice, grounder to the right, base hit, etc.), then getting knocked in by the 3rd or 4th hitter. It was that simple to go up 1-0.

You put in that pitchers will always challenge Revere due to his lack of power, plus his contact rate in the strike zone (2nd in MLB last year I believe), and you can see why a contact hitter with elite speed would be better leading off than someone that pops up to the infield more than anyone else on the team, and has power that can be used to knock people in.

And yes, Revere has a chance to get better. Rollins OBA is on the decline.

Hahaha it changed to OBAMA, stupid phone.

Ever thought of hitting Revere 9th and essentially having two lead off hitters? would that work?

Makes sense to me for now. When the real games begin we’ll see how it goes.

Could not agree with you anymore, but Charlie goes with what his veterans and their wishes to a fault. He has to do what’s best for the team rather than make everyone happy.

i would swap Revere with Rollins, i understand your argument but Rollins numbers have been declining quickly since his MVP season.

i believe revere should hit 8th if he gets on steal 2nd pitcher bunts him to 3rd that is small ball that the phillies need for the bottom of the line up if revere proves to be better as the season goes on then maybe put him at the top

I like the suggested lineup, however I would consider batting the pitcher 8th in some cases and hitting Revere 9th ala Tony LaRussa. I might try this when Lee and Hamels are pitching as both handle the bat pretty good.

Batting the pitcher 8th is stupid. LaRussa got away with it because he is most probably heading to the HOF but, if somebody else did it, they probably would have lost their job. And BTW, it didn’t work. His team went 6-9 when he did it and I notice that he didn’t do it in August and September when the Cardinals were chasing down the wild card sport, or in the postseason. LaRussa pushes the envelope but he’s not crazy.
The only reason I would ever consider it is if I knew my pitcher wasn’t going to go deep in the game and I was going to end up using pinch hitters in the spot. Lee and Hamels go deep more often than not so it would make no sense.

Agree with everything except Rollins. I just don’t see his productivity increasing, and think Revere will be a more difficult out. He’s definitely got more upside this season.

Funny how the article about the lineup was meant to focus on the 3-4 lefties problem, but the discussion is mostly about where to put Revere. If we didnt have the two lefties, it would make so much sense to have Rollins-Revere as 1-2, so you get two leadoff hitters at the top, bettering your chances of having somebody on base for the sluggers. Breaking up Utley and Howard is very compelling, just hard to figure where to put them. Maybe next year after Ruf hits 35 bombers this year, he’ll hit cleanup sandwiched by Utley and Howard– that would work fine! ;-)

Someone said it above. Charlie has to let Brown and Ruf play everyday. You don’t take a kid like Brown who was baseball’s top prospect and the guy everyone wanted in trades and tell him you are going to platoon him. You tell him the job is his to lose. Is it any wonder that Dobbs and Werth both are doing better with other teams? And Werth had to beg Charlie to play everyday. This lefty righty stuff is for the birds. Just let a computer manage the team then.

Except the other guys are using the computer telling them to spend only one pitcher on Utley and Howard back to back. And maybe even the next guy. Why wouldn’t the Phillies want the other team to use three pitchers in an attempt to get three guys out? (regardless of whether it is left-right-left or right-left-right). Charlie must be your hero since you both want to stay within the box. Of course we are talking about a box manufactured prior to 1960.

“Is it any wonder that Dobbs and Werth both are doing better with other teams?”

Werth hit .296 with 27 HR and a .921 OPS his last year in Philly. He hit .232 in 2011 and, while he did hit .300 last year – he only played in 81 games.

Dobbs I might give you but it’s easy to hit for average when you have 13 at bats a season.

Also – Werth did not “beg Charlie” to play every day. He tore it up in the 2008 Postseason and guess who wasn’t back the next year? Geoff Jenkins.

What was Ruin smoking the day he gave up both Vance Worley and Trevor May for Revere? The only thing Revere seems to have going for him is speed. Does this make him a one and one-half tool player or a two tool player? Or, just a tool? It seems as if he would be a good project. But Worley and May? Ruin, don’t bogart that joint, my friend, pass it around again.

Everyone credits LaRussa with the pitcher 8th thing….I recall several times in the early 80’s Carlton batting 8th.

I like that lineup.I hope they are healthy and Young has a big year.Go Phils!89 wins and wild card!

I vehemently disagree with you on not hitting Revere leadoff. To my thinking, it’s a no-brainer. Hitting him 7th is a total waste of his ability. It nullifies his 40-50 SB, not to mention the pressure he puts on the pitcher and defense when he’s on first base. Both his average and OBP were higher than Rollins, not to mention he will steal more bases..His blinding speed and the pressure he puts on pitchers and defenses is invaluable. The 2nd and 3rd hitters will hit a lot more “mistakes”. Let Jimmy hit 5th where his power will be more advantageous.

So you would rather have the ML leader in pop outs lead off? J-Roll and his power work a lot better as protection for Howard than at the leadoff spot.

At this stage of his career, Revere is a classic 7-8 hitter. He won’t work a pitcher, he swings at everything and never drives the ball. He has a TOTAL of 33 extra base hits in over 1000 plate appearances, with zero HR’s. He’s a ++ CFer and needs to play everyday, but I don’t want him at the top of the order until he learns how to take a pitch and get better pitches to hit and drive.
Zo is correct when he says that Rollins’ .250 BA is more productive than Revere’s .294. It is really not close.

My understanding is that he is a ++ CF if he catches the ball on the fly. If he doesn’t, he would be better off running the ball back into the infield than he would be throwing it because the the ball would get there quicker.

As usual, I’ll cloud the issue with statistics: As far as “swinging at everything,” Revere swings at 41% of pitches. Rollins swings at 42%. The league average is 45% – so neither of them are anything special in that area.
And, you say he “won’t work a pitcher.” Revere sees 3.56 pitches per at-bat. Rollins 3.68. League average is 3.82.
Revere has 6% swinging strikes, Rollins 9%. Revere puts 37% of balls in play, Rollins 35%. I think your opinion needs to be more fact-based.
Revere’s contact percentage is 91%. Rollins’ is 87%. (League avg is 79%)
Where Revere fails is in strikeouts looking. 40% of his Ks are backward. Rollins is 25%.

I certainly won’t (and can’t) argue the power numbers, because Rollins has him beat by a ton. As far as working counts and making contact, Revere isn’t as bad as you make him sound.
We could argue whether or not a leadoff hitter needs to drive the ball. Baseball history is filled with guys who didn’t do that. They succeeded by getting on base and disrupting the game, stealing second base and making it easier to get an inning going.

If you break down your numbers farther, Revere swings at more pitches outside the strike zone and, unfortunately, makes contact with those pitches at a high rate, resulting in weak ground balls. He’ll never drive those pitches. He won’t take balls, so he won’t take walks and he gets less decent pitches to hit as a result. He’s a 7-8 hitter unless he drastically changes his approach because a guy with his pathetic OPS needs to get on base at a MUCH higher rate. 33 extra base hits and 57 walks in over 1000 plate appearances won’t cut it.

Wow – talk about over-analyzing. Nice job. Who said anything about balls outside the strike zone? Over-analyze much? Revere’s strike percentage is 64% vs a league average of 63%. Swinging strike without total contact is 6% vs. League average of 15%. What’s your point?
Oh – that’s right – you have none.

My point is that he is a 7-8 hitter until he learns to lay off the pitches outside the strike zone and try to take a walk and/or make the pitcher throw him better balls to hit. Because he makes contact on 85% of the pitches he swings at outside the strike zone, they’ll just keep throwing him shit for him to hit and ground out.

I agree with your lineup except for batting Ruf 5th. I would put Mayberry there. He has more experience, can hit with power and definitely adds to the defense.

I can’t see Ruf in the lineup. His defense looks as rough as Brown’s has been. He would be better served playing every day in the minors. Mayberry would be a great option or perhaps a late spring cut could join the team to platoon.

even if Revere swings at, and hits balls outside the zone, his weak ground balls tend to turn into infield hits with his speed. Put him on first and you might as well put him on 2nd as he’ll steal it any way. I like Revere hittining 1 with JRoll 2, Utley, Howard, Young, etc. The great thing about 162 games is you can try stuff and change it if it don’t work

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