Results tagged ‘ lineup ’

Revere Gets Break, Should Hit Eighth Upon Return

Russell Martin, Ben RevereI offered my Phillies lineup a few times in Spring Training and always had Ben Revere hitting eighth, even without Carlos Ruiz and Delmon Young available. People thought I was crazy.

He hit .294 last season!

He has so much speed!

But Revere also has ZERO power. He had 150 hits last season, just 19 extra-base hits and no home runs. He does not get on base unless he is hitting. He averaged 3.61 pitches per plate appearance last year, which ranked 121st out of 144 qualifying players in baseball. In comparison, Jimmy Rollins averaged 3.70, which ranked 100th. I found it ironic that fans tired of Rollins’ impatience at the plate begged Charlie Manuel to have somebody with even less patience hit leadoff.

I asked Twins manager Ron Gardenhire in Spring Training about Revere. He said, “He’s a .300 hitter. He didn’t walk a lot. He didn’t take a lot of pitches. But the kid can put the barrel on it. He finds different ways to get on, whether it’s dropping a drag bunt, he outruns balls. The walks … I think as he gets more experience, he’ll probably learn to take a few more pitches here and there. And if they ask him to do that, Ben can do that. But Ben likes to swing.”

Revere is not starting today’s series finale against the Pirates. It is the first game he has not started this season. He is hitting .207 with one triple, four RBIs, five stolen bases, four walks and 14 strikeouts. His 53 ground balls and 7.57 ground ball-to-fly ball ratio lead baseball. He has had enormous difficulty getting the ball out of the infield. Manuel will never take my advice when it comes to the lineup — he has Chase Utley and Ryan Howard hitting back-to-back against Pirates right-hander James McDonald today, making things easy for Pirates manager Clint Hurdle late in the game — but when Revere returns he should hit eighth, especially with Ruiz in the lineup beginning Sunday. It shouldn’t even be a question in his mind. If Revere gets on base he can try to make things happen from that spot. But with the rest of the personnel at Manuel’s disposal it doesn’t make sense to hit him higher.

Here’s my lineup, against both righties and lefties (with Ruiz and Young):

  1. Jimmy Rolllins, SS
  2. Chase Utley, 2B
  3. Michael Young, 3B
  4. Ryan Howard, 1B
  5. Delmon Young, RF
  6. Carlos Ruiz, C
  7. Domonic Brown/John Mayberry Jr., LF
  8. Ben Revere, CF

Long Overdue: Utley and Howard Split Up in Lineup

Rob McElhenney Talks Utley, Howard and PhilliesCharlie Manuel made a noticeable change to his lineup today at Citizens Bank Park.

He finally split up Chase Utley and Ryan Howard with right-handed-hitting Michael Young.

I think it was long overdue.

Theoretically, it should make life more difficult for left-handed pitchers. Utley entered the game against the Pirates hitting .125 (2-for-16) with one triple, one RBI, two walks and five strikeouts against lefties this season. Howard entered the night hitting .111 (2-for-18) with two doubles, one RBI, one walk and 10 strikeouts against them.

But their struggles against lefties are not coming from a small sample size. Utley has hit .197 with a .634 OPS against lefties from 2011-13. Howard has hit .199 with a .608 OPS against lefties in that span.

They essentially have been automatic outs against lefties for two-plus seasons. Young has not been much better this year, hitting .200 (3-for-15) against lefties, although he has a much more than respectable .832 OPS against them from 2011-13. But simply having a right-handed hitter between Utley and Howard will make opposing managers think a little more late in games. Before Wednesday, managers could just run a left-handed reliever to the mound to face Utley and Howard in succession. Now the lefty will have to face a right-handed hitter, or the manager has to remove him from the game, if he does not want him facing Young.

“I can see how that would be beneficial,” Utley said.

It also makes perfect sense to keep this look against right-handed starting pitchers, too, but Manuel was noncommittal.

“I could,” he said. “It depends how we match up.”

He absolutely should use this look against right-handers, too. By having Utley and Howard hit back-to-back against a right-handed starter the Phillies essentially are banking on getting to the starter in the first five or six innings. If they don’t, which often has been the case this season, things get easy again for the opposing manager late in the game.

So What’s Manuel’s Lineup?

rollins 0517So, if everybody is healthy, what do you think Charlie Manuel‘s Opening Day lineup will be?

That’s a big if, obviously. Chase Utley hasn’t played in a single Grapefruit League game since 2010 and Delmon Young could miss the first couple weeks of the season because of an injured ankle. But if everybody is healthy, what will it be?

Here’s my best guess:

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

Here is what Manuel said about Delmon Young hitting fifth, providing that right-handed power like Pat Burrell and Jayson Werth in the past:

“Yeah, he can hit fifth,” he said. “He definitely can hit fifth. I think once we get to Spring Training and put him in and let him play, I think hitting is definitely his strong point. I think he’s a good hitter.”

Where is Revere hitting?

“He can hit in the top of the lineup to somewhere down toward the bottom. It kind of depends on how he looks. I have seen the guy hit three times. I don’t go on somebody telling me where he can hit. I go on what I see, once I see him.”

If Delmong Young hits five, can Michael Young hit second?

“Yeah. First of all, we can do a lot of things. But also, too, as I explained, if we are going to give people time off and things like that, then we will have different lineups. We are going to have completely different lineups sometimes.”

Note: Scream so hard your face turns red, but I don’t see Rollins moving out of the leadoff spot. That could change once the season starts or if Manuel falls in love with Revere, but Manuel likes Rollins at the top of the lineup.

Opening Day Lineup: Take 1

Charlie Manuel, Chase UtleyCharlie Manuel talked a bit about his 2013 lineup this afternoon at Citizens Bank Park:

“Who we’ve got on the corners in the outfield, that’s who’s going to dictate where our lineup falls.”

For the moment, the Phillies have Darin Ruf, Domonic Brown, John Mayberry Jr. and Laynce Nix in the corners. Everybody in the organization would like to see them add a reliable, proven, right-handed-power-hitting corner outfielder, but nothing has happened yet. If nothing happens before Spring Training, Manuel will have to work with Ruf, Brown, Mayberry and Nix.

He said “without a doubt” the Phillies could platoon in both left and right field.

“But at the same time that’s something that will have to be worked out,” Manuel said. “If it’s what we’ve got right now, if that’s what we’ve got to go with, I think going into Spring Training I’ll play everybody and just see what happens. … We’ll just wait and see. Since we’ve been here our organization has always tried to improve our team, and if we can that’s what we’re going to do.”

Hey, maybe Ruben Amaro Jr. has something up his sleeve.

“I’m not leaning into that,” Manuel said. “I’m always going to fish. Of course I want him to get somebody good or big or whatever, but at the same time I think we’ve gotten much better. Young is definitely going to help us. So is Ben.”

Knowing it is only Dec. 10 and plenty can change before the Phillies’ April 1 season opener in Atlanta, here’s my best guess at Manuel’s Opening Day lineup:

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A Bottom Heavy Offense

Something (kind of) interesting happened last night at Citizens Bank Park.

Placido Polanco went 2 for 4 to raise his batting average to .254. The guy who was hitting .196 on Tuesday now has a higher batting average than Hunter Pence (.253), Shane Victorino (.241) and Jimmy Rollins (.216). That shows you how much those three have struggled lately, but it also shows you how quickly a couple good games this early in the season can spike a batting average.

Rollins, Pence and Victorino combined to go 0-for-12 in last night’s 5-1 loss to the Cubs. The rest of the lineup, excluding the pitcher’s spot, went 7-for-19.

Phillies No. 3 hitters are last in baseball with a .497 OPS. Their cleanup hitters are 19th with a .715 OPS. Rollins and Pence have primarily held those two spots, but a lack of production is a lineup-wide problem. The only two spots in the lineup, excluding the pitcher’s spot, that rank in the top half in baseball in OPS are No. 6 (13th with a .750 OPS) and No. 7 (fourth with a .865 OPS). Ty Wigginton, Laynce Nix and Carlos Ruiz have hit sixth in 12 of the team’s 20 games. Ruiz and Nix have hit seventh in 15 of the 20 games.

Nix (1.052), Wigginton (.875) and Ruiz (.796) lead the team in OPS among players with 20 or more at-bats.

Here is a ranking of the lineup’s most productive spots in the order this season, based on OPS:

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Pence Injures Left Shoulder; Day-to-Day

For the first time this season Charlie Manuel did not write Hunter Pence’s name into the starting lineup.

A much needed break in the midst of a 0-for-15 slump?

Not exactly. Pence injured his left shoulder diving for a ball in the third inning in yesterday’s series finale against the Padres at PETCO Park. John Mayberry Jr. is the rightfielder for tonight’s series opener against the Diamondbacks at Chase Field.

Ruben Amaro Jr. said Pence is day-to-day.

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Has Polanco Lost Bat Speed?

Charlie Manuel continues to tinker, searching for a way to score a few more runs a little more consistently.

He settled on his 10th different lineup in 12 games for tonight’s series finale against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. He put Juan Pierre in the leadoff spot for the fifth time this season, which landed John Mayberry Jr. a spot on the bench. He also started Ty Wigginton at third base, putting Placido Polanco on the bench.

Polanco is really struggling. He is hitting .179 (7-for-39) with one double and one RBI. He is not hitting balls hard and he has six strikeouts, giving him one strikeout every 6.83 plate appearances. That statistic is noteworthy because Polanco struck out just once every 11.89 plate appearances last season, which was the third-best mark in baseball. In his career, Polanco has struck out just once every 14.72 plate appearances.

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Thome, Pierre Get the Start

Charlie Manuel hinted yesterday Jim Thome would play today in the series finale against the Pirates at PNC Park.

Here’s today’s lineup:

  1. Juan Pierre, LF
  2. Shane Victorino, CF
  3. Jimmy Rollins, SS
  4. Hunter Pence, RF
  5. Jim Thome, 1B
  6. Ty Wigginton, 3B
  7. Freddy Galvis, 2B
  8. Brian Schneider, C
  9. Vance Worley, P

Manuel is looking for a little offense. Just a little. Because the Phillies have scored just two runs in 19 innings this season, and just three in 36 innings dating to the second inning in Game 4 of the NLDS.

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Grapefruit League opener

The Phillies’ Grapefruit League opener is today.

Here is the Phillies’ lineup:

  1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
  2. Shane Victorino, CF
  3. Hunter Pence, RF
  4. Jim Thome, DH
  5. Ty Wigginton, 3B
  6. John Mayberry Jr., 1B
  7. Domonic Brown, LF
  8. Erik Kratz, C
  9. Michael Martinez, 2B

Cole Hamels starts.

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Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here!

Finally, A ‘W’

Is everybody feeling better?

A few notes from yesterday’s s victory over the Mets, which snapped an eight-game losing streak:

  • You could feel a little extra energy in the clubhouse before the 9-4 victory because players knew they finally had their everyday lineup on the field. It was just the fifth time they’ve that since Hunter Pence joined the team. (They’re 5-0 in those games.) It was just the 16th time this season they’ve had that, including Domonic Brown or Ben Francisco. (They’re 12-4 in those games.)
  • Roy Halladay improved to 19-6. Halladay (2005-11) will be the sixth pitcher in baseball history to finish at least seven games over .500 in seven or more consecutive seasons. The other pitchers to do that are in the Hall of Fame: Tim Keefe (seven years, 1883-89), John Clarkson (nine, 1884-92), Kid Nichols (nine, 1890-98), Christy Mathewson (12, 1903-14) and Lefty Grove (seven, 1927-33).
  • Antonio Bastardo continues to struggle. He is saying the slider doesn’t feel good coming out of his hand. I’ve got to think his confidence is shot, too. Whatever the case, Bastardo has three games to figure out things before the postseason. He said he hopes to pitch one or two more times to see if he can get that feel back. If he can’t? I think they go with the right-handers. (What other choice do they have?) We saw Vance Worley taking over for Bastardo in the seventh inning. He could be an option, along with Mike Stutes and Brad Lidge.

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