Results tagged ‘ lineup ’

Should Utley Hit Third Against Lefties?

Chase Utley is 4-for-9 in his last two games, which could be a sign he is coming out of a funk that has lasted for more than a month.

The Phillies hope so.

Since Utley reached a season-high .290 average on Aug. 1, he has hit just .221 with a .280 on-base percentage and a .329 slugging percentage. He has just nine RBIs in 36 games, which is alarming considering he has been hitting third in a lineup that is tied for second in the National League in scoring in that stretch.

Utley’s .771 OPS is easily his worst since he became the Phillies’ everyday second baseman in 2005:

  • 2005: .915
  • 2006: 906
  • 2007: .976
  • 2008: .915
  • 2009: .905
  • 2010: .832
  • 2011: .771

“I think his injuries over the last two or three years have been real serious,” Charlie Manuel said following tonight’s 4-3 loss to St. Louis. “He’s not where he used to be, but I think he’s due to get hot. I think somewhere along the line … I think he’s due to have a little run where he’s hitting the ball good. Hopefully we can get him there before the playoffs start.”

But what if he doesn’t get hot? Utley is hitting .192/.286/.323 against left-handers compared to .289/.365/.474 against right-handers. Manuel already is using a platoon in left field with Raul Ibanez and John Mayberry Jr. because he’s taking advantage of his talent to put the best lineup on the field. So why not move Utley out of the No. 3 hole against left-handers and replace him with Hunter Pence? Pence is hitting .313/.400/.597 against left-handers.

“I don’t know,” said Manuel, asked if he would move Utley out of the No. 3 spot. “It’s hard to say. I don’t like to commit to nothing. Why should I sit here and say something? I might do anything. I don’t know.”

Of course, where would you hit Utley then? Normally, I’d say hit him second because he’s such a high on-base percentage guy, but he’s not getting on base against left-handers. You could hit him fifth. But what’s two spots in the order really going to do? Maybe nothing, but the higher you hit in the order the more plate appearances you get. It could mean just one extra at-bat for Pence in one game against a left-hander, which could mean the difference between a rally or runners left on base. One or two more big hits in last year’s NLCS and the Phillies quite possibly beat the Giants.

Something to think about.

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Rollins Back on Top

Charlie Manuel made his first truly significant lineup change of the season, following one run in 14 innings Sunday against the Mets.

Jimmy Rollins is back on top.

Here’s tonight’s lineup against the Nationals:

  1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
  2. Shane Victorino, CF
  3. Placido Polanco, 3B
  4. Ryan Howard, 1B
  5. Ben Francisco, RF
  6. Raul Ibanez, LF
  7. Pete Orr, 2B
  8. Brian Schneider, C
  9. Cole Hamels, P

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Opening Day 2011

Good news: It has stopped snowing. Bad news: It still feels like football weather.

But I have seen worse weather on Opening Day. Anybody remember the first opener at Citizens Bank Park in 2004? Awful weather. Quick trivia questions: Who hit the first home run at the Bank? Who had the first stolen base? (No cheating.)

Here are today’s starting lineups:

HOUSTON

  1. Michael Bourn, CF
  2. Angel Sanchez, SS
  3. Hunter Pence, RF
  4. Carlos Lee, LF
  5. Bill Hall, 2B
  6. Chris Johnson, 3B
  7. Brett Wallace, 1B
  8. Humberto Quintero, C
  9. Brett Myers, P

PHILLIES

  1. Shane Victorino, CF
  2. Placido Polanco, 3B
  3. Jimmy Rollins, SS
  4. Ryan Howard, 1B
  5. Raul Ibanez, LF
  6. Ben Francisco, RF
  7. Carlos Ruiz, C
  8. Wilson Valdez, 2B
  9. Roy Halladay, P

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The Opening Day Lineup


manuel and utley.jpg

Charlie Manuel has 17 days before he must fill out his Opening Day lineup card.

How will it look?

Here is a mostly educated guess:

  1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
  2. Placido Polanco, 3B
  3. Raul Ibanez, LF
  4. Ryan Howard, 1B
  5. Ben Francisco, RF
  6. Shane Victorino, CF
  7. Carlos Ruiz, C
  8. Wilson Valdez, 2B
  9. Roy Halladay, P

Manuel has hit Victorino second and Polanco fifth a few times this spring, so I suppose that’s a possibility. That would bump Francisco down a spot. But it seems pretty clear Ibanez is his guy to hit third … thanks to us?

“Ibanez, you guys talked me into hitting him third,” Manuel said today in Dunedin. “You were telling me what his career average is hitting third and what he hit last year third and all that.”

Life would be easier for Manuel if he had Chase Utley healthy, but he’s not. That means Manuel has to find new No. 3 and 5 hitters to open the season. Manuel said he isn’t sure how important those spots are to Ryan Howard‘s success in 2011.

“How much? I don’t know,” he said. “The more patient Ryan gets the more balls he’s going to get to hit. I think that’s the key to what kind of year he has.”

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More 2011 Projections

Recently, I wrote about the pitching projections in The Bill James Handbook 2011.

Let’s look today at the hitters:

  1. Jimmy Rollins: .266 with 33 doubles, 5 triples, 15 home runs, 61 RBIs, 87 runs scored and 25 stolen bases (.329 OBP/.424 SLG/.753 OPS). They project Rollins to play in just 136 games. Rollins certainly is hoping to play in much more than that.
  2. Placido Polanco: .295 with 30 doubles, 2 triples, 8 home runs, 62 RBIs and 83 runs scored. (.342/.391/.733).
  3. Chase Utley: .288 with 34 doubles, 2 triples, 26 home runs, 94 RBIs, 99 runs scored and 13 stolen bases (.387/.497/.884). They project Utley to play in just 146 games. If he is healthy, we know Charlie Manuel will have him on the field nearly every game.
  4. Ryan Howard: .276 with 30 doubles, 2 triples, 43 home runs, 133 RBIs and 98 runs scored (.368/.547/.915). James’ crew expects Howard to bounce back from a relatively disappointing 2010.
  5. Shane Victorino: .279 with 31 doubles, 7 triples, 16 home runs, 66 RBIs and 97 runs scored (.343/.431/.774). I know Manuel has said he would consider hitting Rollins fifth, but I’m not believing it until I see it. So for the moment, I’ve got Victorino hitting fifth because it breaks up the lefties and gives Francisco some time to develop into an everyday player without the pressure of hitting behind Howard.
  6. Raul Ibanez: .270 with 31 doubles, 2 triples, 20 home runs, 83 RBIs and 75 runs scored (.343/.446/.789).
  7. Ben Francisco: .271 with 21 doubles, 1 triple, 10 home runs, 38 RBIs, 42 runs scored and 10 stolen bases (.336/.446/.782). James projected these numbers with Francisco playing in 107 games and getting 303 at-bats.
  8. Carlos Ruiz: .270 with 26 doubles, 1 triple, 9 home runs, 51 RBIs and 46 runs scored (.360/.413/.773).

I should have had Domonic Brown in the lineup based on their projections, but I wanted to keep him separate because, well, just look at these numbers. They project he will hit .288 with 33 doubles, 4 triples, 26 home runs, 94 RBIs, 84 runs scored and 28 stolen bases in 548 at-bats(.346/.505/.851). Those are some seriously huge numbers for a rookie. If that happens nobody will be worried about right field and Jayson Werth‘s departure anymore, but I’ve got to think those numbers are high. But if they end up accurate, I think everybody is going to be buying a copy of the handbook for their 2012 fantasy baseball leagues.

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Rollins Back at the Top, Halladay Ready to Go

rollins 1019 2009.jpgTheir World Series aspirations on the line, Charlie Manuel made a significant change to his lineup for Game 6 of the National League Championship Series tonight against the Giants.

Jimmy Rollins is leading off.

It is the first time Manuel has used this lineup this season: 1, Rollins, shortstop; 2. Placido Polanco, third base; 3. Chase Utley, second base; 4. Ryan Howard, first base; 5. Jayson Werth, right field; 6. Victorino, center field; 7. Raul Ibanez, left field; 8. Carlos Ruiz, catcher.

“He’s got more legs underneath him,” Manuel said, referring to Rollins. “His foundation at the plate has been better. The other day when he showed me he could run (Thursday in Game 5) … I’ve always looked at him as our leadoff hitter, and he is the guy. It’s not that Victorino can’t do it. Victorino also has some success in the postseason hitting down in the order in the sixth and seventh hole.”

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Rollins Hits Sixth

Jimmy Rollins is back in the Phillies lineup tonight, but he is not hitting leadoff.

Charlie Manuel is having Rollins hit sixth, and it sounds like it could be for more than just tonight’s series finale against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Manuel thinks Rollins, who has just two hits in his last 23 at-bats, needs a different look. Fifty-four games into the season, Rollins is hitting just .217 with a .257 on-base percentage.

Rollins did not start yesterday, the third time this season Manuel has rested Rollins to try to get him going. Tonight is the fourth time this season Rollins has not hit leadoff. (He hit fifth the previous three times.)

While Rollins has hit .217 overall, he has hit .213 in 48 games in the leadoff spot, which ranks 39th out of 41 hitters who qualify for the statistic. His .249 on-base percentage is worst amongst those 41 leadoff hitters. His .294 slugging percentage is tied for 37th with Milwaukee’s Craig Counsell.

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Matt Stairs is attending his daughter’s high school graduation today, which means the Phillies have just three bench players available: Greg Dobbs, Eric Bruntlett and Chris Coste.

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Live from Cincinnati

Here is the lineup for tonight’s game against the Reds at Great American Ball Park:

  1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
  2. Chase Utley, 2B
  3. Raul Ibanez, LF
  4. Ryan Howard, 1B
  5. Jayson Werth, RF
  6. Shane Victorino, CF
  7. Pedro Feliz, 3B
  8. Carlos Ruiz, C
  9. Cole Hamels, P

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Crisis Averted: Manuel Splits Up Left-handers

Charlie Manuel split up the left-handers in his lineup for tonight’s game against the Braves, which no doubt brings great relief to the masses.

Here is tonight’s lineup:

1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
2. Shane Victorino, CF
3. Chase Utley, 2B
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Jayson Werth, RF
6. Raul Ibanez, LF
7. Pedro Feliz, 3B
8. Carlos Ruiz, C
9. Jamie Moyer, P

Manuel explained that he moved Victorino from sixth to second because he is 4 for 11 (.364) in his career against Jair Jurrjens. Werth is 2 for 6 (.333), and liked him in the No. 5 hole.

I personally like the idea of splitting up the left-handers, but I also understood Manuel stacking the left-handers Sunday on Opening Night. Against a dominant pitcher like Derek Lowe, I think Manuel was playing for the big inning during the first seven or eight innings, rather than worrying about the potential need for a rally in the ninth.

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Grapefruit League Opening Lineup

The Phillies open their Grapefruit League schedule tomorrow afternoon against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Brandenton.

Here’s the starting lineup:

  1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
  2. Shane Victorino, CF
  3. Raul Ibanez, LF
  4. Ryan Howard, 1B
  5. Geoff Jenkins, RF
  6. Matt Stairs, DH
  7. Jason Donald, 2B
  8. Eric Bruntlett, 3B
  9. Chris Coste, C

Every regular other than Jayson Werth, Chase Utley and Pedro Feliz will be making the trip. Jamie Moyer starts. Joe Blanton follows him.

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