Why Is He Hitting Second? – The MLB Has Had A Changing Of What The 2 Hitters Role Is
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Tuesday June 4th, 2013
Bernie Olshansky (Baseball Writer): Follow @BernieOlshansky
Why is [insert name of team’s best hitter] in the two-hole?—a question many confused fans are asking about their team’s lineup. It is interesting. A few teams—the Yankees for some time, the Blue Jays, the Twins, and the Angels are slotting a player who people would normally see in the three-hole as the number two hitter. I’ll take a look at the Blue Jays first.
One can make the case that Jose Bautista is the best hitter on the Toronto Blue Jays. Edwin Encarnacion had a great year last year and is staying on that pace, but ‘JoeyBats’ has been consistent for the past few years.
The two-hitter should mostly make contact and move runners over if needed. Them also being Left-Handed enhances the chance to hit one through the hole created by the First Baseman holding on the Leadoff hitter – if on base.
He also needs some speed. Bautista definitely has the pop part, but you will not see him lay down a bunt to get the leadoff guy over. I know the Blue Jays are struggling, but should he really be hitting in the two-hole?
Yet another guy who should not be hitting second is Robinson Cano. An argument can be made that Cano is one of the best hitters in the league. Placing a guy with as much power as Cano has in the two-hole is just dumb.
In an ideal situation at the beginning of the game, the maximum number of runs he could drive in is two. And, if Brett Gardner gets on and Cano hits a double that does not score Gardner, the Yankees have to rely on Vernon Wells, Kevin Youkilis, or the mix of three-hitters to drive the two in.
Against Right Handed Pitchers, the club should use Ichiro Suzuki in the two spot. Now that Mark Teixeira is back in the fold, you may even have him hit up their. At least he also walks. Things will change furthermore with the eventual return of Derek Jeter.
If I were a Yankee fan, I would feel much more comfortable with my two hitter moving Brett Gardner over for Cano. There’s a reason Cano needs to be in the three-hole: In a full season, he has never driven in less than 72 runs. He gets the job done.
Another peculiar two-hitter is Joe Mauer. The Twins’ lineup is definitely in shambles, but why hit the Minneapolis native second? He is definitely a gap-to-gap guy, but he lacks speed. I can understand keeping him out of the three-hole because of his lack of HR power, but the third slot in the lineup is generally reserved for the best hitter on the team.
I do not think that the argument can be made that Josh Willingham is a better hitter than Joe Mauer. I would rather have a higher average guy in the three spot than a guy who strikes out a bunch and hits for a low average while occasionally hitting a HR. The Twins lack a leadoff hitter that can get on base, so it is usually up to Mauer to set the table.
Mauer is undoubtedly capable of getting on base, but there is no way the Twins can count on him to steal a bag and get over for the three and four hitters.
The final two-hitter that I will discuss has a reason to hit where he is. Mike Trout is a great two-hitter. He has a great amount of speed, a lot of power, and great base running ability. The Angels can also afford Trout hitting second with Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, and Mark Trumbo hitting behind him.
An interesting idea would be to see how Joey Votto would take to hitting second. The Reds have a lot of lineup depth, so experimenting with this could be done. Votto is having a nice year as it is, so I highly doubt the Reds would want to tinker with anything.
Really, it is all about if a team can afford a typical three-hole guy hitting second. In my opinion the Twins cannot afford to do so. Neither can the Blue Jays. The Yankees are doing fine, so Cano hitting second is not that big of a deal. The Angels also have great hitters in their lineup so Trout hitting second is not an atrocity.
I understand teams moving struggling sluggers around in the lineup to ignite their bats. This is a good strategy as it takes some of the pressure off. At points in the season, hitters press a little more than they should and need to be reminded that there are other guys on the team. Overall though, I do not believe the two-hole is a great spot for a power hitter.
***The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com or their partners***
Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer Bernie Olshansky. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Bernie on Twitter. Follow @BernieOlshansky
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Posted on June 4, 2013, in MLB Player Profiles, MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis, Players: Fantasy Baseball Articles, The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged albert pujols, baseball, brandon phillips, brett gardner, cincinnati reds, edwin encarnacion, hitting, jay bruce, joe mauer, joey votto, jose bautista, josh hamilton, josh willingham, kevin youkilis, lineups, los angeles angels, mark trumbo, Mike Trout, minnesota twins, mlb, new york yankees, robinson cano, todd frazier, toronto blue jays, vernon wells, zack cozart. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Why Is He Hitting Second? – The MLB Has Had A Changing Of What The 2 Hitters Role Is.