First, a disclaimer: I was very reluctant to do this for two reasons. First of all, Team USA manager Joe Torre has forgotten more about baseball than I'll ever know. And secondly, I generally hate whining about lineup orders.
But I'm charging forward because the batting order Team USA trotted out Friday night was flat-out abysmal in my opinion. I'm not saying this because Team USA lost, and I have the pre-game tweets to prove it.
|World Baseball Classic|
We'll start at the top. The old-school idea of a leadoff man is a middle-infielder or center fielder with speed. So we get Jimmy Rollins. But here's the rub: Rollins is a poor leadoff man in regular-season baseball and has been for years. A leadoff man should be a table-setter. Rollins had a .316 on-base percentage last year. And that segues nicely into my second major complaint.
Why is Joe Mauer hitting cleanup? A cleanup hitter by name should be a power hitter who can "clean up" the bases. Mauer has only hit more than 13 homers in a season one time and had 10 last year. His career slugging percentage is .468. And guess what? Mauer led the AL in on-base percentage at .416 last year. He gets on base 10 percent more often than Rollins. But since he's a catcher by trade and doesn't often steal bases, the old-school mindset forbids him from batting first.
Giancarlo Stanton, meanwhile, was batting seventh for Team USA. This is the best power hitter on the planet; the man who led the majors in slugging percentage last season. And he saw zero plate appearances through two innings. The three-hole is for the team's best all-around hitter, so Ryan Braun was one of the few Team USA hitters slotted properly, but how is Stanton not the cleanup hitter?
Also, why is J.P. Arencibia playing? He hit .233 with a .275 on-base percentage last year. He has some power, but good lord that's a ton of outs he makes. He's a fine defensive catcher, but it's not like we're going to mistake him for Yadier Molina back there. Just catch Mauer (he served as the designated hitter Friday night) and get Ben Zobrist (.270/.377/.471, good for a 138 OPS-plus last season) in the order.
So let's compare. Here was Joe Torre's lineup Friday night:
Here's what I would propose:
1. Joe Mauer, C
2. Ben Zobrist, DH
3. Ryan Braun, LF
4. Giancarlo Stanton, RF
5. David Wright, 3B
6. Adam Jones, CF
7. Brandon Phillips, 2B
8. Eric Hosmer, 1B
9. Jimmy Rollins, SS
Again, Joe Torre is worlds ahead of me in terms of baseball knowledge, but I'll take my lineup 100 times out of 100 over his.
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