Optimizing The 2014 Lineup Vs. Righties

I'm getting pretty bored with this offseason so I thought I'd look ahead to how I'd do the lineup in 2014. The Jays could add pitching but I am not anticipating them adding any starters besides hopefully a 2B (I'm still hoping for Dustin Ackley). The starting position players seems to be fairly set, so I decided to look at how to maximize the production of our lineup. Through this exercise it should be easier to see what type of skill sets would work well on our bench, to help complement our starters. So here it goes..

Some Points About Our Lineup (Vs. Righties):

1. Two Star Hitters

Our lineup is built around Encarnacion and Bautista. Lind and Rasmus are very good hitters against righties, but overall seem to clearly be a step behind EE and Bautista. Reyes is a strong hitter as well, but EE and Bautista are our go to guys with the bat.

Both EE and Bautista are right handed hitters who have shown over their careers that they are better against left handed pitchers. Although both are strong hitters against righties as well, they would both likely be better off facing more lefties. Splitting them up in the lineup would seem to make quite a bit of sense. Opposing teams would not be able to send out a ROOGY to face the two of them consecutively.

Many believe it is best to hit your two best hitters in the 2 and 4 spots in the lineup, so it seems to make even more sense to split them up. Having one in the 3 spot gives them more "none on- two out" situations, so having them hit 2-4 seems to make a lot of sense. Since I believe EE is the superior hitter, I have him hitting 2nd and Bautista hitting 4th.

2. Two Left Handed Hitters Who May Not Be Able To Hit Left Handed Pitching

It seems to be fairly clear that Adam Lind Can't hit lefties. Colby Rasmus seems like he could potentially be respectable against southpaws, but has also had big splits over the course of his career. Both hitters seem to be very strong against righties and below average hitters vs. lefties. It is therefore important to make it hard on opposing managers to match up against them with lefties late in the game. These two hitters should therefore be separated in the order so that one left handed reliever can't face them both in a short span. I also think it is important to have these bats near the top of the order as they are both strong hitters.

3. Two Switch Hitters And A Right Handed Hitter That Doesn't Split Too Much

Both Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera are switch hitters that can hit both sides fairly well. Both players have a near even split vs pitchers from both sides over their careers. I didn't include Dioner Navarro with these two as he has had huge splits over his career and does not seem to be the same type of hitters as these two. I view Navarro as more of a right-handed hitter and I am hoping he gives up hitting from the left side.

Brett Lawrie is a right handed hitter that has actually been better (though not by much) against right handed pitching for his career. I expect him to be slightly better against lefties eventually, but it seems as though he does not favour left-handed pitching or right handed pitching.

I believe Reyes is a superior hitter to both Lawrie and Cabrera. Having said that, I think Reyes should join Rasmus and Lind in the top 5 of the order. Having Rasmus, Lind or Reyes hit outside the top 5 would give them less at bats and would likely hurt the production of our lineup. Lawrie and Melky will be left to join the bottom 4.

4. Top 5- Bottom 4

To summarize what I said above, our best 5 hitters would likely be best served in the top 5 spots in the order. This gives us:

Top 5: Encarnacion, Bautista, Lind, Rasmus, Reyes

Bottom 4: Lawrie, Cabrera, 2B, C

5. How To Get The Most Out Of The Top 5

With Bautista and EE in the 2-4 spots, that leaves the remaining 3 to occupy the 1-3-5 spots in the lineup.

Here's How I Have It: Lind, Encarnacion, Reyes, Bautista, Rasmus

Here's Why: I'll start by explaining Reyes hitting 3rd. With a base open late in the game, Bautista and Encarnacion are likely to be walked. In these situations it is important to have a guy behind them to "protect" our best hitters. In other words, if they want to walk Bautista or EE we would want them to still have to face a good hitter in a key spot. Unfortunately, Rasmus and Lind are not strong hitters against left handed pitchers. A team could bring in a lefty to walk Bautista or EE, then have a very favourable matchup in a key spot. If we counter with a right handed pinch hitter, they can bring in a right handed reliever. So having a switch hitter in between them makes sense.

Reyes is strong from both sides of the plate and would provide fairly good protection for our star hitters. If a team wanted to bring in a ROOGY for both Bautista and EE, they at least have to face Reyes from the left side now. The Jays seem hesitant to have Reyes steal at the beginning of an inning anyways with a lot of home run power behind him. Putting him in the 3 spot would likely give him more at bats with no-one on and 2 out, which would likely be a better time to steal a base anyways. Having a slow player in the leadoff spot doesn't bug me too much, as stealing a bag isn't always worth it with home run hitters waiting to hit.

This also further separates Lind and Rasmus in the lineup. Rather than having them hit 3-5, it is now tougher to have one lefty reliever pitch to both of them. Since Lind has a stronger OBP I have decided to hit him in the leadoff spot, while Rasmus has been placed in the 5 spot.

6. Dioner Navarro Should Hit 9th

Navarro has fairly large splits and hits lefties quite well. Therefore Adam Lind would likely come up against a right handed pitcher more often. This would make the opposing manager make the first move and give us a good late game matchup.

The Lineup

1. Adam Lind (L)

2. Edwin Encarnacion (R)

3. Jose Reyes (S)

4. Jose Bautista (R)

5. Colby Rasmus (L)

6. Brett Lawrie (R)

7. Melky Cabrera (S)

8. 2B

9. Dioner Navarro (S/R)

It looks a little unusual, so I'm not sure too many people will like it. Let me know what you think as always. Look forward to hearing what everyone has to say while we wait for the offseason to pick back up!

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