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Batting order discussions tend to bring two strong opinions about the discussion, itself: (1) batting order doesn’t matter, this is stupid; or (2) batting order is everything, and the Cubs keep losing games because of it.

And that’s before you even get into actually tussling about the batting order.

I reckon we’ll see these disputes play out over the next few weeks, because, when it comes to the Cubs’ batting order, there are a dozen reasonable permutations. Not because the Cubs have so many great options, you see.

Dale Sveum recently the discussed the issue, through the lens of where to bat Starlin Castro:

Sveum has plenty of options for Castro, including the leadoff spot, but doesn’t seem fixated on just one role for his young hitter.

“It’s an intriguing question, and a lot of lineups are going to be out by the way guys perform in spring training because right now going in we don’t have that bona fide leadoff, that bona fide third, fourth, fifth hitter, so we’ve got some guys that have had some success but not super at the big-league level,” Sveum said. …

“You can make numbers look any way you want but there’s always that decision to make with great hitters like [Castro],” Sveum said. “When do we put him in that three or four or five spot? It comes a time where you can’t just sit there all the time like he’s comfortable in the two spot and leave him there when we need him in other spots.”

For now, I don’t see how you can justify batting Castro anywhere other than one of the top three spots in the order, primarily because you want him getting the most at bats on your team. Eventually, Castro is going to develop into a middle of the order hitter, and so I can see the reason to bat him 3rd this year (his struggles there last season notwithstanding).

  • Beer Baron

    Against righties:

    1. DeJesus
    2. Byrd
    3. Castro
    4. LeHair
    5. Soto
    6. Stewert
    7. Soriano
    8. Barney

    And against lefties:

    1. R Johnson
    2. Byrd
    3. Castro
    4. Soto
    5. Baker
    6. Soriano
    7. LeHair/Stewert/Cardenas (play the hot hand with Baker playing either 1st or 3rd)
    8. Barney

    With a roster this bad, I think you have to platoon some guys based on match-up. I was shocked to see how bad DeJesus’ splits were against LHP last year (.174/.227/.231) , although the rest of his career wasn’t nearly so bad so he might be servicable, but I would bench him against most lefties in favor of Johnson or Sappelt (yes Sappelt will make the roster, not Campana). I also expect Cardenas (or DeWitt if he some how makes the team) to get a decent number of starts between 2nd and 3rd.

    Another sad thought — when your starting line-up is this weak, imagine what your bench is like when you need to call on a pinch hitter. Yuck.

  • Deer

    What is this Byrd batting #2 talk? The #2 hitter needs to be one of the more patient hitters, move the runner along, etc. That ain’t Byrd, but unfortunately i cannot find a clear alternative if Castro is hitting 3rd.

    • DocWimsey

      If Theo’s Cubs are like Theo’s Sox, then there will be no more of this “moving runners along” nonsense! Again, think Earl Weaver…..

      • Deer

        right, because good teams never do that, only the confused bad ones, got it.

        • Edwin

          Moving runners along isn’t “nonsense”, but it probably shouldn’t be the top priority for a #2 hitter. Drawing a walk or getting a hit is a more efficient way to move a runner over. There’s nothing wrong with moving a runner into scoring position, but giving up outs to do it is inefficient.

          • DocWimsey

            The problem is that “try to hit it to right” morphed into “make weak contact to the right side.” Of course, once pitchers became aware of the tactic, they then started to try to bust guys inside in those situations: which made “hit it to right” identical to “make weak contact to the right side.”

            The funny thing is that I’ll be that the Sox got more hits to right with men on 2nd than the Cubs did, not simply because the Sox got a lot more hits than the Cubs (although that helps), but because pitchers knew that the batters would take right-side-of-the-plate strikes to left field. So, they would throw pitches to the other side of the plate, which could be hit solidly to right.

  • Steve

    It’s a no brainer….Brian Roberts leads off and Castro bats second.

    • A_Mazz_Ing

      Only when Jake Peavy is pitching for us though.

      • BetterNews

        Ha.

  • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

    Best hitter bats second. Castro is the best hitter. Castro should bat second.

    • fromthemitten

      I agree, he doesn’t hit for enough power to justify being a 3-4-5 hitter but he can get on base and move the leadoff hitter. The Yankees did the same with Jeter and he turned out ok

  • DocWimsey

    Here is an interesting fact concerning batting orders. The NL team with the worst production from their leadoff batters? The Cardinals!

    The other 7 playoff teams all ranked in the top 10 for leadoff production. The four most productive teams got 25+ HR from their guys, too. (Only the Yanks and Cards got fewer than 10: but remember that the Yanks used Gardner, who is that high OBP, low SLG guy, instead of Jeter.)

  • MartyK

    I’d love to see Campana turn out to be good enough to lead off and play LF (he doesn’t have the arm for center). If he learns to bunt and hits .265 he’d score a lot of runs. But that would mean Soriano would have to be gone and we’d need power from other position(s). So, if I had to make out a line up card right now it would be:

    Castro
    DeJesus
    Stewart
    Soriano (put up or shut up, buddy)
    LeHair
    Byrd
    Soto
    Barney

  • jim

    Castro not good in three spot last year.

    • DocWimsey

      This actually relates to the issue of comparing averages (which I think that I accidentally started, for which I apologize!).  You cannot compare averages from different slots: you need to compare the actual number of hits in opportunities and ask whether you need two true “rates” to account for those numbers.  In Castro’s case, the answer is “no.”  The movie Bull Durham summarized it well: just a few floaters dropping or a few liners getting caught makes a huge difference on your batting average!

      • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

        Nothing to apologize about Doc, the only thing to blame is a broken education system and the death of logical discourse.

  • cubfan

    Dejesus
    Barney
    Castro
    Stewart
    Soriano
    Soto
    Lahair
    Byrd

    This is the lineup we should be looking at to start the year. We need to put Soriano and Soto in positions to pad there stats. The better they do, the easier it is to trade them at the deadline and the more we will get in return.
    Hopefully later in the year this will be the lineup we are going to Wrigley to watch.

    Jackson
    Dejesus
    Castro
    Rizzo
    Stewart
    Byrd
    Barney
    Castillo

  • die hard

    bat him 1st in the Baltimore O’s lineup and Adam Jones 3rd in Cubs lineup….

  • BetterNews

    Cubbiecop-Soriano will NOT be benched. Neither Campana or Johnson will be starting.

  • Cubbiecop

    I’m thinking Soriano’s numbers will continue to decline, while he is still in good shape his bat speed has slowed down tremendously. Plus the fact that he uses a bat that is the almost as big as he is. Go with a smaller, lighter bat SOriano and see is that helps you make contact better. Ohh, and stay away from teh slider on the outer half for gods sake!!!!!!!

    • BetterNews

      Cubbiecop-I’ve wondered about Soriano too, but I see his numbers still up there for next year, maybe even better. Why do I say that? I don’t know, just a gut feeling with all the changes that have taken place.

  • Cubbiecop

    Better news. If Soriano sucks as bad as i’m thinking he will Svem might have the balls to bench him. We will see….

  • BetterNews

    There will be no platooning! I love it.
    http://www.myteamreport.com/sports/chicago/cubs

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