Over at the mothership, I took a look at the best middle-of-the-order combinations in baseball. The Giants do well! But I had to fudge a little, as one part of Roster Resource had Brandon Belt hitting fifth, and another part of the site had Hunter Pence hitting in that slot. It still does seem like an open question as to who will hit where in the Giants' lineup.
It's up to us, then. The Internet. We have to figure this out. It's time to decide on the best Giants lineup for 2016 now that the roster is settled. Who will hit leadoff? Who will hit cleanup? Should Madison Bumgarner hit eighth?
Some of the different possibilities:
The righty-lefty conscious lineup
- Denard Span
- Matt Duffy
- Brandon Belt
- Buster Posey
- Brandon Crawford
- Hunter Pence
- Joe Panik
- Angel Pagan
Are you scared of late-inning relievers and the matchups they set up? This is the lineup for you, with alternating left-right batters throughout. It's a little unconventional -- Brandon Crawford did lead the team in homers last year, but I'm not sure if he's the best #5 hitter in this lineup.
Also, note that I'm assuming Pagan is the starter because I've played knifey-Bochy before.
Last year, basically
When Pence was healthy, this was the lineup, with Denard Span taking Norichika Aoki's place. It's a lineup that J.P. Howell can face in the seventh if Belt is leading off, and it will let him stay in to face the first two batters of the eighth with a 1-2-3 inning. Not that we should be especially worried about Howell, but this goes for left-handed relievers in general. The Giants face the Yankees this year, and they have both Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller.
This seems like a fine way to get the least out of a disparate collection of productive hitters.
If you use the Baseball Musings lineup analysis tool, you get this optimal lineup:
I'm guessing we won't see that lineup a lot. But it's fun to think about. That lineup also scores an estimated 4.876 runs per game, which is good for 789 runs, the most since 2004. I'll take it.
A compromise between the overly dramatic lefty-righty alternating lineup and the rest.
There probably isn't a correct answer -- and left-handed starters would probably make it necessary to flip Duffy with Panik -- but this is the one I'd like to see. Panik and Span don't have platoon splits serious enough to make me worry about the Howell scenario, and the players who do have platoon splits are bookended with players with the opposite platoon splits. There's 20-homer power from #3 through #6, and high OBPs at the top. The leadoff hitter is a speedy feller, and he's followed by a slap-'n'-move prototype of a #2 hitter.
I like this lineup.
I like most of the lineups.
And on August 14th, we'll probably see something like this just because:
- Gorkys Hernandez?
We'll think back to this post and laugh and laugh and laugh and cry and laugh and cry. Until then, post your optimal Giants lineup for 2016.