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What should the Giants’ lineup be for 2017?

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It probably won’t make or break the season, but it’s always fun to discuss.

Division Series - Chicago Cubs v San Francisco Giants- Game Four Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Fast guys hit leadoff. Second basemen hit second. Then there are a bunch of power hitters, followed by the kind of okay hitter, followed by the guys you’re trying to hide, followed by the pitcher.

That is the Giants’ lineup template, and it has been since Freddy Sanchez. Dan Uggla didn’t hit second in his four starts, and that was the real reason the Giants let him go.

What should the lineup be this year, though? Buster Posey could hit cleanup. Or maybe he could lead off. It would limit the double plays, get him more at-bats ... think about it. Okay, now that you’ve rightfully dismissed this idea, we can all admit that he fits anywhere from second to fifth, depending on the permutation. There’s no real wrong answer with him.

We’ll have to do four different lineups because we don’t know who will start in left field.

vs. RHP (Mac Williamson starting)

  1. Denard Span
  2. Joe Panik
  3. Hunter Pence
  4. Brandon Belt
  5. Buster Posey
  6. Brandon Crawford
  7. Mac Williamson
  8. Eduardo Nuñez

The only two back-to-back spots when it comes to hitter-handedness — Span/Panik and Williamson/Nuñez — but the latter duo isn’t a huge concern with platoon splits. The top duo is a little concerning, though, so I’m not against flopping Nuñez and Panik.

I like Pence in the third spot because of his speed and ability to stay out of the double play. He gives up about 30 points of OBP to Posey, though, so I might be overthinking it. But it also gives Posey a faster runner to drive in, rather than hoping Pence can drive in Posey.

If Williamson hits as well as we’re hoping, he can flip with Crawford and balance the lineup a little more. This would be a hard lineup for platoon-fetish managers to match up with in the late innings.

vs. LHP (Mac Williamson starting)

  1. Denard Span
  2. Hunter Pence
  3. Brandon Belt
  4. Buster Posey
  5. Mac Williamson
  6. Brandon Crawford
  7. Eduardo Nuñez
  8. Joe Panik

I ... don’t have a good answer for this one. I’m tempted to put Nuñez at the top because of Span’s struggles last year, but it’s possible those were sample-size gremlins. Span has never been that bad against lefties, and if you take him out, there’s a three-lefty scrum in the middle that could get ugly.

There is about zero chance of this lineup, though, and I would expect the Giants to do something like this:

  1. Denard Span
  2. Eduardo Nuñez
  3. Hunter Pence
  4. Buster Posey
  5. Brandon Belt
  6. Mac Williamson
  7. Brandon Crawford
  8. Joe Panik

Not a bad lineup against lefties. Just one in search of a right-handed savior.

vs. RHP (Jarrett Parker starting)

  1. Denard Span
  2. Joe Panik
  3. Hunter Pence
  4. Brandon Belt
  5. Buster Posey
  6. Jarrett Parker
  7. Brandon Crawford
  8. Eduardo Nuñez

Pretty simple. If Parker struggles to get on base, Crawford could move up, but that’s four home run threats in a row, at least in theory. If Parker isn’t hitting by, like, May or June, he’ll be out of the lineup anyway. If he is hitting, this is a capable bunch.

vs. LHP (Jarrett Parker starting)

  1. Eduardo Nuñez
  2. Hunter Pence
  3. Brandon Belt
  4. Buster Posey
  5. Justin Ruggiano?
  6. Brandon Crawford
  7. Joe Panik
  8. Denard Span

Oh. Oh, my.

I can’t make this game of Rummikub work. I keep shifting the tiles around, and even with the joker, it will never be the right solution. Justin Ruggiano might not make the team, but he’s in here as a fill-in for Not Jarrett Parker. You can use Michael Morse or Gorkys Hernandez, if you’re so inclined.

But if you’re wondering if Jarrett Parker should be the full-time starter, this is a good exercise for you. Even if you ignore his career of hitting poorly against lefties, which you shouldn’t, where do you put him in a vs.-LHP lineup? Fifth? Sixth, above two other lefties? Do you keep Span at leadoff to put Nuñez or Crawford hitting fifth, because you’re not sure about Parker against lefties?

I’m not sure, but I’m pretty sure the lineup against lefties with Parker as the full-time left-fielder would be one of the worst permutations we’ve seen to start a season. It’s not just that we’re guaranteed some misery at the bottom of the order. It’s also that it wraps around to the top of the order, too.

The good news is that there aren’t any left-handers in the NL West. Certainly not on the Dodgers. Unless I’m missing some people.

If you have a vs.-LHP that works with Parker on the team, I’m all for it. The more I look at this roster, though, the more I’m dreading the bi-weekly visits against Rich Hill and Clayton Kershaw. It was a clear problem this entire offseason, and it doesn’t look better in March.

Keep an eye on Justin Ruggiano and Michael Morse, in other words. They might be more important to the Giants than you think.

(Also, this ignores the 30 homers from Jae-gyun Hwang, so adjust your theoretical lineups accordingly. Happy lineupping!)