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Alright, let’s figure out what the 2018 Giants lineup should be

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Until everyone gets injured and, like, Trevor Brown is hitting cleanup.

San Francisco Giants Photo Day Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Lineups mean something. Lineups don’t mean that much. The sabermetric orthodoxy is that the differences between the most extreme lineup permutations can be a couple of wins, but that’s based on lineups that have pitchers hitting leadoff and the best hitter on the team hitting ninth. The differences between lineups that are reasonable and at least half-logical might be worth a win. That’s substantial! And yet it’s not ultra-compelling. Lineups are weird.

At the same time, they’re so much fun to debate and yak about. I would like to yak about lineups.

We’ll have to do lineups with a lefty starting and a righty starting, but the Giants shouldn’t have too much platoon misery going on this year. Or, more specifically, they aren’t going to have that many obvious platoons. Unless Steven Duggar is on the roster and starting half of the time, in which case, oh, baby, will there be an obvious platoon. Still, this isn’t going to be a lineup with huge differences based on lefties or righties starting against them.

What’s the optimal lineup? GLAD YOU ASKED. This is from a Beyond the Box Score article from 2011:

I’m not sure if I buy the fifth-best-hitter idea in the three hole, but the good news is that there isn’t a lot of difference between the Giants’ best hitter and their fifth-best hitter. Unless that’s the bad news. Maybe it’s both? We’ll see.

In this lineup, that sabermetric lineup would go like this against righties:

  1. Andrew McCutchen
  2. Buster Posey
  3. Hunter Pence
  4. Brandon Belt
  5. Evan Longoria
  6. Joe Panik
  7. Brandon Crawford
  8. Austin Jackson (or Gregor Blanco or Steven Duggar)

That’s not bad! It’s also not plausible. I can’t think of a worse fit than Posey in the second spot, considering his penchant for ground balls right to shortstop. Although it would allow for another way to minimize Belt’s contributions if he were put in a spot where he isn’t perfectly suited, so maybe that’s the best lineup. I’m listening, at least.

Mostly, though, I don’t like that because it starts with three righties and stacks the lefties at the bottom, especially if Blanco or Duggar are getting at-bats. I’m a big lefty-righty-lefty guy when possible, and the Giants are definitely making it possible this year.

So with all that in mind, I would like to present the official McCovey Chronicles lineup suggestions for 2018.

Vs. RHP

  1. Andrew McCutchen
  2. Joe Panik
  3. Buster Posey
  4. Evan Longoria
  5. Brandon Belt
  6. Hunter Pence
  7. Brandon Crawford
  8. Steven Duggar/Austin Jackson

That’s a hedge in case Duggar makes the Opening Day roster. But what this has is righty-lefty-righty magic, for the most part, and it has some good hitters in spots where they’ll get more at-bats.

Unless ...

  1. Joe Panik
  2. Andrew McCutchen
  3. Brandon Belt
  4. Buster Posey
  5. Evan Longoria
  6. Brandon Crawford
  7. Hunter Pence
  8. Steven Duggar/Austin Jackson

I could get behind that, too. Especially if Duggar makes the roster. Lots of balance, there. Now let’s do our best to ignore that Duggar barely played last season and isn’t necessarily guaranteed to be a replacement-level player. I’m doing great on that front. He’s basically Brett Gardner’s peak already, and I don’t care if you have opinions about that.

But the official McC lineup is that first one.

Vs. LHP

  1. Austin Jackson
  2. Andrew McCutchen
  3. Buster Posey
  4. Evan Longoria
  5. Brandon Belt
  6. Hunter Pence
  7. Joe Panik
  8. Brandon Crawford

It’s not ideal at the end, but if your worst hitter is Brandon Crawford, it’s probably not a bad thing. Jackson is legitimately good enough against left-handers to put in the leadoff role, and not just because he’s fast-ish and plays center field.

Here’s my guess as to what the lineup will be, though:

Bruce Bochy’s lineup

  1. Austin Jackson
  2. Joe Panik
  3. Andrew McCutchen
  4. Buster Posey
  5. Brandon Belt
  6. Evan Longoria
  7. Hunter Pence
  8. Brandon Crawford

It’s not a bad lineup at all. And, again, the difference between this lineup and the ones I came up with aren’t going to be drastic. They might not be noticeable.

Also, it’s incredibly weird to write “Evan Longoria” and “Andrew McCutchen” into these. I don’t know if that will ever change.

I’m not going to argue too vociferously about Bochy’s lineup. It’ll have the fast-ish center fielder as the leadoff guy. The second baseman bats second, just like the sacred texts suggest. Then there are a bunch of fine hitters, and the guys who the Giants used to rely on will be at the bottom, which is probably a positive development.

I’m also open to any and all suggestions that Belt should be the leadoff hitter, but I think I like McCutchen there, considering he can actually run.

I open the discussion to the floor. Posey at leadoff? Hunter Pence?

Give your opinions, which are worth exactly as much as the paper they’re not printed on. Trust me, you get used to it.