If batting order doesn’t really matter, then why am I so annoyed?
Hank Schulman has been tweeting about the batting order today, specifically Joe Panik’s place in it:
So, Bochy had been saying he would stick a LHH somewhere in the top five to break up the righties against LHPs. Here's a solution. Panik #2. Not a bad idea to have a good bat-handler behind a guy who can still run some. Then again, Belts out, so maybe it would be him? #SFGiants https://t.co/Qduur5k1DC— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) March 22, 2018
Wasn't a comment on him so much as the team. This is still going to be a move-the-line offense that needs two or three hits to score a run. The #SFGiants need their leadoff guy to get on base. Even Panik would tell you he's not happy with last year's numbers. https://t.co/ZNjKkdK855— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) March 22, 2018
It’s probably really dumb to get hung up on the batting order when every hitter is a singles hitter, but for some reason, the Giants’ steadfast refusal to even publicly consider (through the media) what might be both the best performing and most aesthetically pleasing lineup they can cobble together is really annoying. And, I gotta say, it’s really too early in the season to be this annoyed.
The only Giant who fits the OBP and “can still run some” description for the leadoff dude is Brandon Belt. And, oh baby, is that never gonna happen.
Look, if you ask me, the best lineup (which also happens to fit Bochy’s aesthetic) is this:
Flip Posey and Belt and Crawford and Jackson against lefties, if you must, but otherwise that should be it. That should be the lineup. And if Panik somehow struggles at the top, then, sure, stick Jackson in the leadoff spot if you must, Bochy, but know the speedy centerfielder at the top of the order routine is beyond cliché at this point. There are simply better leadoff options on the current roster than Austin Jackson. I’m not suggesting Duggar start over him, either, but that prioritizing him based on his generic skillset while ignoring his specific performance over the generic skillset and specific performances of others would frankly disprove the idea that the Giants have changed direction in their thinking and are trying to be “more analytic”. Yes, that’s right: if the Giants don’t agree with me then they’re being anti-sabermetric, even though I have not made an adequate sabermetric argument.
We should expect dear ol’ Bruce to be back on his Bochness and Panik, the second baseman, batting second in the batting order. And the centerfielder leading off. NEVER MIND that Austin Jackson’s career OBP from the leadoff spot is 10 points lower than Joe Panik’s overall career OBP or that Joe Panik already auditioned for Bochy in the leadoff role two seasons ago and did great or that batting McCutchen 2nd is an interesting power, OBP, and speed threat ahead of power/OBP machines… there are some habits old managers just can’t shake. But maybe we’ll be surprised.
Still, today’s tweets from a familiar character in this great baseball drama felt like a return to old ideas and an embrace of the comfortable numbness that comes with baseball orthodoxy.