In the television broadcasts this spring in which Keith Hernandez has been in the booth, he’s provided his insights into the best potential Mets’ batting order.
He said that the best lineup will have length, and I agree. The team isn’t exactly an offensive powerhouse, so it will have to create ways to get the maximum production.
The potential lineup would be the following:
- Jordany Valdespin, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Collin Cowgill, CF
- Ruben Tejada, SS
- Daniel Murphy, 2B
- David Wright, 3B
- Ike Davis, 1B
- Marlon Byrd, RF
- Lucas Duda, LF
- John Buck, C
Let’s start with spots No. 2-8. I like Tejada in the No. 2 hole better than the No. 8 hole. Based on his spring training (though that shouldn’t be the primary indicator), he’s more suited as a guy who can move runners over rather than hit for a high average.
Moving a runner over in the No. 8 hole is useless since the pitcher follows. But in the No. 2 hole, at least Tejada can give Murphy, Wright, Davis, etc. a chance to drive in runs.
Murphy, Wright, Davis, Byrd, Duda and Buck would then create a nice lefty/righty split throughout the lineup. I can’t say that I’m totally sold on lefty/righty matchups, but teams that do set up these matchups will have fits with the Mets’ order.
I would like to see someone (in this case Byrd) bat between Davis and Duda. Both have shown they can strikeout often, and it would be extremely frustrating to see them both strikeout in a row to kill a rally.
Of course, Byrd can potentially strikeout as well, but at least this spring, his contact has been terrific.
Wright is the focal point of the offense, and having him in the cleanup position allows more guys to be on base when he steps to the plate. That of course is dependent on the players in front of him getting on base, but if they do, opposing teams will not be able to pitch around Wright as easily.
The major question mark right now with this lineup is the leadoff spot (and center field for that matter). The Mets don’t have a bona fide candidate to fill both these roles, so they will try to piece together the leadoff man/center fielder position with what they have.
Valdespin has hit well this spring and has good speed, but he definitely does not fit the mold as a leadoff hitter. And his defense in center field is extremely suspect.
Captain Kirk plays a mean center field, but his hitting still leaves much to be questioned.
Cowgill had a nice spring, isn’t a defensive liability and could be the guy who steps up when called upon. A Valdespin/Cowgill platoon – with Cowgill as also a defensive replacement for Spin late in games – could be the optimal solution.
The overall goal with a lineup should be to extend a rally as long as possible. Keeping this potential middle of the order together can do that, even if it’s a little suspect at the very top.
In a perfect world, all three leadoff guys burst out of the gate, giving Terry Collins a tough decision on who to start. Let’s hope it’s not the other way around in that Collins is forced to struggle with the choice since all three are slumping.