The vast majority of baseball coaches set up their lineups in the traditional format, and it’s my belief that they’re costing themselves runs – which means they’re costing themselves wins. Some easy updates to a lineup can make a huge difference for your team.
Here’s how most coaches construct their lineup:
Fastest player – gets on base and wreaks havoc on the base paths.
Contact guy – can use hit bat to get the leadoff guy to the next base. Someone who can lay down a bunt, hit and run, etc.
Best hitter – has the highest OPS. He’s the one who will drive in the leadoff hitter.
Power hitter – hits the ball hard and far. OBP tends to be ignored here.
Power hitter #2 –hits the ball hard and far, but not quite as hard and far as #4.
Best remaining OBP guy – starts the lineup again after the power hitters, so OBP is valued here.
Whatever’s leftover – his goal is to not strikeout and hopefully be a catalyst to move #6 up a base.
Lowest OBP guy – the weakest hitter in the lineup. Fingers crossed that he does something good.
Fastest remaining player – the second leadoff hitter. Get on base and steal.
Here’s how we believe coaches should construct their lineup:
Best OBP – speed should be ignored here in favor of whoever gets on base the most, since he’ll have the highest number of plate appearances.
Highest OPS – will bat with a guy on 1st base a lot, so someone who can get on base and hit for a high slugging percentage is important so that he can drive in the leadoff guy with doubles. A high OBP is important because whenever the leadoff guy gets out, you want this guy to get on base.
Highest SLG – the goal is to always have a runner on base when this guy gets to the plate, so we want someone who gets tons of XBHs. Even if there’s only a runner at 1B, the 3-hitter should drive him home often.
Next highest OPS – should have a decent amount of opportunities to drive in runs with XBHs, so SLG is important, especially because he will often bat with 2 outs and a runner on base, and it’s easier to have this guy hit a double to drive in a runner than it is to have him and the 5-hitter to hit back-to-back singles.
Highest remaining OBP – over the course of a season, this guy will leadoff the second inning more often than any other hitter. His most important job is to get on base. The plus is that he’ll have a handful of opportunities to drive in runs.
Best remaining OBP – this guy will tend to leadoff quite a few innings, in addition to coming to the plate with the bases empty relatively often. So here we’re looking for a leadoff-type hitter, meaning someone who gets on base.
Best remaining OBP – we want someone who gets on base, as this hitter will often hit with the bases empty.
Best remaining OPS – the 8-hitter will come to the plate with runners on quite a bit, so we want the best guy available to drive in runs with a combination of OBP and SLG.
Whatever’s left – some teams will opt to put the better hitter in the 8-spot and the worst hitter in the 9th spot. However, the 8-hitter is guaranteed to be at the plate more often than the 9-hitter over the course of the season, so getting him the extra plate appearances in hopes of scoring the team more runs is more important to us than having the traditional second leadoff hitter in the 9-hole,
Max Price is the Head Coach at South Salem High School in Salem, OR. You can follow him on Twitter @MrMaxPrice.