It’s almost here!!! Spring training!!! I am so ready. Sports, my usual life, some how betrayed me: A-Rod and steroids, 103 other players and steroids, Michael Phelps and the whole marijuana thing, Roberto Alomar being sued for not telling his ex girlfriend he has AIDS, Miguel Tejada charged with lying to Congress, I mean, when will it end?
To pass the time, I got a pet. Not as cool as it sounds. I got one on my ipod, and I named his Dustin Pedroia.
There he is! My pet, Dustin Pedroia. It was that or Jacoby Ellsbury, those names fit him more than anything else.
I was recently reading an article by Thomas Harding who was talking about the projected lineup for the Rockies. Here’s how he laid it out:
1. CF: Ryan Spilborghs
BA: 0.313, SLG: 0.468, OBP: 0.407
2. SS: Troy Tulowitzki
BA: 0.263, SLG: 0.401, OBP: 0.332
3. 1B: Todd Helton
BA: 0.264, SLG: 0.388, OBP: 0.391
4. 3B: Garrett Atkins
BA: 0.286, SLG: 0.452, OBP: 0.328
5. RF: Brad Hawpe
BA: 0.283, SLG: 0.498, OBP: 0.381
6. 2B: Clint Barmes
BA: 0.290, SLG: 0.468, OBP: 0.322
7. LF: Seth Smith
BA: 0.259, SLG: 0.435, OBP: 0.350
8. C: Chris Iannetta
BA: 0.264, SLG: 0.505, OBP: 0.390
I like it, it’s a good batting order, which is one of the most crucial elements in offense. However, I thought about it and decided that if fate allowed me, I would develop my own:
1. CF: Ryan Spilborghs
2. 2B: Clint Barmes
3. 1B: Todd Helton
4. 3B: Garrett Atkins
5. RF: Brad Hawpe
6. SS: Troy Tulowitzki
7. C: Chris Iannetta
8. LF: Seth Smith
I didn’t change a lot, but enough that I think it would change things. And I’d like to explain to the world why I did what I did. I really only think Rockies fan would care about this, I’d be interested in hearing about what you think the projected line up should be.
I put Ryan Spilborghs first. It’s very common for him to be the lead off man, however, he shared his position with, now Reds player, Willy Taveras. I think there will be added pressure for him to perform being in a full time position, and I do admit that I have my concerns with him. He better not perform like he did in the Mexican Pacific League, he ended the season with like… a 0.209 BA. Something very unimpressive. However, I didn’t base my decision off how he performed then. His 2008 season was overall good, Spilborghs is a good slugger and can work the count, an important trait. His biggest fault? He’s no Taveras when it comes to speed, Spilborghs isn’t known for his base stealing ability.
Clint Barmes is a great player, and he proved it. After he got sent back down to the minors, he worked hard to get back to the show. It was impressive. I didn’t put Tulowitzki at second, and part of that might have to do with the fact that he was plagued with injuries last season which had a devastating effect on his stats. I believe that Clint Barmes is a contact hitter, he rarely struck out last season. It’s true Tulowitzki struck out less, but I think that Tulo doesn’t have the patience that Barmes does. I also think that being sent back down to the minors had a pretty profound effect on Barmes’ attitude. He knows what it’s like to make it to the show and be sent back down, and I think that’s something that makes him want to work harder; and that’s not to say that any player appreciates it less.
Todd Helton rounds in at third because well, he’s the best hitter. The best hitter means that you have the ability to hit, it doesn’t mean that you’re a big slugger; although, Todd is a big slugger. But of the team, he’s the guy who is the best. He can reach base. His stats last year might not reflect his ability but that might be because of all the injuries he suffered. Helton’s a great player both offensively and defensively. In 2000, he epitomized a clutch hitter which brings him higher up in the lineup.
I believe that Garrett Atkins and Brad Hawpe are kind of interchangeable at their spots. They’re both phenomenal hitters and both good in the cleanup spot. Brad Hawpe led the club in home runs and Atkins came in second. These guys can hit big and they can hit hard. Atkins led the club in RBIs, however, that statistic really doesn’t tell us much except that in a given opportunity, he can spread the wealth around to his teammates. It’s difficult to decipher who should come in at the cleanup spot. Putting together a line up is one of the most difficult things because it is so crucial. It’s a well known fact that the higher you are in the lineup, the more at bats you have. For every lineup spot a player moves up, they get see 18 more at bats per season. That’s what makes this so difficult, Hawpe and Atkins are our biggest hitters and to bring them farther down in the count means that they see less at bats. However, that’s part of the strategy of the lineup, putting your biggest sluggers in first isn’t going to really accomplish anything, you have to consider all your options: who can work the count, who works well under pressure, who can advance a player? Being a pitcher and facing, what you know as the best player on the team (hence why he’s in the cleanup spot), odds you’ll walk the guy increase. That’s why having the other best hitter in spot number five is so important. The fact that you’ve got another great guy in the lineup is going to put pressure on the pitcher to throw strikes.
I put Troy Tulowitzki in spot number six. His stats definitely suffered with an injury prone season; however, like I stated earlier, I don’t believe that Tulowitzki has a lot of patience. He’s a great player and great with a bat, so it’s difficult to decipher where he’s best in the lineup since his performance last year was… well… subpar. If during spring training he shows up ready for the season and not injury laden, his odds of moving up in the lineup will increase. It’s an honor to have Tulo on our team, but he needs to learn one of the most basic rules for a hitter: wait for your pitch. He’s eager, but he’s young. He’s got no where to go but up, and his talent is growing exponentially with every season he plays. Putting him far at the bottom was a tough choice because I do expect great things out of him.
In the seventh spot is Chris Iannetta. Being the catcher
is one of the most difficult positions,it’s hard on your body and incredibly demanding. Despite Iannetta having such a great season last year, putting him farther down in the lineup, in my opinion, is a wise move. The last thing you want is a worn out catcher, especially one as talented as Iannetta. Putting less stress on him is beneficial for the entire team, especially the pitcher. Keeping Iannetta fresh by giving him less at bats makes him better defensively, which is where a catcher is most important.
Finally, Seth Smith. Smith has often come in as PH, which tells me that he’s got some talent with a bat. However, he’s young and inexperienced. He’s taking over left field which is enough pressure as it is. Having to fill Matt Holliday’s shoes is an incredibly responsibility and it puts a lot of tension on an ability to perform. I believe that because everybody believes that left field is a big spot to fill, it’ll also reflect in batting. Whether real or imagined, Smith is going to feel pressure to drive in the runs like Holliday did regardless of where he is in the lineup. But Smith is young, he’s got a lot to learn and he can make mistakes. I put him in the eighth position not because I believe that he’s the worst hitter on the team, but because he can clear the pitcher’s spot. It’s playing for the betterment of the team and not necessarily for his own personal statistics.
So, there it is, my lineup. It kind of kills me to see Carlos Gonzalez with the number five. That means that Holliday is officially gone. I kind of died a little inside. But now all our players have numbers and it’s officially the 13th which means that I’m one day away from spring training. Not only that, but if Todd Helton isn’t ready for the 2009 season, which it sounds like he might not be, bringing in Ian Stewart will completely change the lineup. While that’s not something that I considered in my arrangement, I’ll have to completely rearrange everything. Bt anyway, tell me about what your lineup would be. I’d be interested in hearing what other people think would be best.
Spring training. Just breathe, it’ll come.