A batting order in baseball is as sacred as lines in hockey. Everyone is in their slot for a purpose and if the team wants to win the game, they’ll need everyone doing their part.
The first half of the order tends to have more importance than the bottom half of the order. Any night where you can get more production from your 5-9 hitters than your 1-4, you have a good shot at winning that game.
The leadoff hitter needs to have a combination of speed and contact. You don’t necessarily need a home run right off the bat because you have those batters coming up in the order behind him. What a team should look for in a leadoff hitter is a batter who has exceptional plate awareness and is able to work the count, as well as put the barrel on the ball and be able to steal once he’s on base.
A perfect situation for your leadoff hitter would be for them to get on base and steal second while the second batter is up. Then you have a runner in scoring position with zero outs in the first inning and are poised to do some damage.
The second batter in a lineup is the best contact hitter on the team. This could be a player you would use in the leadoff position, but perhaps he’s not fast enough. He also may not have enough power to bat third or fourth, but you trust that he’ll put contact on the ball to move along the runner.
The third batting slot is reserved for the best hitter on the team. This player often gets on base and can do it with anything from a double to a home run. In a perfect scenario, your third batter will come up with runners on first and second and you’d hope that he’s in a good position to hit him home.
The fourth batting slot is reserved for your clean up hitter. This may not be a batter who hits for average, but rather someone who can hit 40 home runs in a season. This is the guy you want the p at plate with bases loaded, and that would be the ideal situation for him in the first inning.
The third and fourth slots can see their batters used interchangeably. Move them around to figure out who you like best in each situation.
The fifth batter would be your second best all around hitter. This may seem odd, but let me explain. Because the third slot is your best hitter, your fourth slot isn’t necessarily your second best. Your fourth batter in your lineup should be your best power hitter. You don’t necessarily care if he hits sub .250, but you want at least 40 home runs from him over the course of the season.
The fifth slot should be above .275, with a decent 20+ home run and 80 RBI season. If you really get a good rally going in the first, the fifth batter will most likely come up with runners in scoring position. In that sense, you want someone who can hit them home.
With the sixth slot in your lineup, you want to prepare for later innings. A good strategy would be to place a high contact hitter that could serve as your leadoff batter, but doesn’t have enough speed or consistency to crack the top half of the lineup.
What this does is hopefully set up a runner on base later in the game to start a bottom half rally.
Your seventh slot should be another power hitter that doesn’t hit well for average. This could be a younger player still learning to play at the level. You want your seventh slot to be able to move the sixth slot into scoring position.
Bottom of the Batting Order
Your eighth and ninth slots are most likely going to be your worst hitters, or your worst hitter and your pitcher. There’s no way of getting around this, but it’ll be the player that you want in the game for his defense, usually a shortstop or second baseman, rather than his hitting. A ninth hitter ideally will have similar traits of a leadoff hitter like speed and the ability to draw walks and be on base for the top of the order.
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