Here is an attempt to create the ideal lineup for the San Diego Padres moving forward.
Throughout the 2019 San Diego Padres season, talk of firing manager Andy Green persisted.
Green’s lackluster ability to generate a desirable lineup remains a chief complaint of many.
Let’s take a look at traditional lineup building strategies as well as more modern methods and attempt to develop the ideal possible lineup for the San Diego Padres as they enter their possible years of contention.
1st – Fernando Tatis Jr. – SS
The traditional method of the leadoff spot is placing your best contact hitter and fastest baserunner there. Historically these are players such as Rickey Henderson and Ichiro Suzuki. In the modern MLB, we’ve seen a shift away from the speedster aspect of the leadoff spot, with the new theory being that you want to place your best hitter in the leadoff spot because he will get more chances at the plate. With the application of either idea, Tatis is the obvious leadoff choice. With an average of .320, 22 home runs, and 16 stolen bases, Tatis is a rare combination of contact, power, and speed. He is the Padres’ best overall hitting option and the best baserunning option, making him the undisputable choice for the leadoff spot in an ideal Padres’ lineup.
2nd – Manuel Margot – CF
Manuel Margot spent 48 of his 68 appearances in the Padres lineup this season in the 7th, 8th, or 9th spot. Only 11 of his appearances came in the two-hole. This is odd, as the traditional rule of thumb for the second spot in a lineup is to place a batter who will put the ball in play and advance the leadoff runner. You want a guy who isn’t going to strikeout. A hit, walk, or even a ball put in play that results in an out works as long as the leadoff runner is advanced.
With that method in mind, it’s astounding the lack of looks Margot receives in the second slot of the order, as the player who boasts the lowest strikeout-percentage of all qualifying batters on the team. This is a full percentage point-and-a-half ahead of next lowest Padres’ regular, Manny Machado. With that strikeout-percentage complimented by an OBP of .327, the odds are also good that the advancement of Tatis would be carried out in conjunction with Margot getting on base.
3rd – Manny Machado – 3B
There are only three examples of games in which Andy Green batted a player not named Manny Machado in the third position of the Padres’ lineup. This is absolutely the right move, as the third spot is most ideal for a batter who hits for a proficient batting average (.265), can drive in the first run or runs of the game (70 RBIs), does not lack power (26 HRs), and can hit a few doubles (8.7 Extra Base Hit Percentage). Machado fits the archetype of a three-hitter perfectly, and this proves, justifiably, one of the least contested decisions by Andy Green this season.
4th – Hunter Renfroe – RF
Eric Hosmer spent 13 more games in the slugger spot than Hunter Renfroe this season. Hunter Renfroe hits for a higher slugging percentage, on-base plus slugging percentage, and average exit velocity than Hosmer. Not to mention he hit 14 more home runs than Hosmer this year. Is Hosmer a valuable bat in this lineup? Absolutely. Is he a more potent bat than Renfroe or more deserving of the four-hole? No.
5th – Eric Hosmer – 1B
Eric Hosmer possesses power, but the four-hitter should hold a home-run-or-bust mentality, and Hosmer hits for too good of an average and drives in too many runs without the long ball to assume that mentality. Instead, he serves a better purpose clearing the bases of any runners Renfroe fails to drive in or following up a Renfroe home run with a double to restart the run-scoring process. While Hosmer is a power bat, he is so much more than that and is better served to do more than just swinging for the fences.
6th – Francisco Mejia – C
With a batting average of .280 and flashing some of his power in recent games, Green should seek to place Mejia in the six-hole to get him the most plate appearances out of the bottom-half hitters. The sixth or seventh spot is also the traditional spot for catchers who do not possess uber-superior power or contact, a skill which Mejia does not yet boast.
7th – Josh Naylor – LF
Naylor is in the same spot as Mejia, a solid hitter who shows flashes of developing into a superior power bat, but in the status quo is not a hitter ready for the top half of the lineup. What is nice about having Naylor in the seventh spot is having solid hitters at the plate this deep into the lineup giving pitchers a tough time of navigating this Padres lineup.
8th – PITCHER
For those of you who know anything about baseball theory, you know where I’m going with this. Don’t place the pitcher at the bottom of the order to kill momentum before getting to the top of the order, give the offense a chance to rejuvenate itself between the pitcher and the top of the order. Fun fact: Padres pitchers combined for 20 total hits on the season.
9th – Luis Urias – 2B
When applying the Maddon/LaRussa method of eight-hole pitchers, you generally want one of your alternatives for the leadoff spot in the ninth spot. This occurs so the 9th batter can get things ready for the top of the lineup to come storming back through. Urias fits that leadoff archetype, and while he lacks success in the late 2019 season, with a little spring work, he should fit right into this role come the Great
Playoff Push of 2020
Now, this is subjective, but this lineup, with all things going according to plan, would ideally help lead the Padres to the playoffs in 2020.