The Brewers have opened up 2011 season 29-24, good enough for 2nd place in the NL Central. Our pitching has improved tremendously, and we finally have a manager who manages the game. Things are good in Milwaukee. However, I think that there are a few minor tweaks that could go on to make the Crew even better- mainly the batting order. Now, you may ask: Why mess with a good thing? I mean after all, the old adage is “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” right? Well, this is one of those things that may need a little bit of work. So here is my lineup with reasoning for each one.
1 Hitter – Your leadoff hitter needs to have a high on-base percentage, and be able to put the ball in play. This is someone who is dependable and reliable and will ignite big rallies. While it helps if this person is fast, it’s not a necessity. For all these reasons, Jonathon Lucroy is the perfect leadoff hitter for the Brewers. He has the 3rd highest OBP on the team (Behind Fielder and Braun) and is very reliable. While he strikes out a little more than I’d like, there is definite room for improvement.
Pros: Rickie Weeks’ power can now be more utilized lower in the lineup.
Cons: As a catcher, Lucroy won’t be playing everyday. You’d like someone who is in there everyday as your leadoff.
2 Hitter- This spot in lineup should be someone who can hit the ball all over the field, move runners, and has a low amount of strikeouts. They should also be able to hit fastballs. Why? The 2 hitter will be protected by the 3 and 4 hitter, and the pitcher will not want to walk anybody in this situation. This is why I pick Casey McGehee to bat 2nd. While McGehee may strike out a little, he is definitely a fantastic fastball hitter. He can also hit the ball all over, and would do a good job hitting behind runners and getting them in position for the heart of the order.
Pros: McGehee needs a Jobu to help him hit the curveball. The more fastballs he sees, the better.
Cons: We would now have NO speed at the top of the order.
3 hitter- Needs to be your best hitter. Must be clutch, good looking and play Left Field. Ok, I made up that last one, but is it a surprise that Ryan Braun should stay in the number 3 hole?!?!?
Pros: We have this guy locked up for a long time and we are very, very, lucky.
Cons: We can’t bat Braun 1-9, just 3rd.
4 hitter- Your 4 hitter should be a power hitter- someone that pitchers are scared to pitch to, but have to because there are runners on base. Prince Fielder is dominating this scene. His OPS is high, he has 42 RBI and he has lost some weight. Prince wants a big contract and is going to play his heart out – this year.
Pros: Prince has a lot of tools, and his patience this year is incredible. Lots of walks.
Cons: This will probably be the last year Prince bat 4 for us.
5 hitter- Your 5 hitter needs to be someone who has pop, and can bring in your 3 and 4 hitter who just doubled in 3 runs. Speed helps, because they are very similar to a lead off hitter for the bottom of the order. Sounds like a perfect spot for Rickie Weeks! Rickie is 2nd in the team in doubles and triples, as well as 3rd on the team for home runs. Rickie will be making some things happen from here.
Pros: Rickie Weeks is fast, but the pop of his bat can’t be underused at the top of the order anymore.
Cons: Will moving Weeks screw up the Brewers mojo?
6 hitter- Your number 6 hitter is usually someone who has a lot of tools, but may not be the most reliable hitter. Maybe a guy who is streaky, one that can make you extremely mad and happy at him in the same day. I can only think of one person on the Brewers who fit this role, and that would be Corey Hart. Corey is a great when he’s on, and when he’s off he swings at EVERY LOW AND OUTSIDE SLIDER. I mean seriously, I could strike out Hart with 2 strikes. He swings at EVERY low and outside slider. Can we get some stats on this? ESPN, get on this!
Pros: Hopefully Hart is on when it matters- the end of the season. Then the Brewers are golden.
Cons: I don’t see any other place to put Hart. I did this lineup about 6 or 7 times, and its really the only option for Milwaukee.
7 hitter- What do you need out of your 7 guy? Not a lot. If anything, you want a guy who at the least will put the ball in play and not strikeout. Yuniesky Betancourt has only struck out 21 times this year, by far leading all Brewers starters. Betancourt will come through in September, just you wait and see. I’ve been saying it all along, and it will happen.
Pros: The bar is set low here. Betancourt can do bad and still meet it.
Cons: While his strikeouts are low, so is his batting average. And hits. And doubles. And….
8 hitter- Here me out before you go crazy. The number 8 hitter NEEDS to be the pitcher’s spot, and I’ll tell you why. Pretty normal situation: 7 hitter singles, 8 hitter gets out, pitcher bunts, lead off gets out. In my world, 7 hitter singles, 8 hitter bunts him over, and now we have 2 tries to get a base hit. I think the percentages increase, don’t you think?
Pros: If it works, I’m a genius. LaRussa did it with the Cardinals and won a World Series.
Cons: If this is so simple, why doesn’t every team do it?
9 hitter- In my world, the 9 hitter is really your leadoff hitter who gets less at bats. He’s smart, fast, and causes problems. He can run on the base paths without getting in the way of Braun and Fielder, and he can hit in the 6 and 7 hitter that got sacrifice bunted over by the pitcher in the 8 spot. So who is left? No, not Carlos Gomez you fools! None other but Nyjer Morgan!
Pros: Morgan can do a great job here, and is smart enough to make it work.
Cons: Morgan needs to stay healthy and learn how to hit left handed hitting to keep him in the line- up.
So there it is : Your 2011 Milwaukee Brewers lineup. It is not exactly what you have seen this year, or what you might expect, but its what I came up with. Think I’m wrong? What would you want to see?
Random Baseball Thought: What happened to Buster Posey stunk. He is a great young player who lost the entire year to something that could have been avoided… by him. As a former catcher, most of the plays at the plate start and end with the catcher. If Posey had positioned himself in front of the plate and gave the backside more, this probably would have been avoided.