In which I still don’t get Jim Tracy

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Earlier today I complimented Kirk Gibson on how he’s worked the No. 2 spot in the order in these first two games, using Chris Young against the righty Tim Lincecum on Friday and Aaron Hill versus the lefty Madison Bumgarner today.

Rockies manager Jim Tracy, on the other hand, isn’t really looking for his No. 2 hitters to hit three homers in two games. Or really hit at all. The Rockies’ plan going into the spring was to open the season with Dexter Fowler leading off and Marco Scutaro hitting second. However, Fowler was so terribly lost at the plate this spring (.149 average, 17/3 K/BBin 67 AB) that the decision was made to switch the two. Because, I guess, the leadoff spot is so very much more important than the two hole?

This isn’t just a Rockies thing either. NL No. 2 hitters hit .256/.313/.369 last year. No. 8 hitters — already typically the worst hitter in most lineups and at the added disadvantage of hitting in front of the pitcher — were barely worse at .246/.315/.359. Every other spot in the lineup, except the pitcher’s, was better. Only the Phillies, with Placido Polanco and Shane Victorino manning the spot, got a .750 OPS from their No. 2 hitters last year. The Braves got a .747 OPS from their No. 8 hitters and a .644 OPS from their No. 2 hitters. The Nationals and Diamondbacks (hopefully Gibson is figuring this out) also got much better results from the eighth spot than the two hole.

And all of this has never made sense to me. The No. 2 hitter is probably more important in the act of scoring runs than the leadoff man is, since he gets to hit with more guys on base. He may be more important than the No. 3 hitter, too, since he doesn’t come up with two outs and none on nearly as often as a No. 3 hitter does. Lineup simulations will often suggest batting a team’s best hitter second, and while that may be controversial, it’s still just common sense that you’d want one of your better hitters up there so close to the top of the lineup.

Which Fowler might be. But the Rockies have him hitting second because and only because he’s struggling right now. If they thought he was going to hit like he did last year, he’d be leading off instead. Batting him second while he’s racking up outs like this will cost the team runs and maybe a win or two down the line. It’d make a lot more sense to hit him seventh or eighth instead and maybe get Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki up with some men on base.

Jason Kipnis placed on 10-day disabled list with strained hamstring

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The Indians announced on Wednesday that second baseman Jason Kipnis has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring. Infielder Erik Gonzalez was called up from Triple-A Columbus.

Kipnis, 30, has been bothered by the hamstring for the last two months. He had to be pulled from Tuesday’s game with renewed tightness. The veteran is hitting .228/.285/.409 with 11 home runs and 30 RBI in 335 plate appearances on the season.

Gonzalez, 25, has a .263/.272/.400 triple-slash line in 82 PA in the majors this season. He provides versatility for the Indians as he’s played second base, third base, shortstop, and both corner outfield positions as a member of the Tribe.

Jackie Bradley Jr. goes on the disabled list with a sprained thumb

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The Red Sox placed outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. on the 10-day disabled list with a sprained thumb this afternoon.

Bradley’s left thumb got bent back awkwardly as he slid into home plate on Tuesday night in Cleveland. X-rays came back negative, but an MRI taken Wednesday morning in Boston revealed the sprain. It’s unclear at this point how long he might be sidelined.

Bradley is hitting .262/.343/.432 with 14 homers and 54 runs batted in on the season. Andrew Benintendi is likely to take over in center field for Bradley, with Chris Young and Brock Holt sharing time in left.