That’s the way new Marlins manager Mike Redmond is looking to kick off his lineup; Juan Pierre, Placido Polanco and Giancarlo Stanton are likely to occupy the top three spots.
Sadly, Pierre and Polanco seemed like givens to bat first and second from the moment they were plucked from the bargain bin this winter. The alternatives there the middle infield duo of Donovan Solano and Adeiny Hechavarria.
On the other hand, Stanton batting third is a bit of a surprise and quite seemingly a mistake, particularly given the lack of proven hitters behind him. Justin Ruggiano and Logan Morrison will be the fourth and fifth hitters in some order.
Let’s face it, most of the Marlins innings that begin with the leadoff man are going to unfold in a couple of ways:
– Pierre and Polanco both make outs, putting Stanton up with none on and two out.
– Pierre singles, attempts to steal second or gets moved up by Polanco. Stanton comes up with a man on second and one out and immediately gets pitched around or intentionally walked to set up the double play.
My thought is that it makes a lot more sense to hit Stanton fourth. For one thing, if he’s going to come up with no one on, it’s much better that he does it at the start of the inning, giving him a chance to start a rally, than with two outs. And hitting him fourth should open up more situations in which he’s up with multiple men on, making the intentional walk less likely.
Cleanup hitters simply get more RBI chances than No. 3 hitters, even without accounting for the fact that they get fewer at-bats. Last year, NL No. 4 hitters drove in 1,658 runs while hitting .272/.343/.470. No. 3 hitters, despite hitting slightly better at .283/.356/.469, drove in 1,509 runs.
Not that it really matters in the grand scheme of things. The Marlins would have to figure out how to hit Stanton second, third and fourth to have much of a chance of avoiding the NL East basement this year.