The old school book was that you want your second hitter to be a bat control guy. Someone who can hit the ball the other way or bunt when need be.
The new school book is that your second hitter should probably be your best hitter. Your absolute best. That’s because, statistically speaking, he comes up in just as many high-leverage situations as your three hitter or cleanup guy, but gets more overall at bats. Not a ton of teams are doing that yet, but a couple are. And now Mike Scioscia is thinking of doing that too:
#Angels Mike Scioscia, on Trout in order, open to other spots, but leaning toward 2.”No. 2 spot is where he fits us best right now.”
— Jeff Fletcher (@JeffFletcherOCR) February 19, 2015
I wonder if Scioscia’s view on this is because of that new school thinking — and the clear realization that Mike Trout is his best hitter — or if it’s for some other reason. Such as, say, his desire to see Trout to cut down on strikeouts and the belief that forcing him to hit the ball the other way or (gasp!) bunt once in a while may do that.
Old Mike Scioscia Old School jokes aside, the guy has done a much better job in recent years adapting to who his personnel is and not asking them to do things they’re not comfortable doing, so I highly doubt he’s going to turn the reigning MVP into a bunter. But it will be interesting to see if Trout’s power stroke is curtailed in any way if he does bat second. Or — if Angels fans are lucky — some sweet spot is reached where the power stays big but the strikeouts go down regardless.