Jose Reyes batting third? Does it matter?

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Earlier Matthew asked whether Jerry Manuel’s idea to bat Jose Reyes third is a good idea.  Here’s a second question: Would it make a difference? 

It probably won’t. There have been multiple studies of lineup optimization over the years. For the most part they conclude that the particular lineup doesn’t make a whole hell of a lot of difference. Oh sure, on average the guys near the bottom of the order will get fewer plate appearances than the guys at the top, but as long as you group your better hitters near the top and your worse ones near the bottom, the specific slots don’t much matter.

The upshot: as long as Manuel has Reyes, Beltran, Wright and Bay up near the top it probably doesn’t matter who’s third. The only thing that could change this is something Manuel himself pointed out, and that’s that it might be a bad idea if such a move gives Reyes the heebie jeebies. And like I said this morning, the manager’s primary job is to keep things on an even keel.

So feel free to mess around Jerry. The papers will squawk some, but they’re going to do that no matter what you do, so you may as well do what you want to do.