I keep hearing Gibby say it, and I just don't really want to believe it, because it seems so horribly wrong to me. I mean, let's not pretend that I'm not about to write a small essay about a batting order, in 2015, as if it's something that means a lot. But still, come on.
What I'm talking about is Gibby's answer to one of the questions at tonight's State of the Franchise Address, where someone asked how they were going to take care of the "weak" bottom of the order. Gibby, as he is wont to do, answered the question in a pretty awesome manner, saying, among other things, that the person asking the question was confused.
Gibby mentioned that the top half is strong-- so strong, in fact, that it makes the bottom half look weak by comparison, and that it would look totally reasonable were it not for the ridiculous pop starting things off. That's probably a halfway reasonable thing to say, I suppose. No team is stacked top-to-bottom without some riffraff or question marks hanging in there, and there are certainly some possibilities for platoon spots in there as well, which should at least mask some of those deficiencies.
Anyway, that's not really what I'm talking about here, we're just trying to put more words in there so it looks like I've got a great big point to make, when in reality, it's a minor issue. Optimal lineup vs. least optimal lineup is the difference between about 2 wins a season, and there's no way that Gibby is going to run a lineup out there everyday without it being really, really close to optimal, to this point where we're probably looking at much less than a single win over 162 games.
That doesn't take away my right to build a mountain about this though, god dammit.
Gibbons seems to have the top of his order set and ready to go:
and then the next series of names he mentioned before trailing off leads us to believe that there will be some combination of Navarro/Saunders, and then, I suppose, Smoak, Pompey, and whoever plays 2B on a given day.
My issue is with the 2-hole. Mathematically, this is the most or second-most important slot in the batting order. Bautista and Edwin are projected to be pretty similar hitters, and definitely the two best on the team (per Steamer's wOBA projections), but Bautista said at one point or another last year that he'd rather hit third (can't find a link here, but I'm fairly certain I didn't imagine that), and Gibby likes to have Edwin hit behind Bautista. If Reyes is #1, Bautista #3 and Edwin #4, and those are all set in stone, then that's fine, I guess. We'll work around it.
Sticking Martin in the 2 just kind of sticks in my craw though. Josh Donaldson projects to be the third best hitter, by wOBA, at .360, on the roster, ranking ahead of Martin, ahead of Reyes, and ahead of Michael Saunders, among others. Martin, on the other hand, projects for a .337 wOBA. That's still plenty good, but if the only options are having those two players in the 2- or 5-holes, a 27-point wOBA difference in a spot in the order that comes to the plate significantly more often could make a world of difference.
The second issue I'm having revolves around the days that Martin doesn't play. Martin has started between 106 and 118 games at Catcher each year since 2011, which is plenty durable, but is still only about 70% of all of his teams' regular season games. That leaves something like 40 games that they've got to go move someone else from their homes and stick them in to the 2-spot. Wouldn't it just be easier to have Donaldson there in the first place?
Heh, this probably isn't worth anywhere near as many words as I've devoted to it. Josh Donaldson is ours now, and perhaps I'd just like to see more of him, squeezing in that extra couple dozen plate appearances per year. That can't be a crime.