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Who Hits 9th…?

As I scan the “best guess” Opening Day roster predictions on sites like OYNAG, I find myself asking the same question: Who is our so-called “second leadoff man”…or will the pitcher actually hit 9th this season?

Let’s explore.

TLR says the pitcher is going to hit 8th again this year. All fine and good. I’m not one of those people screaming idiocy at mixing things up a bit. Sure, if it were me, I would hit the pitcher 9th…but I’m not convinced it makes THAT much of a difference. However, last season’s lineup was a bit different than this season’s lineup.

For one, second base was a hole. If Brendan Ryan played there, he was a good 9th spot hitter. If Kennedy, Miles, or Lopez played there – well, they could do the job as well.

For another, shortstop was an even bigger hole in the lineup. Izturis was just not an offensive threat…but he worked as a second leadoff hitter in the ninth spot. But one thing should be pointed out…those guys (Kennedy, Miles, Lopez, Ryan, or Izturis) worked in the 9th spot because their value as a “second leadoff man” was much higher than anywhere else in the lineup.

Again…this season is different.

If Skip sticks at second (say THAT five times fast…), then second base is no longer a hole in the lineup…and Khalil Greene is a clear upgrade at short over Izturis. The problem is, Skip is our leadoff man (first leadoff…?) and Khalil was signed for his doubles and homer ability…not for his on-base skills.

Put it this way…assume an Opening Day lineup of the following (fielding configuration):

Albert Pujols – 1B
Skip Schumaker – 2B
Khalil Greene – SS
Joe Mather – 3B (or even Troy)
Ryan Ludwick – RF
Rick Ankiel – CF
Chris Duncan – LF
Yadier Molina – C
Pitcher

Who is your 9th spot, “second leadoff man” in that lineup? Yadi? No speed, relatively low on-base percentage. Mather? He’s an RBI guy…not an on-base guy – too valuable elsewhere. Khalil Greene? Do you really sign a potential 25 homer, 100 RBI, 100 strikeout, .275 hitter to plug him in the ninth spot? That’s just nuts to me…

Or…is it time to return the pitcher to the 9th spot and abandon the 8th spot experiment?

Lemme’ know what you think!

GO CARDS!!!

P.S. If Rasmus makes the team…IF…or if Barton is in the lineup as the backup outfielder…then either could be a ninth guy…especially Barton…but we’re talking potential Opening Day, primary lineup. I don’t see either one of them in that lineup.

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