Spiegel: The Lineup Hole At 3rd

By Matt Spiegel–

Amidst all the talk about Starlin Castro, and where he should hit in the lineup, the sad truth about the Cubs’ lineup becomes clear. There’s simply not enough good options to put a threatening lineup together. Is Kosuke Fukudome the true leadoff hitter, because his OBP is best? Maybe. Does Carlos Pena strike out too much to even be in the cleanup role? Perhaps. And really, who should be hitting third?

The 3 spot is for your best hitter. For these purposes, we’ll go ahead and define that as the player with the best OPS (On-base pct. plus slugging pct.). Below is a list of all the primary 3-hitters in MLB so far in 2011, and their career OPS. There are, of course, other factors involved here, be it the injury to Chase Utley, or the breakout season last year of Jose Bautista, or the assumed development of Hunter Pence. That said, it gives you an immediate glance at the best various lineups have to offer.

The Cubs best option right now is probably Aramis Ramirez and his career OPS of .839, considering Pena (.841) is coming off a season in which he hit .196. It’s hard to imagine Alfonso Soriano there (.841), with his obvious decline in mind. Castro (.779) may be the choice eventually, and you could certainly argue you might as well do it right now.

Vs. RHP, I’d go with Fuke, Castro, A-Ram, Pena, Soto, Byrd, Soriano, 2B, P.
Vs. LHP, I imagine I’d fiddle and diddle just as Quade is, until you find something that works.

With some research thanks to Nick Shepkowski, here’s the ugly truth:

No. 3 Hitter Career OPS
1. Albert Pujols – STL 1.049
2. Joey Votto – CIN .958
3. Chipper Jones – ATL .941
4. Ryan Braun – MIL .921
5. Josh Hamilton – TEX .915
6. Mark Teixeria – NYY .915
7. Hanley Ramirez – FLA .904
8. Adam Dunn – CWS .903
9. David Wright – NYM .899
10. Bobby Abreu – LAA .889
11. Joe Mauer – MIN .887
12. Magglio Ordonez – DET .882
13. Evan Longoria – TBR .879
14. Ryan Zimmerman – WAS .879
15. Shin Soo Choo – CLE .875
16. Carlos Gonzalez – COL .865
17. Derrek Lee – BAL .864
18. Andre Eithier – LAD .853
19. Andrew McCutchen – PIT .827
20. Justin Upton – AZ .825
21. Aubrey Huff – SFG .820
22. Hunter Pence – HOU .818.
23. Milton Bradley – SEA .807
24. Jose Bautista – TOR .798
25. David DeJesus – OAK .785
26. Carl Crawford – BOS .781
27. Orlando Hudson – SDP .769
28. Jimmy Rollins – PHI .764
29. Marlon Byrd – CHC .762
30. Alex Gordon – KCR .734
More from Matt Spiegel
  • GBA

    It is not baseball season until Cub fans start to agonize over batting orders.

  • randolph32

    He’s just trying to justify his as a ‘Keeper’ in Rotis this year….and yes, I would have too (even though I’m NOT a Cubs fan).

  • David Alfaro, Jr.

    Matt I have a parody song for coach Tibs, Domino by Van Morrison. I know you and Mac can come up with something very cool. I love your show.

  • OnCorFrozenDinnerBoom

    What would make this more useful would be to weight it more towards recent performance, say avg OPS over last three years.

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