Ned Yost has run the exact same batting order out for 18 consecutive games. Eighteen games! The last eight of the regular season, the Wild Card game, the three in the ALDS, the four in the ALCS, and the first two of the World Series. Now, with the Series shifting to the National League park where the Royals will lose the designated hitter, Yost will have to ponder some changes.
I have joked that Yost will just throw the pitcher in the fifth spot in the order in place of Billy Butler. Pretty automatic, right? Of course, Yost isn’t going to do that.
What will probably happen is Yost will keep his top four, remove Butler and then push his usual bottom four one higher. There are rumblings Yost will actually make a change, removing Nori Aoki and replacing him with Jarrod Dyson. That’s a really good idea.
How about this for a lineup?
Gordon – LF
Escobar – SS
Cain – RF
Hosmer – 1B
Infante – 2B
Moustakas – 3B
Perez – C
Dyson – CF
I know what you’re going to say. Madness. But think about it. Alex Gordon is having a miserable October, hitting .176/.333/.353, yet I bump him to the top of the order. It’s going with my gut, because he’s done it before and he’s done it successfully. Also, because I believe the Royals really need to get Gordon going. Imagine the next three to five games if he gets hot. So much better. Maybe it’s a touch of insanity, but I prefer to think of it as a move to get an important bat going again. Moving his away from Perez has to help, right? I know we’re not supposed to talk about “protection” in the lineup, but I believe it makes a difference in small sample sizes. They’re not giving Gordon anything to hit because they know Perez isn’t going to follow with anything of substance. Moving Gordon ahead of Cain and Hosmer has to make a difference in the quality of pitches Gordon will see. At least I believe that.
Alcides Escobar bumps down to second. He’s taken just one walk and has a .311 OPB in the postseason. Not leadoff material. However, he’s handled the bat well enough that I’m fine with him staying toward the top of the order.
Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer at three and four are automatic.
Omar Infante is heating up when it matters most. The double and home run in Game Two were spectacular, but he also had a .433 OBP in the ALCS to go along with four hits. Mike Moustakas has hit some big home runs, but mostly has been a steady presence. Which is to say he’s an improvement over regular season Moustakas. He still doesn’t belong higher in the order. Bump them up a couple of spots.
Salvador Perez has continued his offensive struggles this month. Even when he’s gotten a big hit – like in the Wild Card game or the double in Game Two – he’s been lost nearly every other time at the plate. been hitting well at the top of the order, relatively speaking. He needs to be buried at the bottom of the lineup while hoping he can collect a big hit or two.
Jarrod Dyson is the biggest change in my lineup. With triples alley in right-center, and with a tremendous defensive potential outfield, I think Ned Yost has to put his best glovemen in the outfield. That means Dyson in center, Cain in right and Nori Aoki to the bench. Plus, you have Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Vargas, who are the two fly ball pitchers in this postseason rotation. Aoki has been a… let’s just say an adventure in the outfield. Plus, his bat on the bench gives Yost an attractive pinch hit option along with Billy Butler. And don’t forget Josh Willingham. That trio could come in handy in the National League park.
This lineup largely goes left-right-left-right. Since we saw how Bruce Bochy is going to manage his bullpen in the middle innings, that seems important. The exception is at two and three with Escobar and Cain from the right side. Since that’s the case, I would entertain flip-flopping Gordon and Escobar at the top. I’m not thrilled with Escobar leading off, but he’s been doing it since mid-September and well… You can’t argue with the results since then.
Yost has to move out of his lineup comfort zone. Why not shift things around to get what could be an optimal lineup when all you need is three wins?