January 31, 2008

Mets Fever: Hit Church Third

From Ed Ryan at Mets Fever (Network Member):

I waited to complete this post until I saw what players from the major league roster were traded. Since none have been lost, I will present what I think would be the best line up, when the everyday players are in the game.

I know most people expect Ryan Church to hit in the seven spot but I think that would be a waste of his hitting style. Church is a prototypical gap hitter with very little home run power, these type of hitters have been primarily slotted into the three spot in a traditional line-up. Before tuning out please hear me out. After the 2006 season I was one of the first to want Lo Duca moved down in the line-up, at the time it was heresy but as the season unfolded it became apparent that it was where he belonged.

Jose Reyes and Luis Castillo are the best table setting tandem the Mets have had since the late 80's. A funkless Reyes with a high on base percentage, coupled with great speed is perfect in front of an injury free contact hitter like Castillo. Infielders tighten up and even if they don't make an error it's near impossible to double these two up. Castillo is extremely patient, allowing Reyes to steal second and move to third on a ground ball. With these two the pressure is on the defense, which can easily result in an error making it a first and third situation. I've heard some say that maybe Church should hit second and put Castillo in the seven spot but I think that would be a mistake.

Last year, in his first season as a regular player Ryan Church hit 43 doubles and only 15 HRs. With runners on base, a gap hitter like Church would have more chances to drive in runners and sustain rallies in the third spot. The only player with a similar hitting style that played for the Mets was Shawn Green and despite hitting almost .300 for the year, he drove in very few runners, because he was slapping the ball around with no one on base and then getting stranded himself. If Church hits in the seventh spot I believe he will be in the same situation. With Alou and Delgado in front of him, even if they're on base they don't have the speed to score from first on a double, then Schnieder and the pitcher will be up, leaving at least Church if not others stranded. But if he hits third, a double with Reyes and Castillo on base would score them both and he'll be on second with four power hitters behind him.

I would hit Wright fourth behind Church to go lefty, righty. Wright has the power for the clean-up spot and can hit for average, he also has the demeanor to handle the spot. He has become a great situational hitter, knowing when to swing for the fence or just drive the ball into the outfield.

Beltran would be next, hitting fifth would take a little pressure off Beltran, who I think tends to tense up at times. He would still be in a position to drive in runners but not the focal point of the offense. He would be positoned in between Wright and Delgado where he would be protected, but as a switch hitter create a problem for managers regarding pitching changes at a critical point in the line-up. He is hitting for slightly more power then average compared to Wright, making them a good four/five combo.

I would have Delgado hit sixth, a pitcher on the rocks who already allowed a few runs off a Church double, Wright single and Beltran deep fly out could now be knocked out of the game by one mighty swing of Delgado's bat. I do believe Delgado will rebound this year, but I still think at this point in his career he is an all or nothing home run hitter, who would fit perfect in the sixth spot. Delgado would get the protection he needs from Alou, while strecthing the line-up out even more, placing more pressure on the pitcher. Beltran between Wright and Delgado would put two tough hitters from the same side back to back depending on the match-up.

Alou is a hitting machine who is probably the only player on the team that doesn't need protection. He has the greatest potential to be productive hitting in front of two automatic outs in the catcher and pitcher. As I said before, he would provide protection for Delgado and could drive-in anyone still on base, while having the best chance of driving himself in as a solo run. Alou hitting in front of Church would end up with him stranded at third because he doesn't have the speed to score from first on a Church double and then Church would be stranded on second. Church hitting seventh seems like a waste of a great gap hitter while hitting Alou that deep in the line-up puts a tremendous amount of pressure on a pitching staff.

So here's how my 2008 line-up would look

switch-Reyes- .280/ 36 doubles / 12 triples / 12 HR / 78 SB
switch - Castillo - .300 / 19 SB / 19 doubles
left - Church - .272 / 43 doubles / 15 HR / 70 RBI
right -Wright - .325 / 42 doubles / 30 HRs / 30 HR / 34 SB / 107 RBI
switch - Beltran - .276 / 33 doubles / 33 HR / 3 triples / 23 SB / 112 RBI
left - Delgado- .258 / 30 doubles / 24 HRs / 87 RBI
right - Alou- .341 / 19 doubles / 14 HR / 49 RBI
left- Schnieder - .235 / 21 doubles / 6 HR / 54 RBI


Anonymous said...

i think they should keep wright hitting third and church hitting seventh

Anonymous said...

that might just be crazy enough to work

Anonymous said...

i think that could hurt the top of the order

Anonymous said...

reyes, castillo and wrightare much more imposing than reyes, castillo and church

Anonymous said...

the three spot is supposed to be held for the best hitter and that is not church

Shea It Ain't So said...

Although it is an interesting proposal, one in which I liked at first thought, because I for one really do think Ryan Church is a solid player not the fourth outfielder alot of people are making him out to be. The only Issue i have is that Ryan Church hits lefties with a .229 while Wright bats .361. I don't think i would be comfortable - A.) Having a weak left handed hitter in the three hole, B.)Or switching the lineup around everytime they face a lefty.

John Peterson said...

castillo hitting second is a huge mistake imo

Kyle said...

Stupid idea, Church is overated... by a lot i would rather have millidge... And he is not clutch at all