The 2013 baseball season has only just begun for Clint Hurdle and the Pittsburgh Pirates, however, the second-guessing from fans and media is already in full swing. The Opening Day lineup for the Pirates looked like this:
- LF Starling Marte
- RF Garrett Jones
- CF Andrew McCutchen
- 3B Pedro Alvarez
- 1B Gaby Sanchez
- 2B Neil Walker
- C Russell Martin
- SS Clint Barmes
When I initially looked at this lineup, two questions popped into my head instantly: 1. Why does Hurdle have Garrett Jones batting second? 2. Why is Gaby Sanchez in the lineup against a right-handed pitcher (Jeff Samardzija)?
Garrett Jones has struck out in 20.4% of his career plate appearances. In the minds of a lot of smart people, the two spot in the batting order should be reserved for a team’s best hitter. Jones is a power hitter that is serviceable in the middle of the order, preferably hitting fifth in this lineup. He is not suited to be a top of the lineup guy.
Also, Gaby Sanchez should not be in the lineup against right-handed pitchers. Before the season, myself, along with a lot of other Pirates fans and media members assumed that Travis Snider would play right field and Jones would play first base against right-handers. Against left-handed pitching, Jones would play in right and Sanchez would play first base. Gaby Sanchez has terrible career numbers against right-handed pitching, with just a .247/.314/.397 slash line. Against lefties, Sanchez has a .291/.385/.484 line.
Snider, being a guy that hasn’t had success at the major league level yet, doesn’t have good numbers against left-handed pitchers or right-handed pitchers at this point. However, his numbers against right-handed hurlers is a bit better, with a .250/.315/.422 line.
Apparently Hurdle was really discouraged by the Spring Training that Snider had, because right field was “Snider’s job to lose” going into Spring Training.
Hurdle needs to stop playing Gaby against right-handed pitching, and he needs to stop batting Garrett Jones second in the batting order. These are not formulas for success.