When most people think of a major league hitter in the two-slot, they often think of a relatively small slap hitter who is good at making contact, perhaps gets on base on a solid-but-not-spectacular clip, and doesn’t strike out, which wouldn’t help in moving the runner over. This however, is a flawed notion.
In The Book, Tom Tango and company looked at the various contexts in which a two-hitter hits and how often, and shatters our expectations on what a two-hitter can do. In fact, Tango finds that this may be the exact opposite of an ideal two-hitter. Here’s why:
Two hitters have the second most plate appearances out of any hitter in the lineup after the leadoff hitter. Because of this, you want one of your best hitters hitting in this spot, preferably one that draws a lot of walks. But why not a contact hitter? Contact hitters with little power tend to hit more ground balls, and those, more often than not, end up in double plays. In fact, the least costly out at this spot is the strikeout.
High walks? High strikeouts? For the New York Mets, this sounds a lot like Lucas Duda. While he may not be the hitter you’d think of as someone hitting behind the leadoff man, his high-strikeout and walk tendencies, mixed with his power, actually may make him best guy to hit second in the Mets’ lineup and perhaps also provide him with more RBI situations.
Additionally, because the third hitter is so often at bat with two outs, this spot should likely be reserved for a hitter that is on base less than the leadoff or cleanup hitter. Based on this logic, David Wright should bat cleanup, and a hitter like John Buck should hit third, with Daniel Murphy leading off.
It looks atypical, but it may gain the Mets a few extra runs.