Los Angeles Angels Manager Mike Scioscia is apparently set on continuing the Josh Hamilton lineup experiment as the Angels begin a four game homestand against the Seattle Mariners on Monday night. Jason Vargas (5-4, 3.74 ERA) will take the mound for the Halos and will attempt to recapture the impressive command that has eluded him at times this season.
The intrigue for Los Angeles will not be at the mound, however, but in the offensive lineup, where Scioscia has elected to bring Hamilton back to the two slot, where the left-handed (former?) slugger has hit a meager .188 with one home run and three RBIs since Scioscia began the experiment last week.
Scioscia has always been a manager who will stick by his players through thick and thin, and one week is not a particularly large sample space on which to judge a lineup change such as this. But the return of Peter Bourjos, the red-hot bat of Howie Kendrick (.334, second in the American League) and Hamilton’s complete lack of production make Scioscia’s commitment to this batting order especially baffling.
Bourjos gives the Halos more flexibility at both the top (he hit leadoff Sunday night) and bottom of the order; with his speed on the base paths, he could be both a great table setter hitting first or second, and a tough out hitting eighth or ninth. By hitting Hamilton second, the Angels cannot hit Bourjos and Mike Trout one-two as they did on Sunday, an adjustment that would make the top of the Halo order even more dangerous.
I have already written that the team would be best served by hitting Kendrick second, but clearly Scioscia has decided the team is best served by keeping the streaking Kendrick buried at the fifth spot, for the time being.
Let’s hope this experiment begins to pay some dividends, or that Scioscia will see the light and reverse course soon.
Tony Baker is a Los Angeles Angels blogger for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter at @tonloc_baker.