We all know the drill for every game: J.J. Hardy, Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, and then some form of Derrek Lee (now Chris Davis), Mark Reynolds, Matt Wieters, Felix Pie/Nolan Reimold/Luke Scott (when healthy), and Robert Andino/Blake Davis. The top four of the Orioles lineup have been the same all season since Brian Roberts has been out while the bottom half has been some version of the same players.
I have a problem with this - not with having the same lineup every game, because that shows stability, which is good. But I have a problem with the actual lineup. Let’s start at the top: I love Hardy in the leadoff role. I like him better than Brian Roberts there and if some miracle happens and Roberts comes back before the end of the season (fat chance), I would still want Hardy to be No. 1 to the plate. He thrives in that spot batting, .257 with an on-base percentage of .289 with 14 (of 18) home runs, 27 RBI, 10 doubles and eight walks.
Then you have Markakis behind him, the perfect two-hole hitter. He’s hitting .298 when batting second with a .346 on-base percentage. He’s hit 17 doubles, nine homers, has 40 RBIs and 24 walks - meaning he can get Hardy home or advance him while getting on base for Adam Jones.
Jones hits perfectly behind these two players as he has the second most power on the team behind Reynolds so he’ll score Hardy, Markakis, or both very often. So far, I’m happy with the lineup.
Then we get to Guerrero hitting cleanup. This is my problem. Why in the world do you have Guerrero hitting cleanup when you have Reynolds’ 35-40 homers each season on the team? What are you doing, Buck Showalter? The first time you get a guy on the team who has the ability to hit 40 home runs a season since Rafael Palmeiro hit 43 in 1998. Yes, 13 years later you have a guy who could hit 40 shots and you have him batting either fifth, sixth or seventh?
We get it, he strikes out a lot and will never bat over .250. But, wait, he’ll hit 40 homers and 100-plus RBIs, yet you have him hitting in the bottom of the lineup? He has 11 plate appearances when batting fourth. That’s it. He has 190 at seventh and 46 at sixth. Ryan Howard, a very similar player to Reynolds, bats cleanup for the Philadelphia Phillies. He has 21 homers and 81 RBIs with two at-bats in another spot besides fourth.
I don’t see why Showalter doesn’t put Reynolds at cleanup. What do you have to lose? More games? Not like that won’t happen anyway. Guerrero is doing nothing this year; he has nine homers. That’s not a lot of power for the quintessential power spot in the lineup. I don’t get why Showalter doesn’t put Reynolds in fourth, but the few times Reynolds has hit cleanup, I’ve been extremely satisfied. Please, Buck, change your lineup and put Reynolds where he belongs.
Lauren Tilley blogs about the Orioles for Birds Watcher, and her thoughts on the O’s appear here as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.