It’s always difficult to please Pittsburgh sports fans. Whether it is poor use of the bullpen or foolishly calling for a bunt, Bucco fanatics often call out Clint Hurdle for his in-game management. One thing that he’s taken some criticism for is the way he formulates his club’s lineup.
The batting order usually isn’t critiqued when the team is ripping the cover off the ball and things are going well. But when a losing streak strikes or flaws are exposed, some fans like to see a more consistent lineup, rather than incorporating a revolving door of players.
Hurdle and the Pirates (26-18, tied for 2nd place in NL Central, 2.5 games back) continue to use a variety of batting orders. In 44 games, they’ve used a total of 32 different orders (excluding pitchers). When you do factor in pitchers, they’ve used 42 different combinations, which is pretty crazy.
Here’s how that ranks among the rest of the National League Central:
|Team||Excluding Pitcher||Including Pitcher|
As you can see, the Pirates have more batting order combos than any other team in the division.
Here are the Bucs’ most common lineups:
|6 Games||4 Games||2 Games||2 Games|
Outside of Starling Marte hitting leadoff and Andrew McCutchen batting third, it’s tough to set a lineup with this squad. As long as he’s the starter, Clint Barmes bats eighth. Russell Martin, who’s hitting .276 with six home runs and an .881 OPS, is pretty flexible, as is Neil Walker. Hurdle & Co. wanted Pedro Alvarez to take possession of the cleanup spot, but he’s been used mostly in the six-hole. Other variables to consider are platoons between Garrett Jones & Gaby Sanchez and Travis Snider & Jose Tabata.
As long as the Pirates keep winning, it shouldn’t matter how their lineup looks.
Photo: Creative Commons | Stats via Baseball-Reference