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Out of Left Field: What if the Opposing Team Picked Your Batting Order?

I had a friend post this on his Facebook: “Baseball, but your opponent gets to decide the batting order. Is this anything?” I answered it.

Ryan Christenson by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY SA-2.0

Out of Left Field: What if the Opposing Team Picked Your Batting Order?

Estimated Reading Time: 3 Minutes

I recently had a friend post this on their Facebook Wall:

“Baseball, but your opponent gets to decide the batting order. Is this anything?”

Editor’s Note: Are we still calling it a Facebook Wall? Feels like we shifted away from that and now we just say “I posted it to MY Facebook.” Weird.

I scrolled right on by, without giving it a second thought, but then curiosity got the better of me. And I began to wonder if “Baseball, but your opponent gets to decide the batting order” is truly anything? Is that something that would be earth-shattering to the game? Is this what’s needed instead of pitch clocks and “Abracadabra Walks?”

No, but it’s an interesting idea.

It’s an interesting concept, but the order wouldn’t necessarily make a difference depending on the team. You could stack all the good hitters at the top and then the awful ones in the bottom of the order, but you still have to face the best hitters in a row.

The ideal would be going “bad hitter, good hitter, great hitter, bad, good, great, etc.” A bad hitter gets out most of the time, a good hitter can’t do too much damage without anyone on, and the great hitter can get on base only to be followed by the bad hitter again. In the worst-case scenario that a great hitter goes yard, you just have to hope that it’s a solo home run.

Then again, a great hitter is classified as hitting over .300, which is getting a hit one-third of the time, or in 30% of their at-bats. The only issue with doing this too is that it puts far too much strain on your own starting pitcher to not mess up the rhythm.

Walks will be the enemy. Walk a bad hitter and it’s gonna be rough going. Walk a good hitter, and you have the great hitter up with runners on. And if you walk that great hitter, the bad hitter who most assuredly can bunt well, pushes him to second, and the good-hitter gets in the box with a runner in scoring position. The amount of room for error for your team’s starter becomes exponentially smaller.

Especially if a bad hitter takes your pitcher deep. That’s not supposed to happen. That’s not going to be good, but it happens. Kirk Niewenhuis, a career .221 hitter, had only 31 career home runs, three of which came in the same game.

If that happens, you normally just tip your cap and keep pitching. In this scenario, with this lineup construction, you’re dead in the water.

What would be really interesting is having your opponent choose your lineup. Each team gets to pick their own pitcher, but the lineup is in the other team’s hands. This makes team construction from the farm-level to the majors WILD.

Players like David Fletcher on the Angels or Jon Berti on the Marlins have a much higher value to an organization than someone like Pete Alonso or Giancarlo Stanton, who are good hitters but are positionally challenged. So constructing a roster that is full of “pick your poison” players is much more advantageous than one that has the best hitters.

Defensively this is also interesting. Someone like James McCann, Christian Vasquez, Buster Posey, and even Kyle Schwarber (who was a catcher) who can play catcher and another position, offers flexibility. Get a few of these guys on your team and you’re cooking with gas.

So to answer the question, “is this a thing?” The answer is no, but if it’s the lineup, it could be.

Justin Colombo is a 2017 Broadway Show Softball League All-Star at 3B/SS. He's essentially the Manny Machado of the Kinky Boots team. Justin has been writing about Baseball since he was a little kid. Now that being an actor in NYC has given him a lot of free time, in 2015 he decided to take his passion public and founded Three Up, Three Down as a way to express his love for the game. From there, Three Up, Three Down grew from a hobby to an obsession. After years of growth and one insult from MLB's Historian, Justin launched The Turf, a way to expand into all areas of the sporting world. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter. LET'S. GO. METS.

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