Skip to content

In which I still don’t get Jim Tracy

Apr 7, 2012, 7:20 PM EST

Jim Tracy AP

Earlier today I complimented Kirk Gibson on how he’s worked the No. 2 spot in the order in these first two games, using Chris Young against the righty Tim Lincecum on Friday and Aaron Hill versus the lefty Madison Bumgarner today.

Rockies manager Jim Tracy, on the other hand, isn’t really looking for his No. 2 hitters to hit three homers in two games. Or really hit at all. The Rockies’ plan going into the spring was to open the season with Dexter Fowler leading off and Marco Scutaro hitting second. However, Fowler was so terribly lost at the plate this spring (.149 average, 17/3 K/BBin 67 AB) that the decision was made to switch the two. Because, I guess, the leadoff spot is so very much more important than the two hole?

This isn’t just a Rockies thing either. NL No. 2 hitters hit .256/.313/.369 last year. No. 8 hitters — already typically the worst hitter in most lineups and at the added disadvantage of hitting in front of the pitcher — were barely worse at .246/.315/.359. Every other spot in the lineup, except the pitcher’s, was better. Only the Phillies, with Placido Polanco and Shane Victorino manning the spot, got a .750 OPS from their No. 2 hitters last year. The Braves got a .747 OPS from their No. 8 hitters and a .644 OPS from their No. 2 hitters. The Nationals and Diamondbacks (hopefully Gibson is figuring this out) also got much better results from the eighth spot than the two hole.

And all of this has never made sense to me. The No. 2 hitter is probably more important in the act of scoring runs than the leadoff man is, since he gets to hit with more guys on base. He may be more important than the No. 3 hitter, too, since he doesn’t come up with two outs and none on nearly as often as a No. 3 hitter does. Lineup simulations will often suggest batting a team’s best hitter second, and while that may be controversial, it’s still just common sense that you’d want one of your better hitters up there so close to the top of the lineup.

Which Fowler might be. But the Rockies have him hitting second because and only because he’s struggling right now. If they thought he was going to hit like he did last year, he’d be leading off instead. Batting him second while he’s racking up outs like this will cost the team runs and maybe a win or two down the line. It’d make a lot more sense to hit him seventh or eighth instead and maybe get Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki up with some men on base.

Latest Posts
  1. The Cardinals are boring

    Mar 5, 2015, 1:30 PM EST

    Lackey yawn AP

    Just ask them. They’ll tell you so.

  2. Orioles negotiating buyout with Suk-min Yoon one year into $5.75 million deal

    Mar 5, 2015, 1:13 PM EST

    suk-min yoon korea getty Getty Images

    He would then return to Korea, where the 28-year-old was a former MVP.

  3. The Josh Hamilton decision could come as early as next week

    Mar 5, 2015, 11:39 AM EST

    Josh Hamilton Josh Hamilton

    The union and the league are butting heads, but the deadlock should soon be broken.

  4. It’s like the New York Post isn’t even trying anymore

    Mar 5, 2015, 7:53 AM EST

    Alex Rodriguez AP

    I guess it’s spring training for tabloid headline writers too.

  5. Angels, Huston Street expected to exchange offers soon

    Mar 4, 2015, 11:59 PM EST

    huston street getty Getty Images

    MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez has an update on the ongoing extension negotiations between Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto and veteran closer Huston Street …

  6. Ji-Man Choi suffered a fractured right fibula

    Mar 4, 2015, 11:13 PM EST

    ji-man choi getty Getty Images

    The Mariners won their Cactus League opener Wednesday against the Padres, but it was not a totally problem-free afternoon in Peoria, Arizona.

  7. Suspending Josh Hamilton for a year would be obscene

    Mar 4, 2015, 10:26 PM EST

    josh hamilton getty Getty Images

    Suspending Hamilton for a year would serve no purpose punitive systems are designed to serve. And would most likely not serve Josh Hamilton at all.

  8. Report: MLB panel split on rehab for Josh Hamilton; one-year suspension is in play

    Mar 4, 2015, 9:52 PM EST

    josh hamilton angels getty Getty Images

    A four-person panel appointed by Major League Baseball to decide how Josh Hamilton should be handled following his recent relapse that involved at least cocaine has reportedly reached a stalemate.

  9. Rays sign reliever Jim Miller to minor league deal

    Mar 4, 2015, 9:04 PM EST

    jim miller getty Getty Images

    The deal includes an invitation to the major league side of spring training, though Miller seems doubtful to win a spot on Tampa Bay’s Opening Day roster.

  10. Tim Collins leaves spring debut with tight left elbow

    Mar 4, 2015, 8:21 PM EST

    tim collins getty Getty Images

    Royals reliever Tim Collins missed time last season with a flexor strain in his left elbow and again had an issue with the joint Wednesday in his 2015 Cactus League debut …

  11. Joc Pederson goes 2-for-2 in Cactus League debut

    Mar 4, 2015, 7:17 PM EST

    joc pederson getty Getty Images

    It was an enjoyable first day of Cactus League competition for Dodgers prospect Joc Pederson.

  12. Masahiro Tanaka expected to make his 2015 Grapefruit League debut on March 12

    Mar 4, 2015, 6:22 PM EST

    tanaka getty Getty Images

    He successfully rehabbed a torn UCL in his right elbow last season and the Yankees’ fingers remain crossed that the 26-year-old from Japan will be able to avoid Tommy John elbow reconstructive surgery.

  13. Billy Bean responds to Daniel Murphy’s comments

    Mar 4, 2015, 4:18 PM EST

    Billy Bean

    While it’s clear that the two do not see eye to eye, Billy Bean is choosing to look on the bright side of yesterday’s comments from Daniel Murphy.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. M. Upton (2559)
  2. M. Saunders (2298)
  3. A. Simmons (2078)
  4. G. Richards (2064)
  5. V. Martinez (2023)