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St. Louis Cardinals: Matheny’s Lineups

The Cardinals Have Experimented with Multiple Lineups this Season, But Here’s the Optimal Cardinals Starting Lineup:

After a sweep of the Atlanta Braves this past weekend, the Cardinals are now 3-3 and, today, they will be playing their first series of the 2016 campaign at Busch Stadium.  Even though the Cardinals played a much inferior ball club in Atlanta, it seems as if the bats are starting to wake up and the offense is starting to generate runs– something they didn’t do in Pittsburgh.

In six games this season, Manager Mike Matheny has sent out six different lineups. Even though certain aspects of the lineup have remained constant like Matt Carpenter leading off all 6 games, Matheny is still clearly experimenting to come up with a lineup that can produce runs consistently. To his credit, a lot of the changes have been a result of injuries and slumps; however, he will need to figure it out soon if the Cardinals want to produce runs on a nightly basis.

Even though we are only 6 games into the season and players are still adjusting back to the game, the statistics show that this is the lineup Matheny should set out every day, barring injuries and slumps.

#1: Carpenter has rightfully earned his spot at the top of the lineup and should continue leading off. As it stands right now, he is batting only .217, but that is more the result of a bad opening series in which he batted 1-11 (.091). However, his bat woke up in the Atlanta series and he batted 5-12 (.417) and has shown a consistent ability to get on base (4 walks in 6 games), which is the key to a successful leadoff hitter.

#2: Even though Jeremy Hazelbaker has been on fire lately, Stephen Piscotty should be the second hitter on the team. Among players who have played in every game this season, Piscotty leads the team at .292. More importantly, he also leads the team with 6 walks. Although some might argue that Piscotty could lead off for this team, his slugging percentage is .500 to Carpenter’s .391. That power is better served as the second hitter.

#3: Matt Holliday, without a doubt, should be the third hitter on this team. Matheny should stop experimenting with the 3rd spot in the lineup and put Holliday where he rightfully belongs. Even though Holliday is aging, he is still one of the best all-around hitters in this lineup and has the power for the 3rd spot. In his 13 year career, he has 275 home runs. Recently, he has struggled, only batting .190 on the season with a slugging percentage of .292. However, nothing helps a player’s confidence more than putting him in the same spot every day and giving him time to figure out his swing.

#4: Randal Grichuk, another player in a slump right now, deserves to be the 4th hitter when he figures out his swing. Currently, he is striking out at an astronomical rate (8 strikeouts in 15 at-bats) with an ice-cold .067 batting average. However, based on his past results, his numbers are ideal for a 4th spot hitter. Last year, in 103 games he batted .276 with 17 home runs. In a full season, he would have been a 20-25 homerun hitter. That is the type of numbers the Cardinals need from the 4th hitter and hopefully Grichuk can figure it out soon. He’s too talented to sit on the bench.

#5: The 5th spot in the lineup is probably the place with the most question. In my opinion, whoever starts at 1st base between Matt Adams and Brandon Moss should be the 5th hitter. Moss had a big homerun yesterday in the finale of the Atlanta series and has shown that he has the power to be a viable 5th hitter. When Adams starts, he should be placed in the same position to keep the other pieces consistent.

#6: Yadier Molina has started the last 3 games at the 6th spot and that is where he should continue to bat. This is like a Goldilocks not-too-hot/not-too-cold scenario. Molina shouldn’t be relied upon to carry this lineup. However, he will bat his usual .250 and be a very average hitter at the plate. The 5th spot isn’t too high up on the batting order where he would be detrimental to the top of the order and it isn’t low enough where his average hitting would be wasted. Goldilocks likes this spot for Yadi.

#7: The shortstop on this team should bat 7th on this team. Whether it be Aledmys Diaz or Jedd Gyorko (DEFINITELY DIAZ until Jhonny Peralta and Ruben Tejada can come back). Diaz has the hot bat and should continue to get his chance.

#8: Kolten Wong should platoon the 8th spot. His speed and decent batting average (.292 so far) is good for the 8th spot. Should he get on base, he has the speed to create havoc on the base paths and give the pitcher a chance to bunt him over into scoring position.

#9: The 9th spot, no surprise here, belongs to the pitcher.

There are a lot of question marks in this lineup. Matheny, recently, has been forced to fluctuate his lineup because of slumps to players like Grichuk and injuries. However, Matheny needs to find a consistent lineup soon so that players can figure out their identity on this team, whether it is to simply get on base or to be a power hitter.

Nothing gives a player more confidence than to know their role on a team and to have the same opportunity every day. The numbers show that there is one clear lineup.

Time to listen, Matheny.

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