There are two schools of thought in lineup arrangements: the traditionalists, who argue speed first, then power, then weaker bats at the end, with the fulcrum at the three spot. Then there's the newer school of thought, as epitomized by The Book, which lays out a very different set of precepts for lineup management: high on-base percentage matters more than blazing speed, and your real power source should probably be at the four-spot rather than the three-hole.
Judging by the recent results of the polling so far, it begins to appear that the OTM readership falls largely in the latter camp, as the voting so far has gone in a way that would make Tango, Lichtman, and Dolphin (The Book's authors) absolutely giddy with delight. On the other hand, it would appear that John Farrell will summarily Joss our lineup halfway through its creation, but why should we let trivial matters like reality intrude in on our fun?
So, moving on to the results. In the closest vote yet, Xander Bogaerts narrowly edged out David Ortiz for the three spot in the lineup, eking out a win by a 3:2 margin over Big Papi. Now, if Bogaerts produces anywhere in the vicinity of our hopes and dreams, the one-two-three combination of Nava, Pedroia, and Xander will give opposing pitchers pause. If Nava is successful at instilling his sense of patience and "looking for his pitch" to young master Bogaerts, I suspect we will see at least one first inning in which the opposing starter has to face the Sox's cleanup hitter with the bases loaded and at least thirty pitches already on his arm. It will be a very, very fun day indeed.
However, that raises a very important question: who will be the cleanup hitter? I have my suspicions, but as always, I'll leave it up to you OTMers to decide. Here are your remaining candidates for the number four spot:
- 1B: Mike Napoli: 0.353/0.464
- 3B: Will Middlebrooks: 0.244/0.412
- CF: Jackie Bradley Jr.: 0.308/0.414
- RF: Shane Victorino: 0.386/0.510
- C: A.J. Placeholder: 0.286/0.438
- DH: David Ortiz: 0.440/0.652
- LF/1B: Mike Carp: 0.367/0.537
- LF/1B: Jonny Gomes: 0.341/0.404
- CF: Grady Sizemore: 0.300/0.452 (note: data from 2011)
- C: David Ross: 0.298/0.382 (note: no splits because of small sample size)
Same rules as before apply. Vote for one candidate; top vote-getter becomes the cleanup hitter. Note also that this is not a prognostication poll; the goal isn't trying to guess who Farrell will slot into each spot, but crowdsourcing preferences. Vote however you like; we won't judge you for it.*
Voting will continue until tomorrow night; we'll hold the "battle" for the number five spot over the weekend.
*Just kidding. We're Boston sports fans. Of course we're going to judge you!