Many have suggested in recent weeks that the Mets alter their usual batting order, pushing Reyes back to the 3rd spot in the lineup. I don’t think this is a terrible idea, as he may very well be more productive at that spot. However, along with that suggestion comes the notion that two of Pagan/Matthews, Murphy, and Castillo will bat 1st and 2nd in the lineup.
The issue comes up when you compare season total plate appearances with a team’s spot in the batting order. Take a look at last year’s comparison for the Mets below.
A lot of people look at creating a batting order as solely picking the best order in terms of the various talents of each player. But there’s another aspect, which is the steep descent of plate appearances as you progress through the batting order. Check out the comparison between batting 1st and 8th – we’re looking at 123 less PAs throughout the season! That’s 16% less times at the plate for the 8th hitter, which is huge in the course of a 162 game season. While creating a lineup that fully utilizes the talent of a team’s players, we should also consider this…and weight a lineup with the stronger players toward the top and the weaker players toward the bottom.
Honestly, there may not be better options in the lineup while Beltran’s out than placing Pagan/GMJ/Murphy/Castillo in the 1 and 2 spots, which hurts a little to admit. I’d much rather see a player with a higher SLG than .346 get 16% more plate appearances than Castillo, for example. Castillo’s decent OBP may have more meaning earlier in the lineup, but is it worth sacrificing extra home runs and doubles from even a modestly better hitter for that added meaning? I’m not sure what the answer is, and maybe it all evens out and none of this matters, but it’s something to keep in mind while creating your lineups!