Felipe Lopez Batting Fourth | The Process Report

Felipe Lopez Batting Fourth

Without any clear choice in the middle of the order, Joe Maddon has begun to pencil Felipe Lopez’s name in the cleanup spot. Considering the available options and the production of Lopez thus far, it is hard to get up in arms over such a decision; however, the question of why Lopez was chosen in the first place has some people searching for clues.

Personally, I had not put much thought into choice. In general, lineup construction is overrated unless there is a glaring misstep. In the case of the current team, there is not much that can be done on a daily basis with a roster of role players and untapped potential carrying most of the spots. As long as the team continues to play the best players, the order really should not matter for the most part.

As surprising as it may have seemed two weeks ago, Felipe Lopez is one of those best players. In 40 plate appearances, the utility infielder is hitting .316/.350/.553. Obviously, those numbers do not have staying power, but we’re not in it for longevity right now. While Lopez’s results thus far have been solid, that still doesn’t explain Maddon’s decison in the first place.

Again, it could simply be Maddon looking at what he has and going with a guy who has long track record of being mostly average. At this point, mostly average is a really good thing to be here. There could also be some secret formula created in the baseball operations department that says Lopez is hidden gem in the cleanup spot. Or it could just be that Lopez is a decent enough hitter with men on base to make this experiment work for another week or so until Evan Longoria returns.

Looking at his career numbers (all decent sample sizes) Lopez is a better hitter with men on base than he is without. Hitting in the middle of the order, one would hope that Lopez would have more opportunities to hit with runners on or at least in his first “cleanup” at-bat. With runners in scoring position and two outs – a situation that can easily arise in the first inning – Lopez is a .256/.365/.402 hitter. That is a far cry from a feared run producer; however the on-base percentage suggests he can at least extend the inning if not find a gap for a potential RBI single or double. Basing a decision off this information is a reach at best. Meanwhile, much like the situation itself, it will have to do for right now.

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