The right man at No. 3?

For the first time this season, Vernon Wells got the day off on Wednesday for Toronto’s Canada Day matinee against the Tampa Bay Rays. In other words, manager Cito Gaston had to pencil in someone else’s name in the No. 3 slot in the lineup (Wells has batted in the 3-hole since Alex Rios was moved down to sixth in the order). Gaston’s choice? Adam Lind.

Not a bad choice.

Lind went 2-for-4 with a solo homer and a pair or runs scored in helping the Blue Jays snap a four game losing streak and win, 5-0, over the Rays. It was a solid debut in the three-spot for Lind. Debut, we say, because Gaston is reportedly going to stick with Lind in that spot as the Blue Jays move forward. Wells, meanwhile, is expected to move down to fifth in the order starting Friday against the Yankees. 

Wells has struggled for most of the 2009 season. So it wasn’t too surprising to see those struggles continue when the 30-year-old was moved to the No. 3 spot after Rios was bumped down in the order. In 17 games in the role, Wells batted just .243 (18-for-74) with two home runs, eight RBIs, four walks and 12 strikeouts.

Prior to that, Rios had batted .261 (66-for-253) with seven home runs and 27 RBIs in 61 games manning the 3-hole. In other words, the production the Jays have received in that spot – where a team’s best all-around hitter is supposed to go – has been pretty dismal.

So, Gaston will give Lind a shot at turning that around. In 78 games this season, Lind has batted .315 with 16 homers and 53 RBIs. In addition, he leads the team in doubles (25), extra-base hits (41) and OPS (.946).

On the surface, it seems like a good move. Obviously, Lind’s numbers are solid. And the move also gets a left-handed bat up higher in the order. However, that raises the question of whether or not Lind can hit well against lefties. So far, he’s batted .319 (29-for-91) against southpaws. But he’s walked just five times compared with 22 strikeouts in those situations, and his OPS is much lower (.827) against lefties than it is against right-hander pitchers (.977). However, a look at Wells’ numbers against lefties kind of makes that moot … .195 (15-for-77), .259 on-base percentage, .545 OPS.

Look for Lind in the No. 3 spot at the new Yankee Stadium come Friday …

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5 Responses to “The right man at No. 3?”

  1. gabriel Says:

    A slight quibble: according to my memory, Bill James did an excellent analysis of batting order theory. One thing he found is that the importance of batting order is generally overstated. But on the question of what the most valuable spot in the order is – i.e. where the team should place its best hitter, he determined that the 2nd and 4th spots were more valuable than the 3 hole. The reason is that the 3 hole comes up to bat with none on and two out a disproportionate amount of the time. The third spot is a good spot for a strong hitter who nonetheless doesn’t draw many walks. In the current Jays lineup, that would be Aaron Hill. Without doing something drastic, like pulling Scutaro from the leadoff position, I’d suggest the Jays lineup should look something like this:

    Scutaro
    Overbay
    Hill
    Lind
    Rolen
    Rios
    Wells
    Barajas
    Millar/Snider/Adams

  2. TD Says:

    Thanks for the quibble. You know, I could live with that lineup. I’ve heard the support before about having Overbay hit in the 2-spot. Makes sense given his high on-base percentage and the fact that he’s one of two Jays (Scutaro the other) with more walks than strikeouts this year. I also like it because it gives you righty-lefty-righty-lefty-righty, etc.

    The only problem is that he doesn’t play every day (with Millar getting games against lefties). And when it comes to the top of the lineup, it’s certainly more preferable to have guys in there that are playing every day. Cito has definitely shown his preference for that too (for the longest time his first 5 hitters never changed spots and played every day).

    On another note, that’s gotta be the most expensive #6-7 combo in the league.

  3. Jay B Says:

    this is wells’ 2nd day off…he came in as a pinch runner in his other day off which is why he shows as having played in every game…

    also, i think rolen and lind are the best options for 3 and 4, and i’m thinking wells will be moved down the lineup when this road trip starts…

    my lineup (against righties) would look something like…

    scutaro
    hill
    rolen
    lind
    overbay
    rios
    wells
    barajas
    whateverplugtheyareauditioningthatday

    then make the appropriate changes when wells and rios find their games…

  4. gabriel Says:

    I’d entirely forgotten about needing to adjust for lefties.

    So, facing lefties, I’d suggest something like this:

    Scutaro
    Hill
    Lind
    Rolen
    Rios
    Wells
    Barajas
    DH/1B/LF
    DH/1B/LF

    Against lefties, our two best hitters are probably Hill and Rolen, with Lind moving to 3rd.

    As an aside, it’s very sad that it makes sense versus lefties to hit two of our DH, 1B and LF in the bottom two spots, but given the current roster, thems the facts.

    Help may be coming, of course. I’d rather see David Dellucci take over the DH spot against righties until Snider earns his way back. And against lefties, I wonder if it isn’t time to cut bait with Millar and give Brian Dopirak a shot. Or even Randy Ruiz. Either one should be at least comparable to Millar with a higher upside.

  5. Jay B Says:

    let’s go get nick johnson and be done with all this nonsense…

    left handed power bat who can dh, hit cleanup, and has big obp…how many more holes can one player fill?

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