Carleton: Re-re-thinking the second spot in the order

From Russell Carleton at Baseball Prospectus on April 1, 2020:

It’s become an article of faith in the Sabermetric world that a team’s best hitter should bat in the second spot in the lineup. As a matter of tradition, the best hitter always hit third, but then someone noticed that often left him in the first inning batting with two outs and no runners because the first two guys made outs. What a waste of a talented bat! Placed a little earlier, even if the leadoff guy made an out, your best hitter would hit with one out. Plus, as the second guy in the lineup, he was just more likely to come up to bat later in the game. If he really is your best hitter, why not have him hit more often?

Traditional lineup construction often relied on a strange and oddly specific narrative about how baseball works. It’s as if someone wrote a fanfic about the game once and for some reason, everyone decided that was canon. The leadoff guy had to be fast, although no one ever paid much attention to whether he was actually good at hitting. The second guy was a good “contact hitter.” The third guy was the best all-around hitter.

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Originally published: April 2, 2020. Last Updated: April 2, 2020.