Breaking Down the Optimal Padres Starting Lineup

Credit: Associated Press

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Fourth

As mentioned before, the “cleanup” hitter is the fourth spot, which should go to a guy who digs the long ball. The Padres have a few guys, especially in the outfield, who do that. These are your high OPS, high home run guys. They do not necessarily have to have the highest batting average or on-base percentage, just the players who are more likely to clean the base paths with one swing.

In the outfield, the Padres have Wil Myers, Hunter Renfroe, and Franmil Reyes, all of whom have 30+ home run power. Myers attained that in 2017 while Renfroe has hit 26 in two seasons where his at-bats were limited. Reyes has displayed impressive power as he hit 16 home runs in 87 games last season, which puts him at 30 if his numbers were to be averaged out over 162 games.

If all other things are equal between these three, I would go with the player with the best overall contact rate and lower strikeout rate. Wil Myers fits that bill with a lower strikeout rate than Renfroe or Reyes with a higher career contact rate.

Batting Fourth: Wil Myers

Fifth

Just below the cleanup spot should be a very similar batter. In fact, quite simply, we will just select the player who was closest to dethroning Myers at the cleanup spot.

Batting Fifth: Franmil Reyes 

Sixth

The sixth spot is not as simple as picking the player who came in third place in the race for the cleanup spot. You want some athleticism and versatility, not one-trick ponies. This perhaps is one of the more inconsequential spots in the lineup. You want to give the pitcher a different look than the previous three hitters have given.

At catcher, Francisco Mejia is clearly the more advanced bat on the Padres, despite Austin Hedges’ experience and defensive prowess. This spring, Mejia has torn the cover off of the ball to the tune of a .414 average with three home runs, 10 RBI and 1.314 OPS. Hedges has displayed massive power with three home runs of his own and a 1.159 OPS but he is certainly more hot and cold than Mejia is.

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Let’s mix things up in this lineup and throw in a switch hitter that can create problems for pitchers in multiple ways.

Batting Sixth: Francisco Mejia

Seventh

The seventh spot can belong to a player that has the potential to leave the yard but has a few too many holes in his swing to be put into a prominent spot in the lineup. Remind you of anyone on the Padres roster?

Hunter Renfroe has immense power, hitting 52 home runs in the last two years. To his credit, he cut his strikeout rate by five percent from 2017 to 2018 while slightly increasing his walks and making much more consistent hard contact. However, when pitted against a healthy Wil Myers and Franmil Reyes, Renfroe comes in third.

Having a powerful bat like Renfroe’s down at number seven is a testament to just how good this lineup can be this season and it’s nice to have some pop towards the bottom. This prevents the pitcher from being able to relax in spots seven and eight.

Batting Seventh: Hunter Renfroe

Eighth 

This is usually a spot reserved for someone who has qualities of a leadoff or number two hitter but just needs a bit more seasoning. This hitter’s job is to get on base by any means necessary so, at the least, the pitcher can bat and allow the lineup to turn over for the next inning instead of the pitcher leading off that inning.

This player should provide a spark and put together good at-bats. They are likely to see a lot of bad pitches with the pitcher on deck in the National League, so this batter will have to be patient.

Credit: AP Photo

A potential future leadoff hitter with a patient approach? Sounds like Luis Urias to me. Some may clamor for him to be hitting much higher, maybe even leadoff, but again, let’s not throw this kid to the wolves just yet. Batting eighth will take a ton of pressure off of him and let him get his feet wet. The eighth spot probably sees the least amount of good pitches to hit in the whole lineup with the pitcher batting next but Urias already has a great approach at the plate and punishes mistakes.

Batting Eighth: Luis Urias

Again, this lineup was strictly for offensive optimization, hence why Manuel Margot and Austin Hedges are riding the bench in this scenario. They would certainly be included if this was a defensive-minded lineup.

To recap, here is what the optimal offensive lineup looks like:

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  2. Eric Hosmer, 1B
  3. Manny Machado, 3B
  4. Wil Myers, CF
  5. Franmil Reyes, RF
  6. Francisco Mejia, C
  7. Hunter Renfroe, LF
  8. Luis Urias, SS
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Nick Lee
Native of Escondido, CA. Lived in San Diego area for 20 years. Padres fan since childhood (mid-90s). I have been writing since 2014. I currently live near Seattle, WA and am married to a Seattle sports girl. I wore #19 on my high school baseball team for Tony Gwynn. I am a stats and sports history nerd. I attended BYU on the Idaho campus. I also love Star Wars.

11 thoughts on “Breaking Down the Optimal Padres Starting Lineup

  1. I know this will be unpopular, but hear me out. No one cares about the opening day lineup or an “optimal offensive lineup” since it’s becoming obvious that Tatis, Jr. will be up soon after the extra year is in play. It’s more valuable to consider the best lineup for the future. The Padres should be allowing the “highest ceiling” lineup every opportunity to win their spots till they prove they can’t. A few weeks into the season – for the duration of the season – the lineup should run as follows:

    2B Urias (long term lead off… gotta find out)
    1B Hosmer (left/right matchups still matter)
    3B Machado (best hitter/similar ABs as 2hole)
    RF Cordero (1HR per14 ABs/5 tool/find out)
    LF Myers (power/RBI AND 2nd leadoff ability)
    SS Tatis, Jr. (By default/fits too though)
    C Hedges/Mejia (not a true platoon yet)
    CF Margot (elite defense/Gotta find out with/ABs)

    Renfroe and Reyes are nice players who fit DH/AL profiles. We’re starving for a left handed bat to balance the lineup unless Mejia profiles as an outfielder (not my hope) Hosmer only non-righty profile in infield, and Tatis isn’t going anywhere, so either a lefty/switch 2B is acquired to replace Urias or it must be an outfielder. If the three batter minimum doesn’t get overturned (probable), balance matters. Renfroe and Reyes sat for “tiredness” recently. I deduce they were nearly in a deal (Indians?) for these reasons. No inside info.

    We’re closer, but Kinsler and Reyes aren’t long-term complete players fit for championship runs. Renfroe can be, but he hasn’t proven the ability to hit righties. Unless (my personal plan would not follow this for now) Cordero plays CF when Renfroe plays right and RF when Margot is in center or Myers is traded, Renfroe is not a better option in a right heavy lineup despite his awesome power.

    Kinsler had a fire Spring. I wish he hadn’t been acquired though I have always liked him and root for him. It just doesn’t fit with Machado in fold now. We need a Villar-type who can play SS now and allow Urias to settle in at 2B like Machado is at third.

    Great, different problems to have! I really appreciate the organization and staff efforts to build a monster in the West! Go Padres! Enjoy the season!

  2. If Andy Green uses a lineup that give more ABs over the season to Hosmer than to Machado he should be fired.
    Also, your slotting Myers in to play CF is absurd.
    2B Kinsler
    3B Machado
    LF Myers
    1B Hosmer
    RF Reyes
    SS Urias
    C Hedges
    CF Margot

      1. That’s like saying, (take your pick…..) “___________ (Trump; Obama; Bush; Clinton; etc) should be president re-elected because they were president before.” He should bat 8th, 7th at best. He should be known as RK (rally-killer). Better to kill a rally later in the lineup, than when your best hitters are coming up.

        1. Well you should tell Andy Green that then because it aint happening. He will play lots of CF and bat in the middle of the lineup this season.

  3. Once Reyes has the same numbers in close to 1000 PA’s then I will say he is legit. He also has issues against RHP. I don’t want Myers to play at all, much less be a black hole in the 4 spot in the order. I would bat Reyes vs. LHP and Renfroe vs. RHP. If Cordero gets back to form he showed briefly last season before the injury then he might get some 4 hole AB’s.

    You didn’t make any adjustments for LHP/RHP. Garcia will get some AB’s against RHP.

    1. I do not believe there is an optimal offensive lineup where Garcia would be the starter. He would have to replace Kinsler, Urias or Machado. He is a bench player, nothing more.

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