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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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:
- Ian Kinsler, 2B
- Eric Hosmer, 1B
- Manny Machado, 3B
- Wil Myers, CF
- Franmil Reyes, RF
- Francisco Mejia, C
- Hunter Renfroe, LF
- Luis Urias, SS