Should Albert Pujols be moved out of his customary three-hole in favor of the newly signed Josh Hamilton?
The Los Angeles Angels acquisition of free agent outfielder Josh Hamilton came as a huge surprise. The market for Hamilton was very slow to develop, and up until the past few days, it was not very clear which teams were actually in on him. With no team making it known they had a strong interest in the slugger, the consensus was that Hamilton would eventually return to Texas.
The Angels had apparently been stalking their prey, laying in the weeds the whole time. Last Thursday they finally decided to pounce.
Hamilton essentially replaces Torii Hunter, but in a much different offensive capacity. The sweet swinging lefty is a middle of the order masher, while Hunter was a top-of-the-order hitter.
Prior to the Hamilton signing, Mike Scoscia had stated that Peter Bourjos would play center, Mike Trout would move over to left and Mark Trumbo would man right field. The signing of Hamilton changes that plan dramatically and most likely spells the end of Bourjos as an everyday player for the Halos.
The outfield will be Hamilton, Trout and Trumbo from left to right. The infield will remain unchanged with Pujols at first, Howie Kendrick at second base and Erik Aybar and Alberto Callaspo on the left side. Chris Ianetta will once again be the everyday catcher.
The starting lineup come opening day in 2013 will be as follows:
- Mike Trout
- Howie Kendrick
- Albert Pujols
- Josh Hamilton
- Mark Trumbo
- Kendrys Morales
- Chris Ianetta
- Alberto Callaspo
- Erick Aybar
Who should bat cleanup for the Angels?
This lineup keeps Trout at the top, which was never going to change anyway. In my opinion, Kendrick is the better hitter between Callaspo and Aybar and as a result, should bat second, but they may be interchangeable.
Now, we get to the nitty gritty.
Hamilton is accustomed to batting third, something he did throughout his career with the Rangers. On most other clubs he would bat third, but that is not going to happen when you have Albert Pujols. Hamilton will bat cleanup and provide Pujols with a fearful presence looming behind him. Pujols stays in the three-hole because has hit there virtually everyday for the last 10 seasons, and even though he has fallen a bit, he is still one of the top-three hitters in all of baseball. Hamilton is probably a top-five hitter in his own right, but Prince Albert is the face of the franchise.
Batting Pujols third will allow Scoscia to alternate between lefties and righties from Pujols, Hamilton and Trumbo to Morales, making to difficult for other managers to navigate the murderers row in the middle of the order.
Scocisa now has two of the greatest players of this generation batting in the middle of his order. They are surrounded by young, up-and-coming players such as Trumbo and Morales and a potential Hall of Fame-type talent in Mike Trout.
It really can’t get much better for the Angels, who will now boast the most dynamic and talented lineup from top to bottom in the game today.