In his short tenure as manager, Ryne Sandberg has used a different lineup almost every night.
For Sandberg, this is his chance to really learn the personalities, strengths and weaknesses of his players. He is learning through experience which players are best suited in which roles and this, of course, includes the order of the lineup.
And while Sandberg has been working with role players and guys who might not even be around next year, his Opening Day lineup is hopefully going to be the one he has to work with for all of the 2014 season. Ryan Howard is expected back, and his inclusion obviously shakes up the lineup.
But will Howard return to his cleanup role or has Domonic Brown locked that down? And what about leadoff—is there really only one player suited for that role? Also, will Sandberg break up his lefties and have Darin Ruf hit in between Howard and Brown?
The first-year manager will have all of these questions to answer, but to help him out, here is the lineup that I expect to see take the field on Opening Day. From what the numbers show, this lineup looks to be particularly productive and has a lot of potential if all goes to form.
Based on this season and expectations for next, here is the lineup the Phillies should open the season with.