The Phillies batting lineup has seemingly been in a constant state of fluctuation so far this season.
Of the 64 games that the Phils have played so far this year, they have had 42 different batting orders, and that’s not including the pitcher’s spot.
Injuries have been one of the biggest reasons for all the change, but it goes deeper than that.
In the first 27 games of the year, Shane Victorino led off all but one of those games, while Jimmy Rollins was batting third.
The next 30 games would see Rollins leading off all but two of those games with Victorino batting second for the first 10 of those games before going on the DL.
Placido Polanco started out the season in the two spot then switched over too the three hole until Chase Utley came back.
While all those changes were taking place, the first 40 games of the season also saw Raul Ibanez and Ben Francisco rotating out of the fifth spot behind Ryan Howard.
Friday night's game, No. 64 on the year, saw the debut of a lineup that the Phils have yet to use this year, but it resulted in seven runs, which they've only done twice in their last 30 games.
The lineup consisted of Rollins leading off followed by Victorino, Utley, Howard, Polanco, Ibanez, Dominic Brown, Carlos Ruiz and the pitcher.
It was only the 11th time in Polanco’s entire career that he has batted fifth.
The overwhelming consensus has been that the Phils need a right-handed power bat to protect Howard, and although Polanco would hit a Grand Slam in Friday's game, he’s not considered to be much of a power threat.
However, I think the team is at its best when it utilizes Rollins and Victorino’s speed at the top of the lineup and Utley and Howard at the three and four spot might as well be etched in stone.
So giving Polanco, the guy with the best batting average on the team, a chance to drive in more runs seems like a good idea.
The only change I’d make would be having Brown bat sixth, Ruiz seventh and Ibanez eighth. I've been very impressed with Dominic Brown's ability to overcome all that spring training tinkering with his swing and his subsequent injury.
The way Charlie Manuel usually operates, it’s likely that he’ll trot this same lineup out for the next game, given its initial success.
I’m hopeful that this batting order might have some staying power, but then again, if it doesn't, there are always 40,319 other combinations that might work better. Then again, math was never my strong suit, so you might want to check that number.
All in all, I’m fairly confident that the Phillies will find their groove with one of these lineups. Remember, as poorly as the offense has performed for the majority of the season, they still have the best record in all of baseball.
So sit back and enjoy the ride, Phils fans, because the bats will come alive, and when they do, the rest of the league is in big trouble.
Credit to baseballreference.com for these lineup numbers.
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