Cleveland Indians: 5 Lineup Changes to Improve the Tribe's Offense

Brian Belko@@BrianBelkoContributor IIIMay 1, 2012

Cleveland Indians: 5 Lineup Changes to Improve the Tribe's Offense

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    As the 2012 MLB season develops, lineup changes will be an important way that teams, including the Cleveland Indians, will be able to improve their offensive production.

    Through the first 16 games of the season, several changes have become apparent that would greatly improve the Tribe's offense.

    Poor production from some players and great production from some unexpected sources have all contributed to making the changes necessary.

    Here is a look at five lineup changes that would help increase the Tribe's run production.

Choo Leading Off

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    Cleveland Indians outfielder Shin Soo Choo is currently hitting in the third spot of the lineup. The third spot is usually reserved for a team's best hitter. While Choo has been one of the best Indians hitters the past couple of seasons, he is off to a slower start this season.

    Instead of hitting third, Tribe manager Manny Acta should move Choo into the leadoff spot in the lineup. Choo has the ability to draw a lot of walks and is a great baserunner. He has the speed to steal bases and go from first to third on a single. Both of those things combined make Choo a great choice to lead off games for the Tribe.

    Current leadoff hitter, Michael Brantley, has struggled so far this season to the tune of a .233 average and a .300 on-base percentage. Shuffling Brantley into the ninth spot in the lineup would take a lot of pressure off the youngster and give him a chance to get things going at the bottom of the order.

Hafner Cleaning Up

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    Indians' DH Travis Hafner has been one of the Tribe's best hitters so far this season. He seems to be fully recovered from his nagging shoulder injury of seasons past and is once again becoming a feared presence in the middle of the Cleveland lineup.

    His stat line so far this season of a .295 average, 10 RBI and a .450 OBP really speaks for itself.

    With catcher Carlos Santana currently struggling in the cleanup spot, manager Manny Acta should not hesitate to make Hafner his cleanup hitter for the rest of the season. Hafner has been hitting cleanup with the absence of Choo, due to his mild hamstring strain, and has done an admirable job so far.

    This move would also help Santana by giving him more protection in the lineup, which would consequently improve the Tribe's offensive potency.

Brantley Batting Ninth

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    As was mentioned in the first slide, Indians center fielder Michael Brantley should be hitting ninth in the Tribe lineup.

    Getting the leadoff man on base is very important to a team that is struggling to score runs, and Brantley is just not getting the job done at a high enough rate.

    A move to the bottom of the lineup would give Brantley a chance to catch his breath and still give him the opportunity to set the table for the top of the lineup when his turn in the order comes.

    As the only starter currently in Cleveland from the C.C. Sabathia trade, it is important for Brantley to live up to his potential. A move to the bottom of the order should help him on his way to becoming the Tribe's future leadoff hitter.

Kipnis Swinging Second

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    So far this season, the Tribe's second baseman, Jason Kipnis, has been shuffled around in the batting order quite a bit. Even with all the movement, Kipnis has still managed to put together a solid set of stats for a second-year player.

    Kipnis is currently hitting .256 with three home runs and 12 RBI along with four stolen bases.

    He would benefit a lot from batting in the same position in the lineup everyday. Different batting positions require different approaches at the plate, and when a player never knows where he is hitting in the lineup, it is hard for that player to get into a good rhythm.

    The best spot for Kipnis would be second. That gives him a chance to get on base and utilize his good speed to get into scoring position for the middle of the Indians' lineup.

Hannahan in the Six Hole

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    For the past two seasons, Tribe third baseman Jack Hannahan has had to earn a spot on the roster during spring training. He is a player that seems to always have to prove himself year in and year out despite what he did the season before.

    However, Tribe fans have been very supportive of Hannahan not only for his outstanding defense, but also for the heart with which he plays the game. The fact that he is currently swinging a hot bat has also helped.

    With the current success of Hannahan and the continued struggles of first baseman Casey Kotchman at the plate, it only makes sense for Hannahan to continue hitting in the sixth spot of the lineup.

    Hannahan is currently hitting .290 with one home run and 14 RBI. More impressively, he is hitting .437 with runners in scoring position and an astounding .583 with runners in scoring position and two outs.

    His propensity for clutch hits makes his bat more valuable higher in the lineup.