How to Make the Batting Lineup – A New Coach’s Guide to Making a Batting Lineup in Seconds
How to Make the Batting Lineup in Seconds
Making a batting lineup is no easy task. The minute you start building your lineup, or what I like to call: “the Rubik’s cube of baseball,” you realize that there is no cookie cutter way to make a lineup. I bet that up until now you’ve been using what you learned when you were a kid. Bat your fastest player first and your biggest player fourth. The last hitter is usually the weakest in the field too. Maybe it’s worked for you. If not, here are a couple of approaches to writing lineups that can be trusted. Some work better than others but that depends on the dynamic of your team. There is no right or wrong way to do it but some are more successful than others.
The Standard Model has a good spread of talent and also allows an opportunity for more runners to get on base before your strongest player bats. The up side to this approach is that you could potentially have bases loaded when the strongest player comes to the plate. The down side to this approach is that your strongest player could be leading off the second inning with no one on base to drive in. With youth leagues, this approach sees its best success because youth teams tend to have more plate appearance with inconsistent pitching. You can afford to bat three players before the strongest players because most innings aren’t 1-2-3 innings. The idea of having a fast player bat ninth is so the lead-off hitter doesn’t have to be held up at a base because the ninth hitter wasn’t fast enough to advance.
More coaches are adapting to the Power at the Top Model listed below. You can see that while much of the order is the same, the placement of hitters changes. You can see that the lead-off batter is no longer decided by the fastest player on the team. It is decided by the likelihood that that player will reach base safely. Statistically, this gives you a better chance of having runners on base when your strongest hitter comes up. You’ll also notice that the second hitter is no longer the best contact hitter. In the standard model, the best contact hitter bats second so that the lead-off batter can get in scoring position. Here, we have what would normally be a three hitter batting second because we want this player to receive more plate appearances per game. By moving them up one spot in the lineup, every ten games, this player will receive one more plate appearance than the next position in the lineup. For an average twenty game high school season, this would only average two more plate appearances than normal but for longer seasons this number could get up to as many as six for an average college season. Who knows what these additional appearances can do in clutch situations. To some this number might be too small to use this approach. To others, every chance counts if you don’t have many good hitters on the team.
The third and final approach would be the Lineup by Position Model. I would only recommend you use this approach if you don’t know anything about your team other than their positions.
This method is the least reliable but gives you your best shot when you haven’t seen any of your batters swing. This might be an effective method if you are with new team and don’t know anything about the hitters. Find out their positions first and use the “Lineup by Position” template. This is not a full-proof plan but sometimes you’ll be able to figure out what kind of hitter a player is based on their position. Often times the best hitter is the best fielder. The best fielders are usually positioned up the middle: catcher, pitcher, short stop, and center fielder. The reason why 1B is batting fourth is because usually the 1B is the biggest player on the team. Remember, this is just a prediction. Your team might be completely different. I am just saying from experience; this is a common dynamic for teams.
The three models covered allows any coach in any position to construct a lineup in a matter of seconds. Spend less time analyzing the lineup and coach your players. The only way an average hitter can get better is by countless reps and good coaching. If you don’t use one of these templates, it doesn’t mean you are a bad coach. If you spend more than five minutes making your lineup, hand the clipboard to someone else and keep throwing batting practice because while you are trying to create a masterpiece, Johnny is in the cage ready to hit.
-Casey Medairy, Coach COA
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