MLB: Roster Arguments (March 27)

Jon Becker, @mlbrandomfandom

Welcome to another addition of MLB Roster Arguments! A few days ago, I focused on bullpen situations that I thought needed changing (two of the three have already been at least half resolved!) and now it’s time for AL starting lineups that I believe need to be reordered. NL lineup arguments will be up in a couple days, so stay on the lookout!

As always, remember that the lineup projections at Roster Resource are based on what the team is likely to roll out on a frequent basis, not what the “roster geeks” here would put together if we were given the keys to the team, so I’m not here to offend anyone (except for those running the teams).

White Sox: Some Minor Changes

Current Projected Lineup:

1. Adam Eaton, CF
2. Melky Cabrera, LF
3. Jose Abreu, 1B
4. Adam LaRoche, DH
5. Avisail Garcia, RF
6. Conor Gillaspie, 3B
7. Alexei Ramirez, SS
8. Tyler Flowers, C
9. Micah Johnson, 2B

My Proposed Lineup:

1. Adam Eaton, CF
2. Conor Gillaspie, 3B
3. Jose Abreu, 1B
4. Adam LaRoche, DH
5. Melky Cabrera, LF
6. Avisail Garcia, RF
7. Alexei Ramirez, SS
8. Tyler Flowers, C
9. Micah Johnson, 2B

It’s nothing against Melky (who proved last year that he was awesome without ‘roids, even with some injury concerns); I just don’t think he walks quite enough (career .053 differential between BA and OBP), and I think his power bat (16 HR last year) would be better suited in the five spot. He’d also be more likely than Garcia– who gets pressure taken off of him moving down a spot– to drive in some more runs with a higher batting average.

Gillaspie actually has the same .053 AVG/OBP differential for his career that Cabrera has, and although he has a higher K%, his BB% is also higher. The biggest reason that I put Gillaspie in the 2-hole, however, is because his BABIP was .09 higher than Cabrera’s– a good benefit to have with Adam Eaton’s wheels on the bases.

If the White Sox had a more experienced 5-hitter in their projected lineup, I’d keep it how it is, but I think it’s a necessity to move Cabrera down so he can reap the benefits of having Abreu and LaRoche on base for him often, and not just Eaton and whoever’s hitting at the bottom of the lineup.

Rays: Why, Asdrubal, Why?

Current Projected Lineup:

1. Desmond Jennings, LF
2. John Jaso, DH
3. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
4. Evan Longoria, 3B
5. James Loney, 1B
6. Steven Souza, RF
7. Kevin Kiermaier, CF
8. Rene Rivera, C
9. Logan Forsythe, 2B

My Proposed Lineup:

1. Desmond Jennings, LF
2. John Jaso, DH
3. James Loney, 1B
4. Evan Longoria, 3B
5. Steven Souza, RF
6. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
7. Rene Rivera, C
8. Logan Forsythe, 2B
9. Kevin Kiermaier, CF

I toiled with this lineup for quite a long time, and I ultimately decided to keep Jennings in the leadoff spot because he walks enough to offset his very high (19.9% in 2014) K%, and there really aren’t any better options, as Kiermaier strikes out too often as well (without the walks) and Jaso is better served in the two-spot. The biggest change here was knocking Asdrubal Cabrera off his pedestal and moving him from the 3-spot to the 6-spot. Asdrubal’s BABIP was way below average last year (.272 compared to a .307 average) but it’s been below that .307 average for years, long enough to the point where I’m thinking it’s a trend and he’s simply not making enough hard contact, and his wRC+ of 97 in 2014 backs up that he’s a below-average hitter at this point. It’s far from a good lineup even the way I made it, but simply put, you can’t have a guy who’s been below average multiple years (his last above-average wRC+ was 112 in 2012) in the 3-spot. I’m being a little hypocritical in putting Steven Souza, who showed little last year in the majors and is struggling in Spring Training this year, above him, but I’d rather bank on Souza’s future ceiling being reached than Cabrera reverting to his 2012 self in a pitcher-friendly park.

Rangers: Change. Everything. Now.

Current Projected Lineup:

1. Leonys Martin, CF
2. Elvis Andrus, SS
3. Shin-Soo Choo, RF
4. Adrian Beltre, 3B
5. Prince Fielder, 1B
6. Mitch Moreland, DH
7. Jake Smolinski, LF
8. Rougned Odor, 2B
9. Robinson Chirinos, C

My Proposed Lineup:

1. Shin-Soo Choo, RF
2. Jake Smolinski, LF
3. Adrian Beltre, 3B
4. Prince Fielder, 1B
5. Mitch Moreland, DH
6. Robinson Chirinos, C
7. Leonys Martin, CF
8. Rougned Odor, 2B
9. Elvis Andrus, SS

Noticed how I changed every spot?

Sorry, Elvis, but just because you’re starting a $120M(!) contract doesn’t mean you get to hit in the top part of the lineup, or even the top 8. He’s hit terribly over the past couple years, and Smolinski’s raked ever since he came up last year (and Spring Training this year, to boot), and he deserves the two-spot behind Choo, who’s too much of an on-base machine to put anywhere but leadoff.

After deciding on those two spots, the rest of the lineup came into place, with Beltre and Fielder moving into more familiar 3-4 spots, with everyone else moving up. I also hit Chirinos 6th to break up the lefties, and Chirinos has good enough pop to hit well in that spot. Against lefties, with Ryan Rua as the DH, the lineup would be a bit different (maybe even with Adam Rosales in for Odor) but overall the lineup is improved with an on-base machine and a stud 1-2, mashers 3-4, and at the very least interesting projects all the way through the rest of the lineup.