The fact of the matter is that batting order has very little influence on the amount of runs a team generates over the course of a season, so Elliott Avent's proclivity to juggle the order in EVERY DAMN GAME, while personally annoying to me and probably unsettling to the players, ultimately has little impact on the long-term W-L record.
However, who is in the lineup does matter, and I am constantly befuddled whenever Jake Armstrong's name is not penciled onto the lineup card. Armstrong has been brutal in the field wherever he has played with 11 errors in 79 total chances (for a team worst .868 fielding percentage), but that is what the DH is for. Armstrong is an on-base machine-only Trea Turner has posted a better on-base percentage than Armstrong's .459 mark-yet Armstrong failed to receive even one plate appearance as the Pack struggled to score runs this weekend in Chestnut Hill. Instead, out machines Will Nance and Sam Morgan took all of the at bats at DH. With the Pack entering their toughest stretch of the season, it is imperative that Avent get the guys who are most likely to get on base in the lineup. Below, I will take the liberty of filling out the lineup card for him.
1st: Trea Turner, SS. Typically, your team's best hitter bats third, but when your best hitter is also one of the premier base runners in all of college baseball, it makes sense to bat him first. Not only does leading Turner off maximize the chances that he will be on base, bugging the opposing pitcher to distraction while the team's next best hitters come to bat, it also maximizes the number of plate appearances he will get over the course of a game/season. Coach Avent, stop flirting with putting Turner in the three hole and leave him at leadoff.
2nd: Jake Fincher, RF. Armstrong would also be a good choice here. Both Fincher and Armstrong are comfortable working deep into the count; Fincher is second on the team with 19 walks while Armstrong has collected a team-high 22 free passes despite his limited playing time. These guys are perfect batting behind Turner because they will give the speedster plenty of chances to pick his spot to steal a base.
Fincher is certainly no slouch when it comes to reaching base, having done so in 36 of the Pack's 38 games, and he is a superior contact hitter, handler of the bat, and base runner. Putting Fincher in the two hole would allow Avent all kinds of flexibility to bunt, straight steal, hit and run, etc. Since the Pack lack power, these are exactly the sort of tactics the Pack needs to employ to put pressure on defenses, and it also why I would prefer Fincher to Armstrong in this spot.
3rd: Brett Austin, C. After a slow start, Austin has been the team's best hitter not named Turner. He's got his season line up to .299/.354/.429 and his 15 doubles are the closest thing to a steady source of power as you will find in this lineup. Those doubles are good for 6th in the nation. He can drive guys in, get on base, and like Fincher and Turner, he can run. Austin has been caught just once in 10 base thieving attempts.
4th: Terran Senay, 1B. Senay has made a concerted effort to cut down on his strikeouts this year. He has sacrificed a bit of power but become the consummate "professional hitter" and RBI man thanks to the new approach. Last year, Senay fanned in 25% of his plate appearances and hit .222. This year, he is fanning only 16% of the time while hitting .329 with 36 RBI.
Coach, Senay should bat cleanup. Every game. Please do not put Brett Williams in front of him any more (more on that later).
5th: Armstrong, DH. Though Armstrong has slightly better on-base skills than Fincher, he also has more power and more potential to drive in runs, which is why Fincher should bat second and Armstrong fifth. The two actually have the same number of extra base hits even though Fincher has 64 more at bats. Armstrong also has seven more RBI than Fincher despite being stuck on the bench or at the bottom of the order far too often.
So what is happening instead? Free swinging Sam Morgan (OPS of .698) and Will Nance (.547) are taking Armstrong's at bats and doing very little with them. Stop this. This instance!
6th: Grant Clyde, 3B. Clyde, who is batting .253/.361/.434, comes next simply because he is the best of the rest. He is one of just a handful of Pack players to walk more than he strikes out and he shows a modicum of power with nine doubles and a pair of home runs. He actually doubles at a higher rate than Austin but hasn't put up the same counting stats since he did not earn the starting nod until a few weeks into the season.
7th: Bryan Adametz, LF. Adametz's .304 average is sexy but also mostly empty, as he has little power to speak of. He does not walk a lot either or steal bases, though he does make good contact, striking out in just five percent of his plate appearances. He would be a great number two hitter if there were not already two better options in Fincher and Armstrong.
8th: Brett Williams, CF. I never understood Williams' mystery benching earlier in the year when his bat was on fire; now, I don't understand why he bats anywhere but eighth or ninth after he has suffered through about a 20-game slump. In a double header against lowly Wagner, Williams went 7-for-9 with three double and three home runs. He is hitting .209 with four doubles and a goose egg for homers against everyone else. Overall, his .246/.338/.373 line does not justify anything more than the number eight spot in the order, though his much lauded and youtubed defense in centerfield does make him worthy of staying in the lineup.
9th: Logan Ratledge, 2B. Avent threw Matt Bergquist back in the lineup Sunday after growing tired of seeing Ratledge make outs, and Bergquist responded with a hit and a walk from the nine spot. But, ultimately, Ratledge's superior defense (two errors in 98 chances) is probably going to earn him most of the starts down the stretch. Despite Bergy's good game Sunday, both second sackers are under .200 at the plate, so it seems Bergquist's defensive struggles (six errors in 45 chances) will ultimately relegate him to the bench.
If Avent is adamant about getting Morgan in the lineup, second base would seem to be the ideal spot. He has butchered things a bit in the field (seven errors in 82 chances) in stints all over the infield, but, unlike the revolving door of Mendoza liners, he can at least hit his weight.
So there you have it, coach. Here's your lineup for the rest of the season. I might be okay with you dropping Senay to sixth against lefties or moving Fincher to CF, Armstrong to RF, and Rodon to DH, but call or text first before you make any changes.
Now, about the bullpen roles...