Heading into this new season for the Cleveland Indians, manager Terry Francona made it a point to say that he liked having a balanced batting order. He stated that it was important to have a righty hit after lefty Michael Bourn hit leadoff, so he stuck switch-hitter Asdrubal Cabrera in the two hole. In order to complement Cabrera, he put Jason Kipnis in the three spot, followed by switch-hitter Nick Swisher, and then Michael Brantley. Many agreed that this group had the potential to be a deadly top of the order combination. This, however, has not been the case. Jason Kipnis has been struggling at the plate to begin the season. In 27 ABs for Kipnis, he has 10 Ks and 0 BBs. He does have three doubles, but with an average of .138 and an on base percentage of .161, moving him out of the three spot could take some pressure off of the hitter, and give him some time to get back on track.
Yes, it is still extremely early in the year, and certainly not a time to make drastic changes to a lineup that is still meshing. The Tribe still hasn’t completed ten games, but certain player’s performances warrant a possible change to the batting order. Through the first five games, Michael Brantley was hitting lights out with an average of .353. He has since then cooled off a bit, but is still hitting a productive .280 and has an on base percentage of .400. These are the types of numbers that a hitter in the number three spot should produce. By slotting Brantley into the three spot, there could finally be someone to knock in Michael Bourn, who has been nothing short of spectacular in the leadoff spot.
Another change that could be made has to do with the hot-hitting Carlos Santana. Before his wrist injury, Santana was hitting .500 with 2 home runs and 5 RBIs. Moving Santana into the five spot, with Brantley third and Kipnis seventh behind Mark Reynolds is a lineup that could help produce more runs. Again, Francona is a fan of keeping a lineup balanced by alternating right and left handed hitters, but implementing these changes is something that could help produce runs, which is something that is sorely needed with how the Tribe’s rotation is pitching.