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The Brewers have both players that dominate lefties and players who should avoid facing them at all costs. This of course means the lineup is going to undergo some changes.
It has been pointed out that the NL Central has relatively few lefty starting pitchers, so if changing spots in the lineup really disrupts hitters, at least it won’t happen too often. I feel that professional hitters should be able to handle minor changes in the lineup.
Of course players and managers have a better feel for the disruptive nature of changing lineups, but if the players aren’t opposed to the idea, I think this lineup makes the most sense on paper.
1. CF Carlos Gomez
2014 slash vs. LHP .258/.352/.476
Right after saying Gomez’s talents are wasted as a leadoff man, I name him my leadoff man against lefties. If there was a better choice, I would have chosen it, but Gomez is the only hitter that fits the bill against lefties. He gets on base, and he’s a great base stealer, and he’s experienced as a leadoff guy.
2. C Jonathan Lucroy
2014 slash vs. LHP .304/.374/.464
Lucroy’s splits were remarkably similar in 2014, finishing exactly 1 OPS point higher against lefties. This is particularly surprising given the huge spread in his career splits, where he owns an .887 OPS against lefties and a .746 OPS versus righties.
In fact, particularly prior to 2014, much of his success as a hitter was buoyed by his outstanding play against lefties. It would be better for the team if Lucroy could maintain his new level of balance, but either way he’ll be a major contributor against southpaws.
3. RF Ryan Braun
2014 slash vs. LHP .279/.309/.514
Braun’s career OPS against lefties is over 1.000. He’s the obvious cleanup man here.
4. 3B Aramis Ramirez
2014 slash vs. LHP .327/.400/.624
As disappointing as A-Ram was against righties in 2014 is as good as he was versus lefties. He hit 8 home runs against lefties in less than a third of the PA it took him to hit 7 home runs against righties.
Ramirez’s career OPS against southpaws is just north of .900, and he and Braun should feast on them in 2015.
5. LF Khris Davis
2014 slash vs. LHP .258/.301/.476
Davis is clearly a strong hitter against lefties, and even those who think he should platoon with Gerardo Parra recognize this. He is the type of hitter that projects for a lot of team-friendly statistics from the 5 hole, like home runs and RBI.
Jimenez: 2014 AAA/MLB slash vs. LHP .282/.312/.519
Rogers: 2014 AA/AAA/MLB slash vs. LHP .295/.367/.439
I was comfortable with Jason Rogers filling the bench position of corner infielder for 2015, but the Brewers brought in an additional body, meaning they likely were not. Still, we may not know who the Brewers favor until after Spring Training, so I’ll leave my options available.
Both hitters have performed well against lefties in the minor leagues, as most righty batters will. I find it reasonable to project at least a .700 OPS versus southpaws from either of them, well above the career OPS of Adam Lind (.588).
7. SS Jean Segura
2014 slash vs. LHP .182/.274/.236
Segura was bad against lefties in 2014. He was bad in general, but he was worse against lefties, which is atypical for right-handed batters. He did slash .317/.358/.507 against them in 2013, and like I mentioned before, I suspect his true abilities lie somewhere between those extremes.
8. Scooter Gennett
2014 slash vs. LHP .103/.125/.128
If the Brewers insist on playing Gennett against lefties in 2015, I expect they let him do so from the bottom of the lineup. Plenty has been made of Gennett’s (in)ability against southpaws, and I think he will end up no more than well below average against them.
Plenty of full-time lefties are worse against southpaws, but there is a limit to what a team must deem acceptable. Teams try to make everyday hitters out of platoon guys all the time, leaving players like Matt Adams and Lucas Duda wasting lineup spots.
There is no shame in being a platoon guy, particularly when you post such outstanding numbers against righties, who are the majority of pitchers anyway. It will be interesting (read: frustrating) to watch Gennett face lefties, which still appears to be the plan.