The heart of the order was solid for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2017. They’re bringing back most of the same group for 2018, but how should they line up against lefties and righties?
Who bats cleanup for the Brewers?
Third baseman Travis Shaw has to hit clean up every time the Milwaukee Brewers face a right-handed starter. In 2017, Shaw posted a .275/.351/.551 batting line from the cleanup spot. He also managed a .281/.361/.530 slash line against righties.
His OPS fell to .776 against lefties last year. That’s an improvement over 2016, and he has to play at third every day for the Milwaukee Brewers. However, he needs to slide down the batting order when he faces a lefty.
Domingo Santana makes sense in the clean up spot against left-handers. Santana bats right-handed, so he has the advantage against lefties. He also posted a .892 OPS against lefties in 2017. If he’s still on the roster on Opening Day, he needs to play as often as possible against left-handers.
Who protects the cleanup hitter?
When the Milwaukee Brewers face a right-hander, Lorenzo Cain or Santana should get the call for the fifth spot in the lineup against righties. Neither has the platoon advantage, but they both produced quality numbers against right-handers in 2017. Also, slotting a right-handed hitter behind the left-handed Shaw gives the Brewers an advantage in the late innings. Opposing managers won’t have the ability to send a left-handed reliever against Shaw and have him stay in with an advantage against another lefty.
Against lefties, the Milwaukee Brewers should consider Jesus Aguilar in the fifth slot. If Aguilar makes the team, he needs to play as often as possible against left-handers. Aguilar posted an .889 OPS in 115 plate appearances against left-handers in 2017. He can absolutely rake against lefties, while Eric Thames posted a .664 OPS against left-handers.
Who bats sixth?
If the Milwaukee Brewers face a right-hander, they have a few options to consider for the sixth spot in the batting order. Both catchers and shortstop Orlando Arcia make sense in the sixth slot. Stephen Vogt posted an .803 OPS against right-handers and bats left-handed. Manny Pina posted a solid .769 OPS against right-handers, but bats right-handed. Arcia is also right-handed, but blasted 14 homers and posted a .763 OPS against righties.
When the Brewers face a left-hander, Shaw makes sense in the sixth slot. He posted a .776 OPS and blasted five homers against lefties in 2017.
The heart of the Milwaukee Brewers lineup has options to roll out against right-handers and left-handers. There really shouldn’t be a drop off in production as long as manager Craig Counsell presses the right buttons and uses his deep offense to his advantage.