Take for instance the projected line-up for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Starter: R.A. Dickey
We already know that the top four batters are virtually set in stone.
Reyes is going to bat lead-off and give the Blue Jays the presence at the top of the order that they have lacked in recent seasons. By batting him in front of Cabrera, he has at least one hitter in which he can exercise his speed in front of, creating the kind of havoc you look for from a lead-off man.
Cabrera, being the contact hitter that he is, is the perfect hitter to bat in the 2-hole. He’s going to move Reyes along, he’s going to drive the ball, and he’s going to get on base, all facets of the game that you look for from your second hitter.
That sets the table for the two big bats; Bautista and Encarnacion. Having Jose Bautista healthy and productive is going to be a huge boon to this offense, especially to Edwin Encarnacion. All of a sudden, the pressure of being the only thumper is lifted off of his shoulders.
Next is where the second-guessers are going to start playing their game. In this line-up, Adam Lind is in the 5-hole for the purpose of breaking up the right-handed run. Some will say that they would trust Rasmus in this spot more, but Lind is the right guy for the job. As much as we like to dog him, his lifetime OPS is nearly 40 points higher than Rasmus and Lind’s been swinging the hotter bat this spring.
Speaking of hot bats, has J.P. Arencibia ever been swinging one. With a .472 mark, 4 home runs, and 12 RBI in just 38 plate appearances, the 27-year-old looks ready to cash in on his potential and jump right into his prime. He’ll get the opening day nod to catch R.A. Dickey, but most of those will likely go to Henry Blanco after Opening Day. He fits in nice in the sixth slot, and could give Toronto a solid boost in the bottom half of the order if he can get his strike-outs in line.
In the seventh spot, we have the aforementioned Rasmus. Talent-wise, Rasmus should be higher in this order. When he’s hot at the plate, he can be a force in the middle of the order. However, when he’d not (which is often), he can really sink a team. I hate to see him possibly batting back-to-back with Arencibia because the strike-outs could be brutal to watch, but with his power potential, you can’t really stick him any lower in the line-up.
Here’s where things get tricky, and are likely to shuffle from game to game. The way MLB.com projects it, Emilio Bonifacio and Maicer Izturis will likely round out the Opening Day line-up. That is a fairly educated guess. With Justin Masterson on the mound and holding right-handed hitters to a .232 average in 2012, the switch-hitting Izturis makes more sense to draw the start at third base than does Mark DeRosa. And with Izturis sliding to third, Bonifacio gets the first start of the season at second base. DeRosa may draw a start in game two, with the platoon of Bonifacio and Izturis staying at second, but we can expect some back and forth in this part of the line-up until Brett Lawrie returns from the disabled list.
In case you are curious, Toronto’s Opening Day opponent, the Cleveland Indians (according to MLB.com), look to have a line-up that looks something like this:
Starter: Justin Masterson
Does seeing both line-ups on paper just makes you want to skip the next few days and jump right to April 2nd as much as I do?