Blue Jays Lineup Balance


Currently, the Blue Jays’ opening day line up for 2015 figures to consist of:

Jose Reyes  S

Michael Saunders  L

Jose Bautista  R

Edwin Encarnacion  R

Josh Donaldson  R

Russell Martin   R

Justin Smoak   S

Maicer Izturis S / Ryan Goins  L

Kevin Pillar R /Dalton Pompey S


Josh Thole L /Dioner Navarro S

Danny Valencia R /Steve Tolleson R

Ryan Goins L /Maicer Izturis S

Ezequiel Carrera L /Kevin Pillar R

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One thing that jumps out when looking at that list of names is the number of lefties—especially the number of lefties on the starting nine. There’s one lefty (possibly two with Goins) and 2-4 switch hitters on the starting nine. Also, no matter how you shake up the nine, you’re going to have 4 righties hitting consecutively. Bautista and Encarnacion batting third and cleanup is inevitable and Donaldson and Martin should definitely hit before the bottom 3. If you put Donaldson or Martin in the two hole, then Saunders goes down to sixth which still leaves you with 4 consecutive righties.

Looking at the bench there are three potential lefties and two potential switch hitters. However, Thole and Goins are so anemic offensively that you’d almost rather have Valencia hit against his split than have either of those two come to the plate. The Jays will likely have 7-9 righties, 2-4 switch hitters and 2-3 lefties come opening day.

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Is this a problem? Do the Jays need to balance the lineup with more lefties? It shouldn’t be a issue. For starters, Navarro, Izturis, Reyes, Pompey and Smoak all hit more from the left side. If we view them as “lefties” and four stick around, that would give us 7 righties to 6 “lefties.” More important though, are the actual splits. Balance in handedness diminishes in importance next to balance in how the lineup actually fares vs LHPs or RHPs.

Here’s another line up list—not with handedness, but with splits  (all figures in wRC+. For those unfamiliar with wRC+ : 100 is always average, 60 is terrible and 160 is Mike Trout level. For more see here)

[table id=65 /]

Let’s generalize this info a bit. Here’s another lineup with: E—even splits roughly, R—hits righties better,  L—hits lefties better, RE and LE for somewhere in between.

Reyes E

Saunders R

Bautista LE

Encarnacion  RE

Donaldson  L

Martin  E

Smoak RE

Izturis  E  / Goins  R

Pillar  L   / Pompey  R


Thole R  / Navarro  LE

Valencia L  / Tolleson  L

Ezequiel Carrera  LE / Pillar L

Izturis  E  / Goins  R

The Blue Jays are fairly well balanced when the splits are considered instead of just handedness. There are 3-5 guys on the starting nine who hit righties better (or who now hit righties better), 2-3 guys who are fairly even and 2-3 guys who hit lefties better. With the reverse splits shown by some players and the evenness of others, the Jays are more balanced than they appear at first glance.

Edit: I got confused by my own simplified splits chart and listed Pompey as R originally. That has been corrected.