Last night Royals.com beat writer Jeffrey Flanagan reported that Ned Yost thinks he has settled on a line-up heading into the season. It is as tweeted:
Ned says reg season #Royals batting order could look like this: Esky, Gordon, Cain, Hoz, Morales, Rios, Perez, Moose, Infante.— Jeffrey Flanagan (@FlannyMLB) March 25, 2015
With the obvious exception of Alcides Escobar at the top of the order--who will sit atop the order if for no other reason than for superstition--there could be far worse lineups. Obviously an optimized lineup would not see a man with a sub-.300 career OBP leading off, but that comes with the qualifier that batting orders are ultimately not that important--an optimized lineup would account for roughly one win over the course of an entire season. For those needing a quick refresher, the order of importance in terms of avoiding outs (according to The Book) would be as follows:
#1, #4, #2, #5, #3, #6, #7, #8, #9
The second and fourth spots would favor OBP and SLG, respectively, and OBP should be stacked at the top of the order for obvious reasons.
Seeing Alex Gordon's name higher than sixth in the order is nice. Seeing his name second (assuming first is not an option because Alcides Escobar is clearly the motor that makes the offense run all the way to the World Series) is arguably the best place for him. If Lorenzo Cain were not to see significant regression to the mean at the plate this year (no sure thing), a lineup consisting of Gordon, Cain, Rios, Hosmer, Morales, Perez, Moose, Infante, Escobar would probably be optimal while maintaining the alternating handedness that Yost prefers until the eight spot.
The best part of looking down at the bottom of either lineup, of course, is seeing Omar Infante's name down there and thinking about how much money is still owed to the balky-elbowed second baseman through the 2017 season.