With the announcement of Raúl Mondesí as the Opening Day second baseman, the Royals roster picture becomes a bit clearer now. The team also hinted that right fielder Jorge Soler may open the year on the disabled list with an oblique injury, which could give Paulo Orlando a starting assignment when the Royals begin the season next Monday in Minnesota.
We have a good idea who the starting nine will be, but what will be their batting order? Ned Yost has left the question of leadoff hitter up in the air, but it seems the competition is probably down to Alcide Escobar - who led off during the Royals post-season runs in 2014 and 2015 - and Alex Gordon, demonstrably the most patient hitter in the Royals lineup. However, with Mondesí’s speed, don’t totally count out the possibility the 21-year old switch-hitter could lead off. His blazing speed could be a major asset, although he would have to demonstrate a much improved ability to get on base. Ned Yost may be wary of heaping so much responsibility on a player with fewer than 50 MLB games under his belt.
By the way: Ned Yost also said this morning he's "90 percent" on Alex Gordon starting the year in the leadoff spot.— Rustin Dodd (@rustindodd) March 27, 2017
Mike Moustakas will likely hit second, followed by Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer. Knowing that Ned likes to alternate lefties and righties, Salvador Pérez seems likely to hit fifth, followed by lefty Brandon Moss, then righty Paulo Orlando. Whoever does not win the leadoff spot will likely hit at the bottom of the lineup. Based on ZIPS projections and the Lineup Analysis tool at Baseball Musings, that lineup, with Gordon leading off and Escobar hitting eighth, followed by Mondesí, projects to score 4.065 runs per game.
That is what the Royals will likely do, but how would you construct the lineup? According to the Lineup Analysis tool, the ideal Royals lineup would be:
LF Alex Gordon
1B Eric Hosmer
RF Paulo Orlando
DH Brandon Moss
CF Lorenzo Cain
C Salvador Pérez
3B Mike Moustakas
2B Raúl Mondesí
SS Alcides Escobar
That lineup projects to 4.28 runs per game, although it doesn’t take into effect lefty/righty matchups, and ZIPS is a bit low on projecting Moustakas, in my opinion.
How would you have them lineup against Ervin Santana and the Twins next Monday?