The Kansas City Royals have played 26 games so far this year and have used 26different starting lineups under new manager Matt Quatraro (and bench coach Paul Hoover filling in when Quatraro was unavailable due to COVID). The leadoff spot has been fairly stable with either Bobby Witt Jr. (20 times) or MJ Melendez (6 times), but five different hitters have hit second, fourth, and fifth in the lineup.
The Royals are one of just three teams to have a different lineup each game, along with the Pirates and Marlins.
Most lineups in baseball
But you can see that most teams have a lot of different lineups, although the variations can well...vary. Just having a different #9 hitter counts as a different “lineup.”
Having different lineups isn’t inherently a bad thing, and one could argue it’s a good thing when you have a lot of unproven young players. Quatraro is looking for answers on a team that has had trouble generating runs, and in a season where contention is not really expected, it makes sense to try different solutions.
But some people definitely prefer a consistent, set lineup. Older fans may remember manager Bob Boone being slammed in the Kansas City Star by then-columnist Jeffrey Flanagan for his constant lineup shuffling - Flanny addressed him as “Abner Boonieday” for thinking he was reinventing the game of baseball.
And if you’re a close follower of the Royals, you know it’s also almost time to start playing our favorite summer game - ``Guess Bob Boone’s batting order. ‘’ All winners this season will receive a complimentary truckload of scorecards along with two gallons of white-out, courtesy of your friends who bring you the Boone-o-Meter.
For those who may have forgotten, the Royals’ skipper penciled in 152 different batting orders last season out of a possible 161 (one rainout wasn’t rescheduled).
That previous season, the 1996 Royals scored the fewest runs in the league. Perhaps Boone’s lineup shuffling was a factor or perhaps he was just looking to get more offense out of a lineup that featured light-hitting Tom Goodwin, Keith Lockhart, and David Howard.
If the Royals were to have a set lineup, what should it be? I plugged in ZIPS rest-of-the-season projections for the Royals into the Baseball Musings Lineup Optimizer. Here is the ideal lineup, with their projections included:
|1B Vinnie Pasquantino||.356||.480|
|SS Bobby Witt Jr.||.310||.458|
|LF Edward Olivares||.316||.402|
|C Salvador Perez||.308||.486|
|RF MJ Melendez||.315||.446|
|DH Franmil Reyes||.305||.446|
|3B Hunter Dozier||.298||.403|
|2B Michael Massey||.292||.379|
|CF Kyle Isbel||.293||.373|
This stacks all three lefties in the lineup with each other, not ideal for facing lefty relievers late in the game. I’m sure fans have thoughts about playing Hunter Dozier too! So what would be your optimal lineup? Should the Royals have a set lineup every night?