Mets struggle with 2nd spot in lineup

Fans often make big deals about who bats where in the lineup but in the overall scheme of things it does not matter very much. Now, that does not mean teams should pull their lineup out of a hat or start batting their pitcher leadoff. But the standard lineup does not come out much worse than the optimized lineup over an entire season and if Joe Star wants to bat third – that’s an easy concession to make.

But you will have to forgive members of the 2011 Mets if they check the lineup and then mutter if they see themselves batting second on a particular day. This year, the Mets have gotten less production from the second spot in the order than they have from the eighth. And it’s not any one person you can point to and blame for this, either. The Mets have had 11 different players get at-bats in the two-hole this season.

The National League average for hitters in the second spot is .258/.318/.370 for a .688 OPS. This is higher than the average for the either the seventh (.682) or eighth (.656) spots in the average NL lineup. Overall, the Mets rank 14th in OPS production from the second spot in the order, a point ahead of the Nationals. The Marlins bring up the rear with a .564 OPS, with most of the damage done by Omar Infante, who has a .575 OPS in 241 PA.

Here are how the Mets have done with the second spot in the lineup:

G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS BAbip
Justin Turner 35 163 143 15 36 8 0 1 19 12 19 .252 .333 .329 .662 .282
Dan Murphy 22 95 86 11 22 6 0 2 7 6 9 .256 .319 .395 .714 .267
Willie Harris 11 48 40 13 11 1 0 1 4 7 16 .275 .396 .375 .771 .435
Angel Pagan 8 35 31 2 2 0 0 0 0 3 6 .065 .171 .065 .236 .080
Josh Thole 8 32 27 3 5 0 0 0 4 5 6 .185 .313 .185 .498 .238
Ruben Tejada 2 9 8 1 2 0 0 0 1 1 2 .250 .333 .250 .583 .333
Chin-lung Hu 2 5 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 .000 .200 .000 .200 .000
Jason Pridie 3 5 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 .000 .000 .000 .000 .000
Scott Hairston 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000 .500 .000 .500 .000
Ronny Paulino 1 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 .000
Carlos Beltran 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 .000
Francisco Rodriguez 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
D. J. Carrasco 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Pedro Beato 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Team Total 100 397 348 45 78 15 0 4 35 36 64 .224 .314 .302 .616 .263
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/5/2011.

Now let’s compare their OPS while hitting second compared to their overall OPS and their OPS at whichever position they’ve hit in the most outside of the second slot.

Overall OPS OPS batting 2nd OPS in other position
Turner .696 .662 .700 (6th)
Muprhy .774 .714 .745 (4th)
Harris .644 .771 .627 (7th)
Pagan .697 .236 .831 (5th)
Thole .660 .498 .734 (7th)

Of the five players who’ve batted the most in the second slot, only Harris has done better there than elsewhere. Most players have performed noticeably better when they hit elsewhere in the lineup, no one more so than Pagan. That .236 OPS is not a typo – he really stunk up the joint when he was hitting second.

The fact that the Mets have one of the better offenses in the National League is surprising given how many big bats have spent time on the DL for them this season. It’s even more of a shock given how poor they have been at the second spot in the lineup.

Hopefully, when David Wright returns after the All-Star break, he replaces Turner in the lineup and Pagan replaces Turner in the second spot in the order. I do not believe that Pagan will be the anchor he was earlier in the season and I expect him to provide better production going forward than any of the team’s numerous other candidates did in the first half of the year.

1 comment for “Mets struggle with 2nd spot in lineup

  1. Metsense
    July 5, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    I just posted Charlie with the Pagan 2nd idea before I even looked at your post. It is the speed of Reyes and Pagan at the top of the order that intrigues me. The other advantage is the gap power of both,and that they are both switch hitters. The 31 AB was also at a time when Angel wasn’t hitting very well. I can’t wait for this lineup to get healthy (is that possible?)

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