Batting Order Value Changes by Mike Podhorzer April 5, 2017 As difficult as it is to keep up with during the spring, my Pod Projections reflect a hitter’s expected position in the batting order. For the best projections, they must, as all the counting stat forecasts are affected by a hitter’s spot. And yet even when we think we know where a hitter is going to slot in, when the games finally start to matter, there are always surprises. So here are a bunch of hitters whose spot in the batting order differs from my projection and whose value would therefore be affected meaningfully if it sticks. Player | Actual Lineup Spot vs Projected Lineup Spot Tyler Saladino | 1st vs 8th The assumption was that rookie Charlie Tilson would be the White Sox leadoff hitter, but he hurt his foot during the spring and could be out for a little while. So then we all figured Tim Anderson would serve in that role and perhaps Melky Cabrera hitting second. Instead, Saladino has been nabbed as the leadoff man, with Anderson sliding into the second hole. Saladino has been a favorite actual sleeper, by which I mean his value wasn’t actually inflated during draft season, and he remained the rare so-called sleeper that continued to fit the description. Now with a move to the top of the order, he’s even more attractive. The issue here throwing fantasy owners off is that he doesn’t figure to stand out in any particular category. But if I gave him 550 plate appearances, I would have him projected for 10 homers and 17 steals, which is most definitely worth more than you think. With the additional plate appearances hitting leadoff, all his counting stats will get a boost (with the exception of perhaps his RBI total). We’re all rightfully worried about Yoan Moncada’s eventual promotion, but let’s be real here — he hasn’t played a game at Triple-A yet and struck out nearly 31% of the time at Double-A. Let’s first see how he performs at the highest minor league level before even thinking about how Saladino’s playing time might be hampered. Mitch Haniger | 2nd vs 6th Here’s the sleeper that wasn’t, as everyone seemingly loved Haniger heading into the season. Even the Mariners apparently do, as they have been hitting him second in the order, rather than in the bottom half. Hitting in front of the meat of the order might curb his stolen base attempts, but everything else about this move is a major positive. It also validates the team’s confidence in him, which is important. Jarrod Dyson | 9th vs 1st It was a rare moment, or rare many moments, when I wasn’t the high man on Dyson for a change. He figured to open the year on either the strong side of a platoon or as an every day player, batting leadoff. But instead, he has hit ninth in his first two games. The first was against a lefty, so the thought was he’d bat at the bottom against southpaws, and leadoff against righties. But last night against a righty, he was back at the bottom, with Jean Segura at the top, followed by Haniger. That really takes a large bite out of his value, as he’ll lose over 100 plate appearances with the switch, which is going to kill his counting stats and reduce his stolen base opportunities. Ryon Healy | 3rd vs 6th The Athletics lineup was a work in progress during the spring and initially, Healy figured to hit in the middle of it. But by the end, it seemed as if the team settled on him as their sixth hitter. Just kidding. Healy has now hit third in the first two games, which is not significantly better than sixth, but definitely a nice little boost. That said, his spot seems less secure given that they have a bunch of players they could reasonably move around in the lineup. While I’m not convinced that Healy can hit for the same average, I do mostly believe in his power spike. Jed Lowrie | 6th vs 2nd I’m almost got suckered into him hitting second in the order as I thought it would convince me to roster him in AL Tout Wars. I managed to avoid such a decision and I’m glad I did. Lowrie would have only been interesting hitting toward the top of the lineup, as he doesn’t figure to contribute much in speed or power. So you’d really just be buying him for the regular playing time, for as long as he could remain off the DL, would would drive acceptable runs scored and runs batted in totals. Batting sixth now though, he’s barely even above replacement level even in an AL-Only league.