Philadelphia Phillies: Predicting the Phillies opening day lineup

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Philadelphia Phillies
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8 (Pete’s 9)  2B Cesar Hernandez

Justin: Let the fastest guy on your team get on base with only the pitcher separating you from the top of your order. Hernandez is going to steal bases and be in prime position for McCutchen and Segura to get him home.

I know a lot of people are going to want Cesar Hernandez to lead off, and he very well may end up doing that. But I also like him here where he can be a threat to be on base by the time the top of the order comes back around. Heck, Kapler could even bat the pitcher in the eight spot and have Hernandez play the role of a super lead-off man. It’s not a terribly crazy idea if done infrequently. Hernandez has similar on-base numbers as McCutchen, but he clearly excels with his speed and will yet again be the fastest base-runner the Phillies possess.

He did strike out 155 times last year, so cutting down on the whiffs would certainly help his hitting numbers. But overall, he’s been above or close to .360 OPS his last three seasons, so getting on base is not a problem for him. Having a player like Hernandez at the end of the order would be a luxury, as a player with his speed would be a huge advantage, allowing him to flip lineup in the Phillies favor.

It’s a matter a balance, and the Phillies will have no shortage of that regardless of who they put here. Still, I think Hernandez could really prove a challenging out here with ducks on the pond and the top of the order looming.

Pete: A second leadoff man to turn over the lineup a batter early.

For the longest time, I thought to bat the pitcher eighth was one of the most ridiculous concepts a manager could attempt. The more I look at it, especially with this lineup, the more I like Ceasar in the nine-hole.  As Justin mentioned, I feel like Hernandez can be a super leadoff man. Unlike Justin, I think this can work as a regular tactic.

Due to the powerfully consistent string of capable batters one through seven, I think the pitcher in the eight-hole can move any runners into scoring position via bunt before turning the lineup over a batter early with Hernandez batting ninth.

A speed demon, Hernandez in the nine-spot will play the role of leadoff man in each of his at-bats. He’s sporting a .279 career average and has two seasons where he hit above .285. He also has a keen eye for the strike zone, drawing a career-high 95 walks last season. In the process of knocking in Herrera and company, Hernandez can get on base and swipe one of his own before the Philly Phive come back around.

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Along with a career-high 95 walks, Hernandez sported a career-high 155 strikeouts last season. He also dipped in nearly every statistic, most notably his batting average which nearly dropped to .250. With a pitcher staring down the loaded barrel of the Philly Phive, Hernandez can certainly capitalize and return to his highly efficient form that the franchise is accustomed to.