Lineup talk: Filling out the final 4 spots

Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington told a group of local reporters at one of the club’s Winter Caravan events in Arlington on Thursday that as his lineup stands now (a month before pitchers and catchers report to spring training), Lance Berkman will bat third in the lineup, taking the spot that once belonged to Josh Hamilton.

Washington said the rest of the lineup wouldn’t change, meaning Ian Kinsler will continue to lead off with Elvis Andrus in the two-hole. Adrian Beltre would bat cleanup, a spot he’s used to, as well, and Washington said Nelson Cruz is penciled in fifth.

Some thoughts:

  • This once again puts Kinsler at the top of the order. And he’s critical in that spot for this offense. He has to be the sparkplug, and he wasn’t consistently in 2012. Kinsler has talked this offseason about improving his game and it appears he’ll be given the chance to do that in the leadoff spot. I'd like to see Andrus lead off (I think he could do it), but we'll see if Kinsler can re-establish more of the power and speed (and the patience that includes more walks) that he had in 2011.

  • Washington has always liked Andrus’ versatility in the two-hole, especially with Kinsler leading off. Both players have the speed once on base to put pressure on the opponent. Andrus can also bunt, and Washington trusts his ability to move runners over.

  • Berkman is the only left-handed hitter in the top five. He’s obviously not Hamilton, but he has a track record of production when healthy. He also has the big benefit of having Beltre protect him in the cleanup spot. It certainly didn’t hurt Hamilton.

    So what might the rest of the lineup look like? Here’s one version (assuming the top five stays the same):

    2B Kinsler

    SS Andrus

    DH Berkman (S)

    3B Beltre

    RF Cruz

    C A.J. Pierzynski (L)

    LF David Murphy (L)

    1B Mitch Moreland (L)

    CF Craig Gentry/Leonys Martin

    I’d be tempted to put Pierzynski fifth and Cruz sixth, which would break up the lefties at the bottom of the order. But either way, you’ve got some power there in the five- and six-hole. You could also flip the CF spot with Moreland, but I like the speed at the bottom of the order as the order goes back to Kinsler and Andrus. Lots of speed there to create some things. Martin and Gentry would platoon depending on if a lefty or righty was on the mound.

    Ok. Your turn. What's your lineup and why? Do one with Washington's first five and then you can do one with your own, if you choose.