One home run, 11 RBI, .195 batting average, .286 slugging percentage.
If the above screams ‘clean-up hitter’ you may be thinking of the wrong sport. Be that as it may, Bud Black is turning to just such a stat line in a search of the proper line-up to get the Padres’ offense out of the doldrums.
Yonder Alonso, as MLB.com’s Scott Miller points out, made his sixth appearance as the clean-up hitter Wednesday night for the Padres. Black made the move, despite Alonso being the owner of the stat line leading off this piece. On the surface, and perhaps below it as well, the move smacks of grasping at straws and trying to force Alonso into becoming the big bat the organization wants him to be.
Over the course of his career, only two of Alonso’s 21 home runs have come out of the four spot in the line-up. His lone long ball this year occurred on 5/15 when he was batting 8th. As for run production, the bulk of his RBI have come out of the number five spot in the order, to the tune of 37% over the course of his career.
In the above article, Black states he is looking for the right combinations in the middle of the order, pointing at Seth Smith as the only Padre to seize the opportunity at all. Alonso could just be the next one of the “two, three and four” guys Black hopes can make a difference.
There is perhaps another, admittedly less plausible, possibility. Maybe Black is simply trying to make a point.
A manager can only run out the pieces he is provided, and perhaps Black has decided running out a clean-up hitter living below Ramiro Mendoza’s ignominious line may be the best way to showcase his overwhelming need for a competent bat. Not to mention the move serves to hint just how short he is running on lipstick to dress up an offense averaging a shade over three runs per game and hitting .222.