San Diego Padres: The benefits and dangers of lineup shuffling
The San Diego Padres are experimenting with their lineup just days before the All-Star break, which has its benefits but raises concern.
As reported by Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune, the Padres have elected to move star first baseman Wil Myers to the leadoff spot in their lineup on Friday night. The change comes mostly as a result of the 2016 All-Star’s struggles this year, but has much larger implications.
As a result of moving Myers, outfielder Jose Pirela who was hitting leadoff for weeks before also needs to change roles. As a result of that, there is a domino effect in the lineup, moving everyone around and giving the club a much needed change of pace offensively.
But the question is, even if this change is beneficial in the short term, can it disturb the long term development of the Padres? Yes, Myers was struggling, and yes, moving him in the lineup can make a difference for him as an individual hitter. But it’s not like Myers is a conventional leadoff hitter, and the shuffling of the lineup has an impact on everybody else too, even players performing at a high level who in all likelihood don’t want to be disturbed.
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All things considered though, the timing to make a change is not bad. In the final series before the All-Star break, the Padres can experiment with the lineup the way it is, and then determine during the break whether or not to go forward with the new look. This shouldn’t disturb the club’s development if it doesn’t end up panning out, but still gives manager Andy Green and company a glimpse of the changes they’re implementing.
The debate over whether or not this is a good idea hinges on whether or not the changes would disturb any long term development. Most if not all fans would agree that at this point, winning is not the only factor to take into consideration. Even if changing up the lineup helps the club win in the meantime, if it isn’t the way the lineup will look long term, it’s a bad idea.
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Still, it must be taken into consideration that lineups are less and less conventional these days. Anthony Rizzo isn’t exactly cut out to be a leadoff hitter in Chicago, and Francisco Lindor spent most of 2016 hitting third before moving to the top spot in Cleveland this season. Similarly, who knows, Myers may be the sort of unconventional leadoff hitter that gets San Diego going. It would be foolish to assume that this is merely a short term change to try to get the face of the Padres’ franchise going offensively.
Another negative, of course, is that the Padres will need to find someone to fill the shoes of Myers as a third of fourth hitter in the order. But for now, the top of the lineup looks pretty impressive with Myers followed by emerging star outfielder Manuel Margot. Hopefully, the rest will take care of itself.
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A strong debut in the leadoff role to the tune of three hits on Friday night was followed up by an uneventful afternoon on Saturday, an 0-for-3 game with two strikeouts and a walk. The fact that San Diego won both contests with Myers in the leadoff spot is encouraging, and makes everybody feel better about the move. In reality though, it is much too early to make any judgement as far as whether or not this is a long term solution.