Over the last two seasons, Michael Young regularly batted in the middle of the order for the Rangers. But with the Phillies, he’s likely to move back to the No. 2 hole, where he’s hit more than anywhere else in his career.
The Phillies’ offseason should be far from finished (could Josh Hamilton be coming to town?), and even Charlie Manuel recognizes whether or not the club makes a move for a corner outfielder will determine where his newest pieces fit in his lineup.
“I could sit there and go over lineups all I want to. But when it gets down to it, who we have on the corners in the outfield will dictate where our lineup falls,” Manuel told reporters, including the Philadelphia Inquirer's Matt Gelb, Monday at Citizens Bank Park.
But it’s still worth examining where the new guys could fit in now. Today, we’ll look at Michael Young. In Texas, the seven-time All-Star hit fifth or sixth in 80 percent of his starts last year, but over the course of his career, he’s batted second more than anywhere else — and that’s likely where Manuel will slot him.
Jimmy Rollins should lead off again, barring an unforeseen shift in Manuel’s philosophy on how best to use the shortstop. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, both left-handed bats, should regularly hit third and fourth again as well. Since 2010, Utley has hit in the No. 3 hole in 92 percent of the games he’s started, and Howard has batted nothing but cleanup over that span.
However, Young — a right-handed bat — could provoke Manuel to split up the lefty-lefty duo he’s been so reluctant to break up in the past. The third baseman has batted third often throughout his career, including 14 times last season and 30 times in 2011.
The more likely scenario, though, is to slot Young second between Rollins and Utley. He hits for average and doesn’t strike out often — he went down swinging just once every 9.3 plate appearances last year. But he also doesn’t generate a tremendous amount of power — his home run total has dipped in each of the past four seasons, to a career-low eight in 2012.
As the roster stands now, where would you hit Young?