In his infinite heartburn, Angels manager Mike Scioscia has moved the best leadoff batter in all of baseball to the number two position in the lineup. Mike Trout is batting second for the Angels as their 4-9 record circles the early season drain toward the bottom of baseball's standings.
A $160 Million payroll is highlighted by by #3 and #4 hitters Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. The logic of batting Trout second is to get him on base ahead of these RBI machines.
There are a few problems with this logic. When Pujols is up to bat, all runners freeze on base - the simple logic being why potentially give up an out on the bases when a great hitter is at the plate, ready to drive you in. Trout is an extraordinary base stealer and an aggressive base runner, but there he was on Monday, holding up on the basepaths at 2B instead of stretching a deep gapper into a triple - all because of the logic that Albert was coming up to bat. So not only is Pujols slow on the basepaths with plantar fascitis in his foot, he slows others down by the logic that he can drive them all in.
If this basepath-logic continues to be the case, Pujols needs to be separated from Trout in the lineup.
Some arguments point out that a leadoff batter only really bats lead off one time, at the beginning of the game. The vagaries of who leads off subsequent innings pretty much gives a leadoff batter a one in nine chance to appear at the top of an inning. Regardless of this fact, to have a great On-Base Perentage batter and baserunning speedster like Trout is still completely justified. Just to get the game started with a baserunner increases the chances of getting to a pitcher early.
A big first inning lead is always a boost to the starting pitcher of the team scoring, let alone a bane to the team giving up the runs as it portends a quicker finish to the starter... a big first inning can mean getting to the bullpen in the fifth inning instead of the seventh. Most pitchers, even many aces, use the first inning to gain control of their "stuff".
Settling in should never be a comfortable task and the Angels only game-upsetting player the Angels can put out there is Trout. To have him up in the game at the start is to taunt the starting pitcher that there is no easy rhythm to be established. Dear opposing starter, a tough out at the plate is about to translate into a tough out on the basepaths and the big bats will soon be examining your stuff but you will be distracted in all of this because of Trout.
All of this is so much different than Trout up to bat in the first inning with one out.
Mike Scioscia's justification of batting Trout second is to get him closer to Pujols and Josh Hamilton in the order. The logic of this is hardly a counterweight to Trout's amazing 2012 season along with all of the arguments listed above, but going with that logic, would a better solution be to simply bat Josh Hamilton second? In between Trout and Pujols Hamilton would see more fastballs - his bread and butter - and, as a lefty bat, would also be a break in the continuity of back to back right handers. With Trout on base and Pujols on deck Hamilton would have the kind of season that Torii Hunter had last year - a fastball hitter being thrown fastballs by nervous pitchers.
Mike Scioscia has batted Trout in the number two position for the stupidest reason and keeps him there with the weakest argument. Enough is enough - the best leadoff hitter in baseball should bat leadoff.