For the first 55 games of the season, they rolled with Vernon Wells in the number four slot. Then for the next 34 games, Scott Rolen settled in very nicely before he was shipped off to the Cincinnati Reds. But since then, the team has struggled to find success with one of the most crucial parts of the lineup card.
Earlier this month, Cito Gaston spoke on how he would like to move Aaron Hill down in the lineup for next year and leave Adam Lind in the cleanup spot permanently. Lind on the other hand, said he does not feel comfortable hitting in the number four spot for whatever reason. So the search for a cleanup hitter continues.
Maybe before we make a final decision on who should be stuck in the four spot, we should take a look at who hits best in that position. Here is a quick look at who has the best numbers batting fourth:
Although Adam Lind is the golden boy of the future, his OBP has something left to be desired. Lyle Overbay tends to draw a few more walks, but that means he also strikes out looking a lot more often. As critical as we have been of Vernon Wells this year, his numbers in the cleanup spot are actually not all that bad.
Moving forward, I wouldn't completely decide who should be the cleanup hitter on batting average or OPS alone. Marco Scutaro and Aaron Hill are great on getting on base, so another category that bares a lot of weight is how they bat with runners in scoring position. Technically, who has the best RISP on the team? The answer might surprise you:
Not that Joe Inglett or John McDonald would ever hit in the top half of the lineup, but you can't ignore their knack to drive in runs when it counts most. Throw out those two as anomalies, and Lind and Hill are left as the best options. Really it's a question of whether it's going to be Adam Lind or Aaron Hill in the lineup spot.
Statistically, Adam Lind is the best guy to pencil in as the number four hitter. Lind may have commented how he's not exactly thrilled about hitting there, so hopefully if the coaches work with him a little more in spring training then he can be mentally prepared for that job going into 2010.
Really, he's the best guy for the job unless there is a slight chance that King Carlos might be returning to his throne in the cleanup spot.