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I've heard analyst say that a player has been under performing as a batter in the heart of the order many times, or that a bottom of the line up batter has been doing well for its position as of recent.

This makes me believe that each batter in the line up has a specific role. Or at least there are certain league-wide expectations for each position. From what I have noticed, it seems that the heavy hitters are usually in the middle of the order. Also it's obvious that the lead off batter should have high on base percentage (OBP) to increase chances of scoring more runs.

Having said all of that, what are the general characteristics of each batter in the line up?

  • It can depend on who you ask. Some teams are starting to go with a more "sabermetric" form of setting their lineup, and some teams stay with the "old" way. – New-To-IT Aug 8 '17 at 16:37
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Traditional

1 - High OBP/Speed

  • This guy should have a high chance of getting on base. You want to get your guys on base so the later hitters have a chance to drive in runs.

2 - Contact/Bunt

  • This guy should have good contact numbers, or be able to bunt. The point of this guy is to get your leadoff hitter into scoring position (2nd and 3rd base), whether it be by bunting him over or getting a base hit.

3 - All Around

  • This guy should posses power, or at least high contact rate. This person should be the guy who gets your leadoff guy home. Generally has some power, maybe 20-25 home run potential.

4 - Power

  • This guy is usually your big hitter. They call this the "cleanup" hitter. In a sense so he can "clean up" the bases.

5 - Power/OBP

  • This guy is generally your next biggest hitter, more power than the normal guys, set to protect the clean up hitter in the order. He should also posses some kind of OBP as to get on base, kind of start the order over.

6 - RBI Guy

  • This guy, as with the 5th hitter, is there to protect the guys in front of him, and drive in runs.

7/8/9 - Fielders

  • In the AL, where you have the DH, these guys would be the guys who aren't really great at hitting, they're mostly in the lineup for their defensive prowess. They can be good hitters, guys to get on base, or have some power, but generally teams keep their lesser hitters in the bottom. In the NL, the 9th slot is generally used for the pitcher.

Sabermetrics

1 - High OBP

  • This guy needs to have high OBP, speed or not. This guy is simply meant to get on base so there will be someone to drive in.

2 - Contact

  • One of your best hitters, usually high contact, and high OBP. This guy is meant to drive in runs. No more sacrificing, this guys intent is to score runs and limit outs.

3 - 5th Best Hitter

  • This guy would bat 5th in the traditional lineup, has some power, some contact, ability to drive in runs, and ability to help protect the #4.

4 - Power

  • This is your power hitter, as in the traditional lineup, you want this guy cleaning up the bases. You want this guy to hit your home runs, and score.

5 - 4th Best

  • This is your cleanup guy in the traditional lineup. This is the guy who also has power, also has the ability to drive in runs.

6/7 - 6th and 7th Best Hitters

  • These are the guys, as with the traditional lineup, who are usually only in the lineup for their defensive prowess.

8/9 - NL (Pitcher and 8th Best Hitter), AL (8th and 9th Best Hitter)

  • In the NL, with the new sabermetric lineup, the 8 slot is generally the pitcher and the 9 slot is for your worst hitter. Basically hoping they get on base for the leadoff guy to start driving in runs again.

Basically the advantage to this lineup is to stop trading outs for runs. This lineup is to maximize runs, and stop the thinking of "small ball", meaning bunting, getting base hits, etc. This is usually called the "optimized" lineup.

Note: This isn't meant to be a one size fits all lineup explanation. Each team has their own idea as to what makes things work for them. This is meant to simply be a general overview of how lineups are used in baseball. Some teams may make slight changes to this theory.

  • In the NL 8th spot is not always the pitcher, in fact pitchers are mostly 9th slot. 8th slot pitcher is a strategy seen by very few managers. Other than that the answer is great. Fix that and I'll accept the answer. – alamoot Aug 8 '17 at 19:05
  • This isn't meant to be a set ideology for every team. 8th slot pitcher is how it is done(a lot of the time) with the new sabermetric lineup. Traditional lineup, the pitcher will bat 9th. Every team has their own way of doing things, and not every single team will do it the same, but this is a general overview of each traditional and sabermetric lineups. – New-To-IT Aug 8 '17 at 19:07
  • I see what you mean now, makes sense – alamoot Aug 8 '17 at 19:19
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    Sabermetrics moved the best hitter into top 3 because those batters get many more ABs a year than the 4th thru 6th batters. You want to maximize your best hitters plate appearances. – jmh Aug 12 '17 at 1:50

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