The Kansas City Royals batting lineup for 2014 seems better stacked than it was in 2013, but just how much better? With the addition of a true lead-off hitter in Norichika Aoki and the consistently decent offensive production from Omar Infante, the Royals seem poised to do some damage at the plate. However, the batting order will look a lot different late into September than it will on Opening Day 2014; I’ll tell you why.
Projected Opening Day 2014 KC Royals Lineup (via Rotochamp.com):
1. Norichika Aoki, RF
2. Omar Infante, 2B
3. Alex Gordon, LF
4. Billy Butler, DH
5. Eric Hosmer, 1B
6. Salvador Perez, C
7. Mike Moustakas, 3B
8. Lorenzo Cain, CF
9. Alcides Escobar, SS
Let me start off by saying that this is a great looking lineup, and if Ned Yost gets as much production out of this lineup as it seems the Royals should get from this particular order, then by all means the Royals should ride it out until it dies. That’s all batting orders really are; a ride of short-term production until a new combination needs to be found. This is the combination that I think will have the best chance of long-term success:
Dayton Moore went out and got Aoki this season for one reason: to bat lead-off. And he is a darn good lead-off hitter. In two full seasons in the Majors, Aoki has a career .355 OBP. He will remain in the lead-off role throughout the season.
Batting Second: Gordon-
Gordon has the ability to bat anywhere in the top five spots of the order, but will settle into batting second for no other reason except the fact that he’s capable of batting anywhere that the other players don’t fit as well.
Batting Third: Hosmer-
Hosmer will move back to the “3 hole” where he saw most of his success from 2013. His abilities fit the “3 hole” role better than Gordon’s.
No surprise here. This is really the only spot Billy’s capabilities allow him to hit. However, if someone other than Billy starts getting hot with the dingers, look for Billy to move to the fifth spot.
Batting 5th/6th: Moose/Salvy-
Moustakas will improve; there’s not really any other option. Look for Moose to take over the 5th spot by the All-Star Break – by which time he will have 13 HR’s. Until then, Salvy will do his thing and still bat fifth post-All-Star Break when Valencia starts.
Batting Seventh: Infante-
Infante is consistent. Exactly what you want to have leading-off the bottom third of your order. When it comes down to it, he just doesn’t have the potential to be a playmaker as much as the first six guys do.
Batting Eighth: Lorenzo Cain-
The Cain Train is very streaky. When he is on, he can be a deadly 8-hole hitter. But when he isn’t, well, he is still just the 8-hole hitter.
Batting Ninth: Alcides Escobar-
Let’s hope we get 2012 Alcides at the plate this year.
Batting orders are fluid, but that this order has the potential to stay hot the longest. Let’s hope we are seeing this lineup in October (or any lineup).