With all the injuries suffered by the Rays this season, Joe Maddon has played match-up both offensively and defensively even more than he would probably like. And so far this season, he is not doing a very good job.
Here’s a look at how well the Rays batters are hitting based on where they hit in the lineup, as compared to the American League average…
OK, we all know the Rays are a below-average offensive team. That’s not news. But notice where the Rays have struggled and where they have excelled.
The best hitters, on average are batting fifth and seventh. And clean-up batters are only hitting better than those that bat ninth. In fact, the seventh-place hitters have an OPS that is 120 points higher than those batting fourth.
Of course, every batter must hit. And it has been shown that actual batting order makes only a little difference in runs scored over the course of a season. But for a team that values every lit edge they can find, and struggles as much at the plate as the Rays do, it is not good that the bottom of the order has been more productive.
And it is not one overachieving batter either. Fifteen different players have batted seventh for the Rays this season.
Simply put, Maddon is not getting the right guys in the right spots in the lineup.