Order of the day
At the very beginning of spring training camp, the "controversy" over where to
bat Albert Belle arose. Should he bat third, the traditional (and
sabermetrically correct) spot for the best hitter in the lineup (Presumably,
there's no controversy over the fact that Belle is the best hitter in the
lineup), or should he bat fourth, where sluggers traditionally bat and where
Belle has always batted? Ray Miller announced that no decision had been made,
but Belle made it obvious he'd rather remain in the cleanup spot. A day later,
Ray capitulated, and announced Belle would bat fourth.
Frankly, it always seemed like much ado about nothing to us. Third, fourth,
there just isn't that much difference; either way, he'll be batting in the heart
of the lineup behind runners who get on base a lot. So we're not objecting to
the decision. What we're objecting to is the fact that Ray Miller, once again,
abdicated his responsibility to run the team. Once again, he let the players
know who was in charge -- they were. It's just no way to run a team. We saw
what happened last year when Miller lost control of the team. And we saw the
same thing in 1995, when Phil Regan did.
On the other hand, maybe we shouldn't be so eager to have Miller make any
decisions. Because the first one he made demonstrated once again why the Orioles
will never win, no matter what their payroll, while Miller is manager. We're
speaking, of course, of Miller's decision to bat Mike Bordick second. While this
decision was originally a temporary response to Delino DeShields' injury, Miller
has since indicated that he plans to make this decision permanent. There are
just so many things wrong with this decision that we do not know where to
- The most important is that Mike Bordick is the worst hitter on the team.
(Although if Cal's back problems continue to plague him, Bordick might turn out
to be only the second worst.) By batting him second instead of ninth, Bordick is
going to receive approximately 125 extra plate appearances. Think about it -- is
there any batter in the lineup you would take an at bat away from to give to
Bordick? [Would you ever pinch hit for anybody with Mike Bordick?] Well, this
is taking 125 plate appearances away from seven batters to give them to Bordick.
- One of the justifications that Miller has given for this decision is that it
breaks up the lefties at the top of the lineup. Rather than having
Anderson-DeShields-Clark-Belle-Surhoff, which is 3 lefties in a row and 4 lefties
among the top five hitters, Ray Miller's lineup would look a lot more "balanced,"
with L-R-L-R-L. That's what The Book says you should do, after all. So what's
our complaint? Simple: Bordick's not a right-handed hitter! Oh, he stands on
the right side of the plate when he's batting, but he cannot hit left-handed
pitching. At all! His platoon splits are reversed, and they're extreme -- worse
than most left-handed batters.
Bordick's batting splits
Effectively, Mike Bordick is a left-handed batter. Opposing
managers will have no difficulty about bringing in a left-handed pitcher to face
Brady, and then leaving in the same pitcher to face Bordick and Clark. But what
really bothers us is the scary thought that RAY MILLER HAS NEVER LOOKED UP
- Finally, the argument is that Bordick is a good contact hitter. He bunts a
lot. He will advance runners. Well, yes, he makes a lot of contact -- whether
you'd call that a good contact hitter is another story. Is it good if one makes
contact and pops out? And yes, he bunts a lot. But so what? Other players who
bunt a lot include pitchers. There's a reason a player bunts a lot -- because he
can't hit! And why on earth would you bunt with your number two hitter, anyway?
If you want to advance Brady, let him steal second. Why waste the out
advancing him, when Clark and Belle can score him from first base? As for
Bordick's ability to advance runners -- what ability? For every 650 ABs,
DeShields will get about 25 extra walks (and thus 25 fewer outs) and 50 extra
bases. That's how you advance runners! Not by grounding out. DeShields can
ground out, too, but when he's not grounding out, he's going to be advancing more
runners and advancing them farther. (Indeed, Bordick advanced just two runners with
groundouts in 1998.)
In sum, if Ray Miller bats Mike Bordick second, he simply provides further
proof that he doesn't know what he is doing. There's no reasonable argument for
choosing Bordick over DeShields.
© 1998 The Orioles Warehouse
Pending credit approval.
Last Updated: April 10, 1999