Batting Order Strategy In Baseball: Batting Line-Up Explained (2024)

Learn how to put your best hitters in the best spots in the batting order.

Mastering the batting order in baseball is a blend of art and science, determining the flow and potential success of a game. This post will explore strategies behind the lineup, revealing how positions in the batting order can influence the game’s outcome.

KEY
POINTS

  • Coaches must determine their players’ strengths and weaknesses before constructing batting lineups.
  • The best hitters on a team usually follow each other in the batting order to increase the odds of having runners on base.
  • The leadoff hitter sets the tone for the batting order and should excel at hitting and stealing bases. The objective of the leadoff hitter is to reach base via a hit or walk.
  • The 2-spot hitter should be a player who consistently makes contact with ball and does not strike out much; while 3 hole is usually reserved for your best hitter.
  • Cleanup hits fourth and should be your best power hitter; 5 position is responsible for driving in any baserunners that cleanup failed to bring home; 6 & 7 spots can pose challenge for youth coaches unless they are coaching an All-Star squad .

In this article...

The batting order

A good batting order is determined by the talent on your team and is often the difference between winning and losing. Before constructing their batting lineups, coaches must know their players’ strengths and weaknesses.

However, the best hitters on a team follow each other in the batting order to increase the odds of having runners on base when good hitters step into the batter’s box.

Leadoff

The leadoff hitter or first batter sets the tone for the batting order and should excel at hitting and stealing bases. The objective of the leadoff hitter is to reach base via a hit or walk. Players with speed and a sound awareness of the strike zone are tailored-made for the leadoff spot.

2 spot

The 2-spot hitter should be a player who consistently makes contact with the ball and does not strike out much. The goal of the second hitter is to reach base safely while helping the leadoff hitter advance to the next base. Players who bat second should also be adept at executing hit-and-run plays and sacrifice bunts.

3 hole

The three-hole is usually reserved for your best hitter. The player in this slot should have a high batting average and some “pop” in his bat. The third hitter should be someone who regularly delivers extra-base hits since he is responsible for driving home any runners on the base paths.

Cleanup

The cleanup hitter bats fourth and should be your best power hitter. The batter in the cleanup position is someone who has a knack for hitting the ball hard. The job of the fourth hitter is to collect RBIs by driving in the first three batters when they reach base.

5 position

The five position or fifth batter is responsible for driving in any baserunners that the cleanup hitter failed to bring home. The player who occupies this spot should not strike out often and be able to crank out extra-base hits consistently.

Spots 6 & 7

The 6 and 7 spots can pose a challenge for youth coaches unless they are coaching an All-Star squad. The batter in the sixth spot should be someone who makes good contact at the plate. The seventh hitter is usually good at bunting and primarily hits singles.

Batting 8

The eighth batting spot is perfect for young players still developing their hitting fundamentals. The eighth hitter is often a player with good potential who does not yet understand the fundamentals of hitting and strikes out too much.

9 player

The nine spot is usually reserved for a player who is good with the glove but is one of the worst hitters on the team. The ninth hitter should be a good bunter who runs well.

​Best-hitting lineups In MLB History

A hard-hitting batting order that puts fear into opposing pitchers is a joy to watch for baseball fans. Here are some of the best-hitting lineups in major league history.

1927 Yankees

Arguably the most potent batting order of all time, the “Murderers Row” boasted Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. The team had five hitters who batted over .300 and four players who tallied more than 100 RBIs. Ruth, Gehrig, Earle Combs, and Tony Lazzeri were each inducted into the Hall of Fame.

1953 Brooklyn Dodgers

The Dodgers lost to the Yankees in the 1953 World Series but still boasted one of the best batting lineups in big league history. Five players hit over .300, and three sluggers posted more than 100 RBIs. A trio of power hitters – Duke Snider (42), Roy Campanella (41), and Gil Hodges (31) – combined for 114 home runs.

1929 Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies had a powerhouse lineup but a subpar pitching staff and finished fifth in the National League with a 71-82 record. The batting order featured six hitters who batted over .300, and four players had more than 100 RBIs. Chuck Klein (43), Lefty O’Doul (32), and Don Hurst (31) each joined the prestigious 30-home-run club.

1976 Cincinnati Reds

The “Big Red Machine” trotted out one of the best batting lineups of all time in 1976 and swept the New York Yankees in the World Series. The Reds had five players hit over .300, while George Foster (121) and Joe Morgan (111) combined for 232 RBIs. Morgan, Johnny Bench, and Tony Perez were inducted into the Hall of Fame.

1999 Texas Rangers

The Rangers featured a stout batting order, but a lack of quality pitching helped the New York Yankees eliminate Texas in the first round of the playoffs. Four players hit over .300 and four Texas hitters collected more than 100 RBIs. Rafael Palmeiro (47), Juan Gonzalez (39), and Ivan Rodriguez (35) combined for 121 long balls.

Best batting order according to sabermetrics

  1. The player with the highest On Base Percentage
  2. A player with a high On Base Percentage and the highest wRC+ on the team
  3. Player with high wRC+ and a solid, all-around hitter
  4. A player who hits for power with a very high Slugging percentage, HR, and ISO.
  5. A power hitter with a high wRC+ and Slugging percentage
  6. Player with high On Base Percentage and Stolen Bases
  7. A player that is an average overall hitter
  8. A player that is an average overall hitter
  9. The player who is the worst hitter on the team

FAQ

Where should your best hitter be in the lineup?

The best hitter in the lineup should bat in the third spot.

Which batter gets the most at-bats?

A: The batter that gets the most at-bats is the leadoff hitter.

What does your spot in the batting order say about you?

Your batting spot indicates whether you are a good or weak hitter.

What is the most important position in the batting order?

The cleanup hitter is the most important position in the batting order.

How to Bat Your Team to Victory

Batting order strategy will always be determined by the skill levels of the players on your team. It is a common practice for coaches to group their best hitters at the beginning of the lineup to maximize their scoring opportunities.

An effective batting order mixes up left-handed and right-handed batters and always places a competent hitter behind your best hitter to persuade teams not to walk him.

Batting Order Strategy In Baseball: Batting Line-Up Explained (2024)
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