Gregory Polanco reportedly batting no higher than sixth to start 2015
Reported by Dejan Kovacevic at his excellent site dkonpittsburghsports.com, sources have told him that Gregory Polanco will bat low in the order, reportedly no higher than sixth. This is to keep El Coffee’s confidence up and relieve pressure early in the year.
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A lot has been said on these pages and others about the optimal lineup for the 2015 Pittsburgh Pirates. Over the course of the discussion, two spots in the lineup appeared to be rock-solid: Josh Harrison batting first, and Andrew McCutchen at third. Polanco penciled in to bat second seemed to be another lock based on popular opinion. I had previously noted that Starling Marte‘s numbers in the fifth or sixth spot in the order seemed to make him destined for one of those slots, thereby pushing Polanco back to the top third of the order. With this new information, this now appears to be in flux.
Initial reaction seems to indicate that this news would make Marte the number two hitter on opening day. As a refresher, Marte’s numbers in that spot were above average, highlighted by a slashline of .293/.375/.424. Marte also took eight of his 30 stolen bases from the second spot in the order. While moving Polanco down in the order may limit Marte’s RBI chances, it may open up a new dimension in the Pirates offense. With Josh Harrison getting on-base at a steady clip, and McCutchen providing world-class protection behind him, Marte figures to get great pitches to hit, and plenty of chances to run.
For Polanco, the news should not be that surprising. After a near-historic start to his major-league career in 2014, the wheels came off and Travis Snider eventually took his job. By finding a consistent, lower-pressure place in the order for Gregory Polanco to start 2015, Clint Hurdle is shrewdly doing his part to help the youngster avoid a similar fate this year.