Projecting the optimal Pittsburgh Pirates batting order

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Mar 9, 2015; Bradenton, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Neil Walker (18) hits a RBI double during the first inning of a spring training baseball game at McKechnie Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Frazee‘s order looks like this:

"1. Josh Harrison 2. Jordy Mercer 3. Andrew McCutchen 4. Neil Walker 5. Pedro Alvarez 6. Starling Marte 7. Gregory Polanco 8. Francisco Cervelli"

Justin’s take:  Jhay is obviously the best lead-off hitter option for the Pirates.  Remember when McCutchen had to lead off because of our dearth of options?  Those days are long-gone, thankfully.  Mercer has historically performed well in the two-spot, and I think the competition with Kang will drive him this year.  Do I really need to explain McCutchen?  For the cleanup sport, I think it’s Neil Walker’s to lose.  If he builds on his career year, this could be great protection for Cutch.  Walker has earned this spot.  It’s time for Alvarez to put up or get dfa’d or traded. His bat needs to come out early and often. We know he will strike out once or twice per game but he needs to limit the Ks and put balls in play. We also know when he puts balls in play he has success as his career BABIP is .295 while his career avg is just .235.

Marte has hit well at number six.  To keep the pressure off, I’d like to see Polanco in at seven, possibly switching with Mercer should Jordy struggle.  Cervelli at eight is his starting point but potential to move up in order if he performs well.  Needs to stay healthy as the most games he’s played in a season was 93 back in 2010.  He is another player that may thrive outside of the NYC spotlight but pirates fans will have him under a microscope as he attempts the impossible, replacing Russell Martin.

Tyler Waite‘s order looks thusly:

"1) Polanco 2) Harrison 3) McCutchen 4) Alvarez 5) Marte 6) Walker 7) Mercer 8) Cervelli 9) Pitcher"

Tyler explains:  To me, there are only 2 locks for the Pirates’ lineup in 2015: the pitcher spot and McCutchen, who will continue to bat 3rd. That leaves 7 spots to optimize a potentially potent offense. Cervelli is somewhat of a question mark, and although Mercer can make a claim for the 2nd spot, I feel that there are other, deadlier hitters on the team that can contribute more ahead of them in the lineup. A huge difference maker will be the cleanup spot: I see Walker and Alvarez primarily in contention for that place, yet Alvarez has to be given one more shot at it, given that the team has already put its support behind his move to 1st base and is hoping for a 2013 version of “The Bull.” Walker and Marte are more power-driven hitters than Harrison and Polanco, and would best serve the team by batting later in the lineup. Polanco should be given another chance to leadoff, and Harrison’s speed would complement his at the top of the order. This team could very well help pace the National League in runs once again in 2015.

Next, the Rum Bunter editorial staff weighs in.

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