Projecting the optimal Pittsburgh Pirates batting order

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Mar 9, 2015; Bradenton, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco (25) stands at the plate during the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Minnesota Twins at McKechnie Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Rum Bunter founder Tom Smith took an entirely different approach.  In Smitty’s words:

"We aren’t under the belief that lineup optimization is a life or death thing.  But since Jason’s post idea was better than shoveling snow, we messed around with a lineup optimizer, added splits, tossed in some ground-ball percentages, and after all of it–surprise! 1. Andrew McCutchen 2. Neil Walker 3. Starling Marte 4. Josh Harrison 5. Francisco Cervelli 6. Pedro Alvarez 7. Jordy Mercer 8. Pitcher 9. Gregory Polanco"

He continues:  Surprise! The optimizer kept telling us the Pirates need to hit their pitchers eighth. God, the Pirates pitchers suck at hitting. But, wow were surprised and interested when we saw Polanco as the player in the nine spot.

Seeing Polanco hit in front of McCutchen will happen eventually, so why not in 2015? This lineup would drive some old school Pittsburghers insane which is always cool with me. Pencil it in Clint!

This is so crazy it’s brilliant and it just might work.  But for me, I’m more of a traditionalist and here’s how I see the batting order shaping out:

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

I asked myself what my thoughts were in putting my order together and here’s what I said to myself:  There are no better leadoff options on this team than Harrison.  I would like to see Jhay take a few more walks last year, as he preferred to make contact, and his high .BABIP kept his numbers on that career trajectory.  Any Rum Bunter reader who has been with us for even a short while knows I have beaten the drum of Marte batting sixth, but after more thought, I’m giddy at the thought of Marte’s speed right in front of Cutch.  I chose Alvarez over Walker as my cleanup because I think he deserves an honest shot there at least to start the season.  Walker being a switch hitter at five could cause matchup problems.  The rest of the lineup is pretty clockwork, but I like Polanco above Mercer to give the youngster more RBI chances.  Cervelli and Mercer could easily flip depending on whose bat is hot.

Next, we’ll round out our staff predictions before we delve into reader thoughts.

Next: Tuna and Jon turn in their lineups