Projecting the optimal Pittsburgh Pirates batting order

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Mar 3, 2015; Dunedin, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder Starling Marte (6) hits and reaches base on an error during the first inning of the spring training baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Florida Auto Exchange Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Tuna agrees with me on Marte.  Here’s his lineup:

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

His reasoning?  

Harrison in the leadoff for no other reason aside from the fact that Marte struggled in that spot last year. I think Marte would be a more effective lead off man because of his speed and OBP. Despite Marte’s early struggles he ended up with a higher OBP% than Harrison. He stole 30 bases as opposed to Harrison’s 18. Surprisingly though, they both have similar caught stealing % (36/39). I’d look for Harrison to be aggressive on the bases this year and embrace the leadoff spot. For some reason Marte just couldn’t get it together batting first. And having Cutch bat 3rd will give him some better pitches to swing at. Cutch 3 because he’s Cutch. Alvarez gets the cleanup until he swings his way out of it. Walker is a solid 5. Good OBP, Ave, and has some pop. Polanco will most likely move up in the lineup at some point in the season, but to take the pressure off him, he bats 6th. Mercer is an underrated hitter who had he not started out extremely slow in April his BA would have been much higher than .255. He’s a .270-275 hitter. Cervelli with his no batting gloves goes 8th.

What really becomes interested in when Kang is inserted into the lineup, what the order looks like then. Either way, man is our team awesome.

Jon Anderson is known around these parts for his unique takes.  Here’s another:

"1. Josh Harrison, 3B 2. Starling Marte, LF 3. Andrew McCutchen, CF 4. Pedro Alvarez, 1B 5. Neil Walker, 2B 6. Gregory Polanco, RF 7. Jordy Mercer, SS 8. Francisco Cervelli, C"

He writes: Please note that my lineups are dependent on if Jeong-ho Kang proves to be a useful big league hitter. If he does show comfort against big league pitching, you’re going to see him in the lineup a lot, and in my opinion you should see him in the middle of the lineup because of his power potential. I’m also all about Pedro Alvarez hitting clean-up against righties. Pedro has been a pretty consistent home run threat in his time in the majors, despite hitting for very low average and striking out a ton. With all the talent around him, you can afford that low average and high strikeout rate as long as he’s hitting homers at his usual clip. There should be a lot of men on base for him this year, and all it takes is one swing to win a game for the team sometimes.

I’m also not sold on Gregory Polanco. He showed a lot of holes in his swing last year and I think he has a lot more growing up to do that isn’t going to happen right away. He’ll show flashes and have hot streaks, but I don’t think he’s solid enough to be relied on as a middle of the order bat yet.

This team doesn’t have a prototypical leadoff hitter. Starling Marte and Josh Harrison are the only ones in consideration and neither of them walk or see a lot of pitches. i gave the edge to Harrison here just because Marte strikes out way more than J-Hay and has more power, so you’d rather have him at the dish with men on base. I won’t be surprised if Harrison disappoints at the plate this year and has to drop down towards the bottom of the lineup. At that point you’d hope that Kang and/or Polanco has been hitting well so you can slide one of them up into a power spot and maybe move Neil Walker into the two spot.

Seems to me that the Pirates are going to use a ton of different lineups this year, it’ll be interesting to see what Hurdle comes up with.

So these are our ideas for the optimal batting order for the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Before we get to our readers’ picks, here’s the consensus batting order from  us, followed by the number of votes for that player in that position:

1 – Harrison (4)
2 – Marte (3)
3-  McCutchen (5)
4 – Alvarez (5)
5 – Walker (3)
6 – Polanco (3)
7 – Mercer (4)
8 – Cervelli (3)

A pretty solid lineup if you ask me.  Looking at the votes here and reading everyone’s reasoning, it’s clear that the only real surprise is Alvarez getting such support for the cleanup spot.  I agree that I think he can excel there with the right mindset and approach.  We will  absolutely live with the Ks and .240 average if he can be a run producer akin to his 2013 levels.

Now, it’s time for the best readers in the business to weigh in.

Next: Readers share their lineups