The Rangers’ Nelson Cruz has been batting seventh during the ALCS; he had one of the best LCS in history, becoming the first player to hit six home runs in a postseason series. That led to a lot of comments about him batting “that low”, as if batting order really matters after the first time through.
Cruz hit seventh just eight times during the regular season and hit a small-sample-size (35 PA) .382/.371/.676 (yes, an OBP lower than his BA; a sac fly and no walks will do that).
Next to that, Cruz hit best batting sixth during the season (238 PA, .277/.324/.614), and that’s just where manager Ron Washington has him for Game 1:
1. Ian Kinsler – R – 2B
2. Elvis Andrus – R – SS
3. Josh Hamilton – L – CF
4. Michael Young – R – 1B
5. Adrian Beltre – R – 3B
6. Nelson Cruz – R – RF
7. Mike Napoli – R – C
8. David Murphy – L – LF
9. C.J. Wilson – L – P
Someone had to move down so Cruz could move up, and that’s catcher Mike Napoli. Napoli hit virtually the same during the regular season batting sixth (1.084 OPS), seventh (1.032 OPS) or eighth (1.224 OPS), so it likely won’t matter to him.
As a NL fan, I’m always interested in how AL pitchers fare at the plate. C.J. Wilson, who was primariliy a reliever until 2010, doesn’t have much sample size: eight career at-bats. But he did hit a triple this year (in four at-bats), so maybe he’s figuring out that batting thing.