How to Make a Batting Order

I recently received an e-mail on how to make a batting order for their team.

Here's my response:

The batting order is always determined by your talent and your coaching philosophy, but generally through the years and if you were gifted with perfect talent in all of these spots, this is how it would look.

1. Best on base batter, generally fastest as well, so could be your best slapper (this was for a fastpitch softball team, so for baseball or slo-pitch softball, this would be your best on-base percentage person).

2. Best at moving the lead off runner over. Typically your best bunter. (For fastpitch softball - Also a spot for the 2nd best slapper.) (For slo-pitch, this would be your best at moving runners over by hitting behind the runner or through holes on the right side.)

3. Best overall hitter.

4. Best power hitter.

5. 2nd best power hitter.

6. A lead off type hitter.

7. A number 2 type of hitter or someone in a slump that needs to rebuild their confidence.

8. Could be the weakest hitter or another spot to put someone that needs building confidence.

9. Traditionally has been the weakest batter in the batting order (i.e. good defensive player but not a great hitter), but you want someone who's not too slow to avoid slowing up the people following them in the batting order (the top of the order where you have your fastest runners). (For fastpitch - 3rd best slapper (if you have that many)).

Hope this helps.

Coach Andy

That's been the traditional wisdom throughout the years. It doesn't vary much from what I was taught by coach Bob Hiegert who taught my college class in "The Theory of Baseball Coaching" (Hey, someone has to take those classes). He won 2 national titles and played in the minor leagues, so this is what the baseball folks feel is best.

What you may want to do is follow what the statisticians say actually works.

Here's a great article on constructing a batting order written by Dave Studeman for the Hardball Times where he finds things mostly from a new book called "The Book" like ~

"Your three best hitters should bat somewhere in the #1, #2 and #4 slots. Your fourth- and fifth-best hitters should occupy the #3 and #5 slots. The #1 and #2 slots will have players with more walks than those in the #4 and #5 slots. From slot #6 through #9, put the players in descending order of quality.

Perhaps the most important thing The Book tells us is that we should put our stereotypes of leadoff and #2 hitters aside.

First, the guys in the first two slots bat most often during the year; why waste those appearances on below- average hitters, or even average ones?

You can put your pitcher in the eighth slot and gain a couple of extra runs per year."

Again, for the full analysis of building a batting order according to statistical analysis check out this fine article.

Either way, I feel this will put to rest the theory of batting through the lineup with strong and weak batters interspersed.

One way or the other the most runs are created at the top of the order where the batters come up more often. So you will be better served with a feast or famine order rather than some activity every inning but no runs getting knocked in.

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