Cornell Baseball vs. The Pros: Linking the Lineups

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Updated: March 17, 2017

One of the most important parts of a baseball team is the top of the lineup and how well they link to the heart of the order. The number one, two, and three guys are there to get on base and allow the power hitters and big bats in the lineup to wreck havoc in the box score. These guys are crucial to any team’s success. Just as it is the job of the first three hitters to get on base, it is the job of the guys behind them to drive them in.

Cornell recently took two of three games against George Mason, continuing its strong start to the season. In the first game on March 10th, the top of the lineup was key. The first three batters combined for four hits and scored the majority of the Big Red’s runs with four, which would have even been enough to win the game on their own. However, getting on base is only part of the two-sided sword. The middle of the lineup was able to hold up its end of the bargain, with the four and five hitters combining for three RBIs. This was a key part of Cornell’s first victory over the Patriots.

In the second game on March 11th, the top of the lineup logged another solid performance, combining for five hits and one walk. But, in this game, the middle of the lineup was stifled, with the four and five hitters driving in no one. In contrast, the top of the lineup for George Mason combined for six hits and five walks. The center of the Patriot lineup did its job, earning seven of the team’s 11 RBIs.

This trend is similar, but not identical, in the MLB. Although it is only spring training, many professional baseball teams are starting to solidify their lineups, and everyday the lineup looks more and more like what it will be on opening day. However, in the pros last weekend, the middle of lineup was key. The best illustration of this concept was the game between the Cincinnati Reds and the San Francisco Giants.

In this matchup, the top of the lineup for the Reds did an excellent job, getting on base six times. Then, the middle did its job, driving in three runs. However, the Reds lost the game. Even though the one, two, and three hitters for San Francisco got on base five times, four of those being walks, the middle of the Giants’ lineup drove in a total of six runs, sparking the 9-7 win for San Francisco. While the top of the lineup is still important in the MLB, the middle of the lineup is what makes the difference.

What might account for this difference? It is probably the ability for teams to go deep. In the majors, you might expect to see a few home runs per game. However, in the college game, home runs are a lot less frequent. For example, in the one game mentioned above, there were five home runs. If a team can hit at least two home runs per game, it does not need to get on base as often. But, in the two college games last weekend, there was only one homer in each matchup.

While the top of the lineup is important for both the MLB and college game, the ability to hit homers is what changes the style that coaches might employ when choosing the top of their lineup.

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