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What’s in a batting order?
Lots of things go into how Cedar Rapids Kernels Manager Brian Dinkelman goes about deciding who plays and who hits where
CEDAR RAPIDS — What goes into putting together a batting order for a baseball game? More than you’d think.
Especially at the high-Class A minor-league level.
Individual development trumps winning games, though winning games is part of individual development. It’s a relatively fine line there.
Keep that in mind.
“It may not be your traditional batting order here,” Cedar Rapids Kernels Manager Brian Dinkelman said, after his team lost in 10 innings to Wisconsin, 4-2, Wednesday afternoon at Veterans Memorial Stadium. “It just depends on what players you have on your roster.”
The Kernels have a number of position players considered legit big-league prospects, and those guys will play almost every day. They’ll also tend to be in the top half of the order.
Dinkelman said he tries to get everyone on his roster in at least two games a week.
“You try to put your better hitters, your hottest hitters toward the top of the lineup,” Dinkelman said. “They’re going to get the most at-bats. Also, too, in minor league baseball, with development, some guys need more at-bats than other guys. So you try and get them toward the top, so they can get more at-bats and more experience, things like that.
“I think as an organization, we know who we want to get the most at-bats, and you go from there.”
However, he will not make players sacrificial lambs, so to speak. Matchups still do matter.
“Who has the best chance to have good at-bats against that (pitcher)?” Dinkelman said. “It’s whether we’re facing a righty or lefty, based on who we have on our roster at the time. You try and get the guys at the top who you think are going to give you the best at-bats, maybe put the ball in play and do some damage.”
Traditionally, the leadoff hitter in a lineup has speed and can steal a base, and your No. 2 hitter has the ability to put the ball in play regularly. Your No. 3 guy is your best overall hitter, with the most powerful guys following in the cleanup, five and six holes.
But stealing bases has taken a back seat in today’s game to home runs. Your best overall hitter generally bats second in the lineup.
It’s different than it used to be.
“When I was playing, your top two hitters were contact guys who maybe could run a little bit,” said Dinkelman, who played 27 games for the Minnesota Twins in 2011, before joining the organization as a coach. “And I still feel like we’ve got guys at the top here who can run and steal some bases, too. But, yeah, your first hitter was your traditional high on-base guy who put the ball in play. Your two-hole guy was usually another contact guy with good bat control, hit and run ability, stuff like that.
“Then your three-hole guy was your best hitter, your four, five and six were your power guys. Then you fill out the rest. Yeah, it has changed a little bit the last handful of years or whatever. But the bottom line is you want your best hitters to get the most at-bats, and that’s what we try to do.”
The Kernels (22-19) didn’t have much offense Wednesday, getting two hits, including a solo home run from Misael Urbina in the second inning, and then not another until Jeferson Morales’ RBI single in the 10th.
Wisconsin (13-27) put runners at the corners with one out in the top of the 10th, with a terrific jumping, lunging catch of a line drive up the middle by C.R. second baseman Jose Salas providing a second out and what appeared to be a rally killer. But Joe Gray Jr. then hit a three-run home run just onto the short porch in left field against losing relief pitcher Niklas Rimmel (3-1) to give the Timber Rattlers a 4-1 lead and the game.
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