Is Michael Conforto a good #3 hitter?

conforto3

Like usual, Mets fans were worried about something. This month, it was the offense, and to an extent rightfully so. The Mets offense has never been rock solid, and this year is no exception.

The number three hitter has always been considered the “best hitter on the team”, and to start the season, Yoenis Cespedes was the number three hitter, and he struggled, which triggered the Mets to shake up their lineup. Michael Conforto  was quickly inserted into the three hole and he produced. While many, like Keith Hernandez and Pedro Martinez, believe that Conforto is a great three hole hitter, however, many argue that Conforto is not the team’s best hitter. That’s probably true, Duda, Cespedes and maybe even Granderson would give him a run for his money if we had to name the Mets best hitter, but does that matter? Does the number three hitter have to best the best hitter on the team?

It’s interesting. According to The Motley Fool a variety blog,

The average MLB team used more than 100 different batting orders throughout the season. The upper two-thirds of a typical batting order is reserved for everyday players, and only changes significantly if the injury bug strikes. In many cases, a team’s most accomplished players stay put for an entire season, or close to it.

For example, former MVP Joey Votto hit third for the Cincinnati Reds in 161 games last season. Dustin Pedroia, who also has an MVP trophy and four All-Star appearances, was in the Boston Red Sox’s number three hole for most of 2013. The same goes for Miguel Cabrera, who almost always hit third for the Detroit Tigers last year, or Prince Fielder, who hit behind Cabrera’s spot in 158 of the 162 games he played.

So, typically the best hitter is in the number three slot, but if the best hitter isn’t in the three slot, does it hurt the team? Let’s see what the Motley Fool thinks:

Although this seems to contradict the first table, remember the purpose of a number 4 hitter: to drive in runs. This spot usually receives more RBI opportunities than others in the batting order, and because many “old-school” analysts remain partial to the statistic, RBIs do correlate with contract size.

Through last year, baseball’s 10 highest-paid players had 10 league RBI crowns between them. Since 2000, nearly every RBI champion has been a big-contract player, except for Preston Wilson in 2003, and Chris Davis and Paul Goldschmidt this past season (both Davis and Goldschmidt should be paid handsomely in the future).

Financials are an interesting look at it too, the highest paid player (which sometimes correlates with the team’s best hitter) is actually in the number four slot, or the cleanup spot. However, this to has many flaws. Money cannot completely determine a players abilities. Most contracts are set in place years prior, and cannot decrease if the player underperforms. Additionally, the stereotypical cleanup hitter is the older veteran who makes a considerable amount of money, but isn’t much of a consistent hitter anymore.

If you are interested, here is the graph: Courtesy of TheMotleyFool.com

Lineup Spot Annual Salary in Millions
1 $5.0
2 $6.6
3 $8.5
4 $9.3
5 $6.2
6 $3.1

Anyway, I’m not completely sure what I’m trying to prove, I guess it’s that performance should dictate where you are in the lineup, and that is what Collins is doing, and it’s smart.

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