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4 ways Blue Jays can configure their lineup with George Springer back

·MLB Writer
·5-min read

For the past few weeks, Toronto Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo has been faced with a litany of bullpen issues so dire he wouldn’t wish them on his worst enemy. On Tuesday he was finally faced with a problem he was happy to have.

George Springer’s long-awaited return to the Blue Jays creates a lineup construction quandary for a team whose top-four hitters have been outstanding in the star outfielder’s absence. Since Springer’s last appearance before hitting the IL again on May 2, Marcus Semien, Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Teoscar Hernandez have hit a collective .310/.370/.554 — prompting Montoyo’s move to hit Springer fifth on Tuesday.

That ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ mentality put the 31-year-old in an unfamiliar position, far removed from his customary leadoff spot.

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The idea of easing Springer lower in the lineup makes sense for now — especially considering how some of the other hitters are performing — but ultimately a guy signed to a franchise-record contract, who was among the top 10 hitters in the majors from 2019 to 2020 is going to move up. That means a shuffle is coming.

Here are a few looks Montoyo could try:

The ‘by the book’

The most traditional lineup structure involves putting the team’s best hitters in the three and four holes and having high-average hitters who can run in front of them. That’s actually not too dissimilar to what the Blue Jays have now as Semien and Bichette are the top two base stealing threats on the team at the top of the order, and Guerrero Jr. is hitting third.

With this model you just slide Springer into the cleanup spot seeing as he projects to be the team’s second-best hitter after Vladdy, and away you go:

2B - Marcus Semien

SS - Bo Bichette

1B - Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

CF - George Springer

LF - Teoscar Hernandez

RF - Randal Grichuk

3B - Cavan Biggio

DH - Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

C - Whoever is catching

Pros: The power is in the middle of the lineup and the speed is at the top. All of the concerns are ones the Blue Jays have been dealing with all season.

Cons: Bichette probably shouldn’t hit second, Guerrero Jr. gets put in too many ‘two out, none on’ situations hitting third.

George Springer's presence gives Charlie Montoyo several options for setting the Blue Jays' batting order. (Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports)
George Springer's presence gives Charlie Montoyo several options for setting the Blue Jays' batting order. (Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports)

The 'by The Book'

This lineup-building strategy emphasizes the second hole as the right spot for your best hitter, and makes the third hole slightly less important. If Guerrero Jr., Springer, and Semien are the team’s best offensive contributors, which is certainly up for some debate, this is theoretically the best way to deploy them with Springer hitting cleanup and Semien leading off thanks to the power discrepancy between them.

If you value Hernandez above Semien, he can hit cleanup while Springer leads off and Semien falls to the fifth spot.

2B - Marcus Semien

1B - Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

SS - Bo Bichette

CF - George Springer

LF - Teoscar Hernandez

RF - Randal Grichuk

3B - Cavan Biggio

DH - Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

C - Whoever is catching

Pros: This is probably the most sabermetrically sound configuration.

Cons: Your two most important hitters (Guerrero Jr. and Springer) are in spots they’re unaccustomed to and may be uncomfortable in. Vladdy in the two hole mitigates the speed threat at the top of the order.

‘Everyone moves down’

Confucius is often credited with saying “life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” Although that quotation is misattributed, it doesn’t lack wisdom. The easiest move for Montoyo to make would be to lead Springer off and push everyone else down.

CF - George Springer

2B - Marcus Semien

SS - Bo Bichette

1B - Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

LF - Teoscar Hernandez

RF - Randal Grichuk

3B - Cavan Biggio

DH - Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

C - Whoever is catching

Pros: Springer, Semien, and Guerrero Jr. are in the 1, 2, and 4 holes. Springer is hitting where he’s comfortable.

Cons: Semien probably isn’t the right guy for the all-important second spot.

‘The Original Plan’

This lineup is an approximation of what the Blue Jays did in Springer’s second game with the team (the first didn’t include Teoscar Hernandez). The idea here is that Springer is the leadoff man, and you don’t want to mess with Bichette-Guerrero Jr.-Hernandez, so Semien is the odd man out.

Based on Semien’s raw production this looks foolish, but his xBA of .240 and xSLG of .446 are way below his batting average of .279 and slugging of .519. If you believe that he’s going to drop off, this makes sense.

CF - George Springer

SS - Bo Bichette

1B - Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

LF - Teoscar Hernandez

2B - Marcus Semien

RF - Randal Grichuk

3B - Cavan Biggio

DH - Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

C - Whoever is catching

Pros: Springer is in the leadoff spot, underlying numbers do suggest that Semien might be heading for decline.

Cons: Same Bichette-Guerrero Jr. in the two-three holes that should probably be inverted. Semien’s strengths are better suited for setting the table than driving in runs, and there’s no guarantee he doesn’t continue at his current pace.

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