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Bob Lutz: Change in Royals’ batting order charged up offense

Kansas City Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar has helped provide a spark since moving into the leadoff spot in the batting order in mid-September.
Kansas City Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar has helped provide a spark since moving into the leadoff spot in the batting order in mid-September. Associated Press

Gee, it seems like every day now I’m giving Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost credit for something. It’s a strange position to be in, seeing as how I’ve been a Yost critic for years.

But the man does have his team in the World Series, which begins tonight against the San Francisco Giants at Kauffman Stadium. He has to be doing something right.

Right?

On Sept. 13, Yost made a change to the Royals’ lineup. Another one. He’s been tweaking the lineup all season, trying to find a spark. As you may have heard, Kansas City has struggled to produce runs. And because Babe Ruth wasn’t about to join the team and take over the clean-up spot, Yost had to experiment.

The Royals’ lineup for a Sept. 12 game against Boston looked like this:

Nori Aoki, RF; Omar Infante, 2B; Alex Gordon, LF; Billy Butler, DH; Eric Hosmer, 1B; Salvador Perez, C; Mike Moustakas, 3B; Lorenzo Cain, CF; Alcides Escobar, SS

It was the last time the Royals lineup has looked like that.

The next night, again against the Red Sox, Yost switched things up. The lineup looked like this:

Escobar, SS; Aoki, DH; Cain, RF; Gordon, LF; Perez, C; Hosmer, 1B; Infante, 2B; Moustakas, 3B; Jarrod Dyson, CF.

Yost moved the Nos. 8 and 9 hitters way up in the lineup. He put three players with speed at the top of the batting order, hopeful they could get on base and create some havoc and opportunities for the guys in the middle of the lineup.

It was a big risk, especially with Escobar. He’s never been a big on-base guy because he draws so few walks; just 134 in 3,198 plate appearances. And Escobar has walked just once in 40 plate appearances during the 2014 postseason.

But the lineup works better with Escobar, Aoki and Cain in the 1-2-3 spots. And Sept. 21, after losing two straight to Detroit, Yost did some more tweaking. He moved Hosmer to the cleanup spot and dropped Gordon to No. 6.

And this is the lineup the Royals have used since:

Escobar, SS; Aoki, RF; Cain, CF; Hosmer, 1B; Butler, DH; Gordon, LF; Perez, C; Infante, 2B; Moustakas, 3B.

The Royals haven’t been the ‘27 Yankees with this lineup, but there has been an uptick. Cain and Hosmer, particularly, have thrived. So has Moustakas.

It’s interesting to see just how much Yost has tried to do with this lineup this season. Nobody has been in the same spot regularly. And none of the Royals are batting in the postseason where they batted most in the regular season. Here’s the breakdown:

Escobar – First, 16 times; Second, 13; Sixth, 1; Seventh, 11; Eighth, 50; Ninth, 71.

Aoki – First, 104; Second, 15; Seventh, 1; Eight, 2; Ninth, 4.

Cain – First, 21; Second, 3; Third, 14; Sixth, 22; Seventh, 34; Eighth, 28.

Hosmer – Second, 32; Third, 68; Fourth, 8; Fifth, 12; Sixth, 6.

Butler – Third, 25; Fourth, 79; Fifth, 12; Sixth, 21; Seventh, 6.

Gordon – Third, 27; Fourth, 30; Fifth, 90; Sixth, 8.

Perez – Third, 27; Fourth, 37; Fifth, 30; Sixth, 43; Seventh, 8.

Infante – First, 5; Second, 97; Fifth, 8; Sixth, 6; Seventh, 7; Eighth, 11.

Moustakas – Fifth, 7; Sixth, 9; Seventh, 63; Eighth, 38; Ninth, 9.

Thanks for reading. Enjoy the World Series. It should be a good one.

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