There are few things in baseball that are discussed more than batting orders and lineups. Every fan, analyst, and Tom Dick and Harry has an idea on how best to construct the lineup. Most managers don't pay much attention to what is being said and written about this, as they have their own set of criteria that they are looking at to make these determinations.
So knowing this will fall on deaf ears and blind eyes, I don't expect anything to change. But I'll plow ahead with my little thought exercise anyway.
Gibby has talked about how Upton has become a more complete ballplayer and while he's not hitting for power, is still contributing in other ways and has improved his game in other areas. I agree with that. Justin's .361 OBP is second best on the team this season.
Rk G PA R BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ 1 Miguel Montero* 100 404 47 55 91 .283 .394 .466 .860 126 2 Justin Upton 108 449 77 50 93 .275 .361 .406 .767 102 3 Paul Goldschmidt 103 409 51 34 96 .296 .355 .526 .881 128 4 Jason Kubel* 106 443 62 43 116 .277 .348 .546 .893 131 5 Aaron Hill 111 465 57 34 65 .293 .346 .480 .826 115 6 Gerardo Parra* 96 319 47 28 54 .277 .345 .404 .748 97 7 Willie Bloomquist 79 337 46 12 55 .300 .323 .396 .720 89 8 Chris Young 72 276 29 33 60 .212 .312 .419 .731 90
Moving Justin from 5th to 1st would put the team's 2nd best OBP guy in position to help set the table. While Justin does not have a good stolen base percentage, he is great at going first to 3rd on a single, scoring from 1st on doubles, etc etc. His speed is still a weapon at the top of the order and on the base baths.
Justin sees 3.87 P/PA, which is a little above league average (3.80
One of two things will happen if Justin is leading off. He'll see more fastballs and fewer breaking pitches, at least in his first AB of the game.....or if he still sees just as many breaking pitches, he'll possibly be better able to lay off some of those down and away sliders that confound him, as he'll be going up there knowing his role is to get on base and see as many pitches as possible.
I see an opportunity to maximize what Upton is doing well this season while minimizing what he is doing poorly, which is of course not hitting for power. Without the power he is not helping the lineup from the 5th or 3rd spot as much as he could be. But with OBP and speed, he could "spark" the offense from the top perhaps.
The team and Gibson have nothing to lose by trying this. As Amit Posted in his blog a week ago, the team leads the majors in games they have been shut out or scored just 1 run. Who knows....maybe such a "radical" shake up move could be the trigger that gets the offense moving and more consistent over the last 40+ games. It really can't hurt to try, and could make Gibby look like a genius if it works.