Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton is, as long as he is healthy, a lock to be hitting third in the lineup. The Marlins signed Rafael Furcal to bat leadoff during the offseason, but after he was placed on the 15-day disabled list to begin the year, Manager Mike Redmond has had to restructure his starting lineup.
Throughout the spring and in Miami's first game on Monday night, Redmond chose Christian Yelich to serve as the squad's leadoff hitter. Yelich posted a .370 OBP in 62 games last season, but is thought of as more of two hitter. Ideally, midway through April, a healthy Furcal would be followed by Yelich, who collected a pair of hits against Rockies lefty Jorge De La Rosa in Miami's 10-1 Opening Day victory despite a career .165 average against lefties.
"When we had Ralfie leading off and Yelly second, it was set up perfectly for us," Redmond said Saturday. "But things change. We have some options [for the two-hole]. Adeiny Hechavarria can hit there. We could hit [Jeff] Baker there, or [Derek] Dietrich"
Jeff Baker is expected to be a valuable asset against lefties, and although he didn't collect a hit in his Marlins debut, is a luxury for Redmond to have on the bench. Not only can he pinch hit or make a spot start, but he is also versatile in terms of his ability to play several infield positions. Baker batting second is something that may become common against left-handed pitchers while Furcal is on the DL.
Adeiny Hechavarria, while having a great defensive year in 2013, consistently struggled offensively, as many Marlins did. He didn't thrive in the two hole when he was placed there, and while it is very early, Hechavarria looked comfortable in the eight spot.
Hechavarria has the speed that a leadoff batter should possess, but his inability to get on base consistently likely will hurt the odds of him getting the Marlins' offense underway on a nightly basis.
With flexibility and depth, Redmond has several options to protect Stanton. He reportedly has considered batting Baker cleanup, but Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Garrett Jones, and Casey McGehee are all viable options.
While few parts of Miami's 2013 starting lineup were productive, the number two hitters struggled the most.
Not that any spot in the order was especially productive last season, but the No. 2 hole was among the most problematic. Collectively, Marlins' hitters in that spot ranked last in the National Leaguein slugging (.313), OPS (.617), runs (70) and RBI (37).
With Furcal out, the Marlins may post various different lineups that mainly differ at the top. Although the bottom of the lineup thrived on Monday night, if Yelich can be consistent in the leadoff spot, Furcal's absence won't be as drastic.