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Colorado Rockies lineup options with Charlie Blackmon in the middle of the order

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Let’s play manager!

The Colorado Rockies need to improve their offense in 2018. While some of us clamored for an offseason addition to address those concerns, the team has chosen to count on internal options that will need to either improve (Ian Desmond, Trevor Story) or arrive (David Dahl, Raimel Tapia, Ryan McMahon) to bolster the offense.

Another way that the Rockies could inject life into their offense is to change their lineup around. Ryan Freemyer suggested a switch along those lines last season when he argued that Charlie Blackmon should bat second and DJ LeMahieu should bat leadoff.

The Rockies kept Blackmon in the leadoff spot for all of 2017, but with a recent report from Patrick Saunders that Bud Black will try Blackmon in the middle of the lineup during spring training, we can start to think about what these new lineups would look like.

Let’s play manager!

The Swap

Because of LeMahieu’s ability to put the ball in play, and in turn his ability to ground into double plays, the Rockies might find an improvement by swapping him with Blackmon as we just mentioned. How about something like this:

2B - LeMahieu
CF - Blackmon
3B - Arenado
SS - Story
RF - Gerardo Parra
LF - Desmond
1B - McMahon
C - Chris Iannetta and friends
Pitcher

I built this lineup assuming that we will see more of the veterans in the corners of the outfield, and I think you should think about that too. It’s just a gut feeling, but between the foils of youth and injuries, the dream of Dahl and Tapia might not be realized just yet. Then again, we can dream while we’re playing manager.

The Swap with Better Outfielders

No disrespect to Desmond and Parra, but we’ve been talking about Dahl and Tapia for years and we should let ourselves think of a lineup with them in it. Also I put Desmond in at first base because you know why.

2B - LeMahieu
CF - Blackmon
RF - Dahl
3B - Arenado
SS - Story
1B - Desmond
LF - Tapia
C - Iannetta and friends
Pitcher

This puts a lot of pressure on Dahl, of course, but we have plenty of reasons to believe he’s up to it if he’s healthy. Now let’s get weird.

Plug Those Bases

It would be crazy to bat Iannetta, an on-base machine who is also a hopelessly slow runner, in the second spot, right? Maybe not—the Arizona Diamondbacks deployed him there on occasion en route to the playoffs last season.

2B - LeMahieu
C - Iannetta
CF - Blackmon
3B - Arenado
RF - Dahl
SS - Story
1B - McMahon
LF - Desmond/Parra
Pitcher

Can I tell you guys something? I kind of like that lineup a lot. Call me crazy, but while you do I’ll be dreaming on LeMahieu and Iannetta dad-jogging their way around the bases with Blackmon or Arenado home-run-trotting behind them.

Actual Possibility No. 1 (Probably) (Maybe)

As you can see with my attempts at this exercise, there are a number of spots in the lineup that are hard to nail down. Specifically, both corners of the outfield and first base are totally up in the air.

Whoever wins those position battles, or how Black mixes playing time among those guys, will go a long way towards explaining what the top of the lineup would look like if it wasn’t Blackmon and then LeMahieu. I should also say that, for all of my fun with LeMahieu batting lead-off, Black seemed to suggest that his lanky second baseman would remain entrenched in the two-hole with a different lead-off hitter.

Black suggested Desmond (gulp), Dahl and Tapia as candidates to lead off. With that in mind, let’s take a stab at two actual possibilities. The first one assumes Dahl is healthy:

RF - Dahl
2B - LeMahieu
CF - Blackmon
3B - Arenado
LF - Desmond/Parra
SS - Story
1B - McMahon/Desmond
C - Iannetta and friends
Pitcher

If Tapia is in for Dahl, I’m guessing he would just swap in at leadoff. If he is in left field, I would assume he drops down to 7th or 8th and the other guys bump up. I can also imagine some mixing and matching depending on where Desmond is playing—a hedge that shows that I obviously don’t know what the hell to do with Desmond, but I don’t think the Rockies do either.

For what it’s worth, I think this is pretty darn close to what the actual lineup will be.

Actual Possibility No. 2 (Probably) (Maybe)

And now let’s indulge the unfortunate possibility that Dahl struggles to stay healthy again.

LF - Desmond/Tapia
2B - LeMahieu
CF - Blackmon
3B - Arenado
RF - Parra/Desmond
SS - Story
1B - McMahon/Desmond
C - Iannetta and friends

Of course all of these are subject to change if the Rockies make another addition in free agency, whether it be an unlikely one (J.D Martinez) or a more realistic one (Mark Reynolds).

There are a lot of different ways to put a lineup together, especially with uncertainty about position battles. That’s what makes it fun, especially this time of year as we get ready for real baseball. So what would you do with the lineup if you moved Blackmon out of the leadoff spot?