Opening Day is only eleven days away, and we already know who will be on the mound for the Mets. As for the team's lineup this year, Terry Collins is toying with the idea of batting David Wright second, the pitcher eighth, and Juan Lagares ninth. Of course, Lagares makes sense as a candidate for the leadoff spot, especially after excelling in that role last season and stealing seven bases over his final fourteen games.
The Mets hit the pitcher eighth ten times last year. If they were to do so regularly this year, the projected lineup would have Curtis Granderson leading off, Wright second, Lucas Duda in the three hole, Michael Cuddyer cleanup, and Daniel Murphy fifth. The numbers have shown that it's optimal for a team to put its best hitter in the second spot in the order.
While the pitcher traditionally hits ninth, Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa utilized this strategy 432 times over his managerial career, 358 times more than any other manager in history. In 2008, La Russa batted the pitcher eighth in all 153 games in which the Cardinals did not use a designated hitter. It is worth noting, however, that La Russa rarely batted his pitcher eighth during the Cardinals' championship seasons in 2006 and 2011.