Red Sox feature top middle of the order
June, 29, 2011
By Jim Bowden | ESPN.com
AP Photo/Frank Franklin IIAdrian Gonzalez leads the majors in both hitting (.357) and RBIs (71).The most important part of a major league lineup is the middle of the order, the Nos. 3, 4 and 5 hitters. Along with producing the most runs, they are counted on to hit the best pitchers and their best stuff at any time in the count and with runners in scoring position.
The ideal middle of the lineup would have three switch-hitters. It's important to achieve a balance; the preference is to have two who can hit from the left side because the majority of pitchers throw right-handed and it helps against situational pitchers late in the game. Having three left-handed or right-handed hitters in a row can leave you susceptible.
Teams with three impact hitters in the middle of the order score the most runs because opposing pitchers can't pitch around them. These hitters usually take advantage of mistake pitches since it’s tough for any pitcher to get through three consecutive hitters without making at least one mistake. The qualities of the best middle-of-the-order hitters are the following: tremendous bat speed; above-average pitch recognition; loud, consistent, sweet-spot contact; incredible hand/eye coordination; mental toughness; and supreme concentration and focus.