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“Simply platoon it.” At any time when a staff has a weak spot of their lineup, that’s the very first thing I consider. Limp left subject manufacturing? Simply sprinkle some platoon on it, and you might be dwelling giant. Second base received you down? You’re only one platoon away from competence, and even excellence in case you play your playing cards proper. Second base and left subject are unhealthy? Bam, platoon them each!

It isn’t really that straightforward. If you wish to deploy a platoon within the majors (versus in concept, my favourite place to deploy platoons), it’s a must to wrangle with actuality, which is notoriously unforgiving. In that vein, that is an article I’m writing to remind myself how exhausting it’s to run a number of platoons without delay. It’s not essentially a cause to not platoon. It’s not even a critique of platooning. It’s simply that in my head, and probably in yours, groups are passing up platoon spots left and proper. Listed below are some the reason why that isn’t true.

Too Many Pitchers

This one is sort of straightforward, however one solution to find yourself brief on platoon-able bats is to run a 14-man pitching workers. That leaves you 12 roster spots to, , play baseball with. There are eight positions on the sphere — and let’s be actual, most likely 9 in each leagues after this 12 months — which leaves three bench spots. Subtract one for a backup catcher, and that leaves you two “bench” spots to cowl backups throughout all of your positions and platoons.

The opposite examples on this article will include particular groups who’ve been on this precise state of affairs, however there’s virtually no level on this state of affairs. The mathematics is simply too apparent. You possibly can help one platoon on 12 gamers if one of many platoon companions doubles as a multi-position backup, however you may’t platoon first base, or two DH-only bats, or any generic mixtures of huge hulking sluggers.

This specific cause to not platoon can be doubtless on its method out. The 26-man roster was supposed to hold a 13-pitcher most with it. That pitcher cap was suspended in 2020, although, a prudent resolution given the strangeness of the COVID season. It remained suspended in 2021 as pitchers constructed up in the direction of a full workload once more. It’s prone to return in 2022, at which level this platoon limitation will cease current.

Awkward Backups

Think about a platoon-y outfielder — let’s say Hunter Renfroe. Think about a lefty who may play the outfield — seller’s selection of Franchy Cordero, Alex Verdugo, and Jarren Duran. That’s a tailored platoon proper there. However now let’s check out Boston’s beginning lineups from July 21 by July 31:

 

Day
Starter
C
1B
2B
3B
SS
LF
CF
RF
DH

7/21
L
Christian Vázquez
Bobby Dalbec
Michael Chavis
Rafael Devers
Xander Bogaerts
Danny Santana
Enrique Hernández
Hunter Renfroe
J.D. Martinez

7/22
L
Christian Vázquez
Bobby Dalbec
Michael Chavis
Rafael Devers
Xander Bogaerts
Alex Verdugo
Enrique Hernández
Hunter Renfroe
J.D. Martinez

7/23
R
Christian Vázquez
Bobby Dalbec
Enrique Hernández
Rafael Devers
Xander Bogaerts
Alex Verdugo
Jarren Duran
Hunter Renfroe
J.D. Martinez

7/24
R
Kevin Plawecki
Michael Chavis
Enrique Hernández
Rafael Devers
Xander Bogaerts
Alex Verdugo
Jarren Duran
Franchy Cordero
J.D. Martinez

7/25
R
Christian Vázquez
Franchy Cordero
Enrique Hernández
Rafael Devers
Xander Bogaerts
Alex Verdugo
Jarren Duran
Hunter Renfroe
J.D. Martinez

7/26
R
Christian Vázquez
Franchy Cordero
Michael Chavis
Rafael Devers
Enrique Hernández
Alex Verdugo
Jarren Duran
Hunter Renfroe
J.D. Martinez

7/28 (1)
L
Christian Vázquez
Bobby Dalbec
Michael Chavis
Rafael Devers
Enrique Hernández
J.D. Martinez
Alex Verdugo
Hunter Renfroe
Kevin Plawecki

7/28 (2)
L
Kevin Plawecki
Bobby Dalbec
Enrique Hernández
Rafael Devers
Xander Bogaerts
Alex Verdugo
Jarren Duran
Hunter Renfroe
J.D. Martinez

7/29
L
Christian Vázquez
Franchy Cordero
Enrique Hernández
Bobby Dalbec
Xander Bogaerts
Alex Verdugo
Jarren Duran
Hunter Renfroe
J.D. Martinez

7/30
L
Christian Vázquez
Bobby Dalbec
Enrique Hernández
Jonathan Araúz
Xander Bogaerts
Alex Verdugo
Jarren Duran
Hunter Renfroe
J.D. Martinez

7/31
L
Christian Vázquez
Bobby Dalbec
Jonathan Araúz
Rafael Devers
Xander Bogaerts
Alex Verdugo
Enrique Hernández
Hunter Renfroe
J.D. Martinez

A fast notice on the colour coding I’ll be utilizing the remainder of the article: blue means the hitter began the sport with the platoon benefit; crimson means the pitcher had it.

With that notice lined: there aren’t actually any outfield platoons right here. Renfroe began three of 4 video games in opposition to righties. Verdugo drew a begin in six of the seven video games in opposition to lefties. Duran received loads of run in opposition to lefties, too. Cordero is the closest factor to a platoon associate for Renfroe, however the Sox principally began each of them in opposition to righties. The Sox performed in opposition to loads of lefties, and having Bogaerts, Hernández, and Martinez in almost each beginning lineup made for lots of fine matchups, however a number of the sketchier elements of the roster didn’t get the additional assist they wanted.

Why? The backups didn’t actually work out. Kiké Hernández is theoretically well-suited to platoon with Duran or Verdugo, however he spent a whole lot of this stretch taking part in the infield. Cordero and Renfroe couldn’t platoon as a result of Cordero began at first base over Bobby Dalbec and Michael Chavis, each righties. Chavis was a multi-position backup till he was traded on July 30, however to the extent that he was platooning, it was a sideways rotation with Duran in heart, and the staff finally benched Chavis in opposition to lefties in favor of Duran anyway.

In different phrases, the rotations right here simply didn’t fairly work out to permit any clear platoons. Some sort of Duran/Renfroe, Duran/Hernandez, Verdugo/Renfroe, or Verdugo/Hernandez mixture might need labored to juice up an outfield spot; Renfroe is finest used in opposition to lefties, and the Sox confronted a ton of them on this pattern. However the rotating solid of first and second basemen, mixed with the intermittent must spell on a regular basis infielders, meant that the gamers you’d need in your outfield platoons have been principally busy elsewhere.

The Pink Sox nonetheless managed one platoon, roughly: first base, the place that they had the handedness benefit in eight of their 11 video games. However the place would they create a second platoon? A lefty second baseman can be good, however each of their choices there have been right-handed multi-position sorts. A lefty outfielder? They have been awash in these, and so they nonetheless couldn’t handle to platoon Renfroe. The Boston lineup had some enviable flexibility resulting from Hernández, nevertheless it didn’t translate into apparent platoons, even with somebody like Renfroe on the squad, due to the place the backups performed.

Who Would They Use?

The Pink Sox didn’t handle to platoon as a lot as you’ll anticipate, however perhaps they have been hamstrung (on this specific endeavor) by a locked-in DH spot. In case you’re utilizing your DH spot to rotate gamers, which means extra alternatives for platoons. Let’s use that July 28 double-header as a jumping-off level for one more platoon-deficient staff:

 

Date
Starter
C
1B
2B
3B
SS
LF
CF
RF
DH

7/28 (1)
R
Alejandro Kirk
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Marcus Semien
Cavan Biggio
Bo Bichette
Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
George Springer
Randal Grichuk
Teoscar Hernández

7/28 (2)
R
Reese McGuire
Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
Marcus Semien
Santiago Espinal
Bo Bichette
Teoscar Hernández
George Springer
Randal Grichuk
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

7/29
L
Reese McGuire
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Marcus Semien
Santiago Espinal
Bo Bichette
Cavan Biggio
Randal Grichuk
Teoscar Hernández
George Springer

7/30
L
Alejandro Kirk
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Marcus Semien
Santiago Espinal
Bo Bichette
Teoscar Hernández
George Springer
Randal Grichuk
Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

7/31
L
Alejandro Kirk
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Marcus Semien
Santiago Espinal
Bo Bichette
Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
George Springer
Teoscar Hernández
Randal Grichuk

8/1
R
Reese McGuire
Cavan Biggio
Marcus Semien
Santiago Espinal
Bo Bichette
Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
Randal Grichuk
Teoscar Hernández
George Springer

8/2
R
Alejandro Kirk
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Cavan Biggio
Santiago Espinal
Marcus Semien
Teoscar Hernández
George Springer
Randal Grichuk
Bo Bichette

8/3
R
Reese McGuire
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Marcus Semien
Breyvic Valera
Bo Bichette
Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
George Springer
Teoscar Hernández
Corey Dickerson

8/4
R
Reese McGuire
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Marcus Semien
Breyvic Valera
Bo Bichette
Corey Dickerson
Randal Grichuk
Teoscar Hernández
George Springer

8/5
R
Reese McGuire
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Marcus Semien
Santiago Espinal
Bo Bichette
Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
George Springer
Randal Grichuk
Corey Dickerson

8/6
R
Alejandro Kirk
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Marcus Semien
Breyvic Valera
Bo Bichette
Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
Randal Grichuk
Teoscar Hernández
George Springer

8/7 (1)
R
Alejandro Kirk
Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
Marcus Semien
Santiago Espinal
Bo Bichette
Corey Dickerson
George Springer
Teoscar Hernández
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

8/7 (2)
R
Reese McGuire
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Marcus Semien
Breyvic Valera
Bo Bichette
Corey Dickerson
Randal Grichuk
Teoscar Hernández
George Springer

8/8
R
Reese McGuire
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Breyvic Valera
Santiago Espinal
Marcus Semien
Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
George Springer
Teoscar Hernández
Corey Dickerson

The Blue Jays seem to be a great candidate to run a ton of platoons. Randal Grichuk? Platoon central. Cavan Biggio? He can play anyplace, and likewise principally shouldn’t face lefties. Corey Dickerson is positionally restricted, however he crushes righties. Not solely that, however in Alejandro Kirk, the staff additionally has a catcher who can shift to DH in opposition to both handedness of pitcher with no downside. Toronto is closely right-handed in its base configuration; in two of the video games in opposition to lefty starters, each hitter within the lineup batted righty. However just a few good lefty bats changing the much less fearsome hitters (nobody was bumping Springer, Guerrero, Semien, or Bichette out of the lineup) would go a great distance towards extending the lineup in opposition to right-handed starters.

However the Jays didn’t shift Kirk to DH so as to add one other platoon-proof bat. Additionally they principally didn’t sit Grichuk in opposition to righties, as a result of they have been busy giving everybody relaxation. Biggio hit the IL on August 3, and after that, they didn’t actually have a lefty infield bat to make the rotations sing; Valera is a switch-hitter, and nobody’s concept of a platoon bat. There merely weren’t any lefties to make use of.

Even with Biggio within the lineup, Espinal drew three begins in opposition to 4 righties. That’s as a result of Biggio and Espinal double as backups at a number of different positions, so their platoon typically turns into “simply begin each.” Guerrero wants a time off at first? That’s Biggio’s cue. When Bichette rested, that usually moved Semien to brief and Biggio to second. It’s helpful to have a flexible defender who can hit, however until there’s one other lefty bat to deal with the “platoon” a part of his job, somebody must play third base, and that somebody on this case was Espinal.

When Dickerson got here off the IL, there was an ideal alternative so as to add a platoon piece within the outfield. However with the outfielders rotating by DH, there wasn’t fairly as a lot house as you’d suppose. Dickerson joined the staff the identical day Biggio hit the IL — he’d been on the shelf himself — and crowded Grichuk out a bit. However Grichuk nonetheless began 4 of the subsequent seven contests in opposition to righties. In case you regarded on the Jays’ lineup, you’d positively pencil in a Grichuk/Dickerson platoon, however on condition that the staff had no actual outfield depth behind them, whichever facet of the platoon was “off” that day steadily spelled one other outfielder anyway.

The Jays weren’t roster-constrained in any respect throughout this time. If that they had one other affect bat, they might have plugged them into the lineup instantly; once they activated Danny Jansen from the IL on August 31, they began utilizing Kirk at DH once in a while to cover Grichuk in opposition to righties. The issue is just that regardless of a versatile roster, the staff didn’t have a worthy bat to gobble up plate appearances in opposition to righties. Apparently, you may’t simply say “platoon” and anticipate every part to be okay. Who knew?

How Platoons Really Work

Let’s keep within the AL East for an instance of how issues look while you’re maximizing your roster and buying the fitting platoon bats to make use of these roster spots. After the commerce deadline, the Rays had a new-look staff with Nelson Cruz and Wander Franco as fixtures within the on a regular basis lineup. That’s to not say they weren’t a bit bit lefty-heavy, however they performed musical chairs fairly effectively:

 

Day
Starter
C
1B
2B
3B
SS
LF
CF
RF
DH

8/10
L
Mike Zunino
Jordan Luplow
Brandon Lowe
Yandy Díaz
Wander Franco
Austin Meadows
Manuel Margot
Randy Arozarena
Nelson Cruz

8/11
R
Francisco Mejía
Ji-Man Choi
Brandon Lowe
Joey Wendle
Wander Franco
Austin Meadows
Brett Phillips
Randy Arozarena
Nelson Cruz

8/12
R
Mike Zunino
Yandy Díaz
Brandon Lowe
Joey Wendle
Wander Franco
Austin Meadows
Kevin Kiermaier
Brett Phillips
Nelson Cruz

8/13
R
Mike Zunino
Yandy Díaz
Brandon Lowe
Joey Wendle
Wander Franco
Randy Arozarena
Kevin Kiermaier
Manuel Margot
Nelson Cruz

8/14
R
Francisco Mejía
Ji-Man Choi
Brandon Lowe
Joey Wendle
Wander Franco
Austin Meadows
Kevin Kiermaier
Randy Arozarena
Nelson Cruz

8/15
L
Mike Zunino
Jordan Luplow
Mike Brosseau
Joey Wendle
Wander Franco
Austin Meadows
Manuel Margot
Randy Arozarena
Nelson Cruz

8/16
R
Francisco Mejía
Ji-Man Choi
Brandon Lowe
Mike Brosseau
Joey Wendle
Manuel Margot
Kevin Kiermaier
Brett Phillips
Austin Meadows

8/17
L
Mike Zunino
Jordan Luplow
Brandon Lowe
Yandy Díaz
Wander Franco
Randy Arozarena
Kevin Kiermaier
Manuel Margot
Nelson Cruz

In comparison with the opposite groups we’ve checked out, that’s a veritable sea of blue. The machinations concerned in getting everybody their relaxation and principally discovering good matchups is spectacular. Wendle began all 5 video games in opposition to righties and solely one in all three in opposition to lefties. Phillips and Choi solely performed in opposition to righties, and Luplow solely performed in opposition to lefties. Lowe’s relaxation day got here in opposition to a lefty; Cruz’s got here in opposition to a righty. Arozarena performed virtually each day, however when he received two days off, they have been each in opposition to righties.

In case you’ll discover, although, the Rays used 15 place gamers to handle that juggling act. Off stage, they have been working by relievers like mad. Over these eight days, they referred to as up seven completely different relievers, shuffling the bullpen typically sufficient that they steadily had contemporary arms regardless of fewer pitchers out there on any given day. Even then, Brosseau received despatched again down on August 17, Luplow hit the IL just a few days later, and each have been changed with pitchers. Even the peripatetic Rays couldn’t preserve their max-platoon strategy for lengthy.

So, ought to groups platoon wherever they’ll? Completely. Managers and entrance places of work aren’t dumb; they attempt to put their gamers in the very best place to succeed. However there are myriad ways in which “platoon the place you may” turns into “simply run out Hunter Renfroe in opposition to a righty” extra rapidly than you may anticipate. In case you suppose your favourite staff ought to run extra platoons to cover weak bats, belief me: it’s making an attempt. The pains of constructing a significant league roster simply don’t allow them to generally.

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