One of the most basic yet important jobs for a baseball manager is to set their team’s lineup. This is also known as setting the batting order. Setting the lineup is not just important for giving your team the best chance for success, it will also determine how many at-bats each player can expect to receive and in what situations those at-bats will take place. Many young players also believe that it is “better” to bat near the top of the lineup. (Side note, this problem exists in the majors as well).
Today, we will review the basics of setting a lineup, how to use these concepts towards creating your ideal batting order, and how to tailor your lineup to best suit your individual players.
As the new season begins in many parts of the country, the first job for many youth coaches is to scout their own team. Is the big kid really a power hitter? Is your shortstop an automatic pick for the leadoff spot? A manager must understand the abilities of his or her players before setting an efficient lineup.
Many youth baseball leagues begin without many lead-in practices. This can create a challenge for coaches. To get a feel for players’ abilities at the plate, youth coaches may consider designating time for a team-wide batting practice session. Give each player the same amount of swings (or time, or pitches) to see what they can do.
Coaches should be evaluating hitters on their ability to make contact, their plate discipline, their power, their speed, and their overall comfort at the plate.
If part one of setting a baseball lineup is knowing players’ skill sets, part two is understanding how to structure a baseball lineup. The following is what managers traditionally look for in every spot in the order from one (1) through four (4):
The “bottom half” of the lineup is equally important, and sometimes more difficult to manage. Instead of selecting from your faster player or biggest power hitter, coaches must consider how these players will flow in order. Here are some considerations for the bottom of a little league lineup:
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