Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports
In baseball, when someone refers to the meat of the order, they’re referring to the big boys in the Nos. 3, 4 and 5 spots in the order.
And when it comes to the meat of the order, you don’t want chicken, fish or any other kind of meat. You want thick, big ol’ beef.
Entering play today, the Texas Rangers weren’t getting much beef from the Nos. 3-4 spots, and certainly not much help from the No. 2 spot, where Elvis Andrus has been slotted up to this point.
They certainly haven’t gotten it lately from Adrian Beltre, who had a quad injury derail what was turning out to be a very good start of the season at the plate for him.
And they certainly haven’t gotten it yet from the beefiest guy in the lineup – literally — in newly-acquired Prince Fielder, who was supposed to come in and immediately inject more firepower into the middle of the order, which has been missing since Josh Hamilton and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim “put a ring on it.”
You can say what you want about “Hambone,” but when he was healthy, you knew who was going to be slotted at No. 3 in the order day in and day out. The Rangers have been searching for someone to fill the void that was created when he left.
It’s the truth. Hate it if you must.
Fielder entered play today with a slash line of .209/.326/.309. Beltre entered play today with a slash line of .224/.308/.310. Fielder has two homers and Beltre has none.
The Rangers have tried flipping Fielder and Beltre in the Nos. 3-4 spots in the order lately, and I honestly think one of those combinations will eventually work itself out. Both players are just too good for this paltry production to continue.
They have both broken out of things today, each recording two hits apiece to this point in the ballgame, but you don’t base breaking out of a slump on just one game.
You can feel confident that both Beltre and Fielder — and you can lump Andrus into this as well — are out of their respective slumps when they string consecutive games like this together.
Until then, stay level with your excitement and just hope the breakout is coming soon.
Thankfully, the Rangers have gotten outstanding production out of Alex Rios in the No. 5 spot in the order.
Rios entered play today with a very, very good slash line of .333/.363/.470 with two home runs, eight doubles and a team-leading 14 RBIs. He also has five stolen bases on the season so far.
Rios has picked up for Fielder and Beltre in a lot of places but, honestly, that shouldn’t last long and I’m meaning that in a positive way.
Beltre and Fielder should start slugging much more than they have so far, and that will actually allow Rios to be a de facto leadoff hitter behind them. With his speed and slugging ability, Rios can certainly turn into a catalyst in the middle of the order when Beltre and Fielder eventually pick up their production.
All three could use more help from the No. 2 spot in the order, where Andrus has manned for a couple years now. He was moved to No. 9 in the order today, and I think that’s exactly where he should stay – for a while.
This may be just me, but Andrus is not a No. 2 hitter. He is a shortstop in the mold of the old shortstops, and he should either be hitting first or ninth.
The Ranges signed Shin-Soo Choo to man the top of the order for a long, long time, so Andrus should permanently be slotted in the ninth spot.
The Rangers do have a player they may be able to slide into the No. 2 spot sooner rather than later, but it will require relegating Mitch Moreland to a bench player. Honestly, it’s worth it.
Michael Choice is developing, and he’s developing very quickly. He’s much more versatile and he’s already having more of an impact than Moreland.
Choice would fit perfectly into that No. 2 spot and, while it takes Moreland – a powerful left-handed bat – out of the lineup, Choice offers more than Moreland does at this point.
Moreland could also be used in a package later on to help acquire an impact player of the front office’s liking. This idea might seem a little outlandish to some, but think about it for a bit and it will certainly start growing on you.
Beltre and Fielder need to start producing, but they could use some more help in front of them.
Choo is certainly doing his job and more, but a better option in-between Choo, Beltre and Fielder may fix things altogether.