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Setting a Batting Order

If there’s one thing in baseball that both coaches and players are always striving for, it’s consistency. A coach’s batting order can go a long way towards setting players up to do their best day in and day out. If a player knows where he’s going to hit prior to every game, then that can be a big positive.

That’s how Wylie (Texas) East High School Baseball Coach Heath Andrews sees it.

“I’m kind of a creature of habit and I think the kids (are too),” Andrews said. “Baseball’s about being comfortable, so once we get something locked in preseason, they know that’s their spot, that’s their role. I think this year we’ve figured out a lineup that’s working for us, so it doesn’t change.”

Andrews naturally has rules he adheres to in writing his lineup. He still likes to have his three best hitters at the top, but has ways to more effectively balance his lineup.

“I like to finish up the lineup with guys who could be leadoff-type kids, balance it out as much as I can, so they can get on so when the top of that lineup comes back around (they can drive them in),” Andrews said. “It works out well for us. Our nine-hole hitter is just phenomenal. He gets on base and he sets it up for really a three-hole hitter (our leadoff man) to come up next.”

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This simple belief has proven effective over his 16-plus seasons as a head coach.

“Our philosophy is if the bottom of the lineup goes, the team goes,” Andrews said. “So if you can get the six, seven, eight, nine guys, if they can produce, get on, if they’re producing with our top half (of the lineup) the way it is, we win.”

With that approach, Andrews has standard criteria he expects from players who hit between six and nine.

“I’m looking for speed, for contact guys, guys that are tough at the plate, tough outs, can work an AB, find a way to get on. If those guys get on, we’ve got a chance,” Andrews said.

However, one thing he doesn’t do is put his weaker hitters at the bottom of the order.

“I typically don’t like to put somebody that struggles in the nine hole, I’ll try and hide him somewhere in the middle,” Andrews said. “I used to stack everybody up and then my eight, nine hole would be weaker hitters and then you’re back up the lineup. But I’ve found out in my 17 years teams are really good when my nine hole are good players, good hitters, it makes a big difference.”

So how does Andrews get his players at the bottom of the order to buy in? 

“I tell the kid if he feels like he should be a two-hole (hitter) or in the top three, I just tell him you are, you are a leadoff-type guy for the second time through, third time through, however it may end up, so they take a lot of pride in that,” Andrews said.

From GameChanger and Stephen Hunt.