How the Tampa Bay Rays can fill the holes in the batting order

Tommy Pham (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Tommy Pham (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /
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Jose Martinez with the St. Louis Cardinals  (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

Tampa Bay Rays – How to make the three and four-holes, not holes.

Hunter Renfroe has been most productive over his career from the fifth and seventh spot in the lineup, posting an OPS of .899 and .860 respectively.

Jose Martinez has excelled as a cleanup hitter. In 152 career plate appearances from the spot, he slashed .328/.408/.515 with five homers and 32 RBI. He also posted an OPS of .884 as the number two-hitter in the lineup.

Guys like Nate Lowe and Brian O’Grady could fill in as a middle-of-the-order bat if they can find room for both on the roster. O’Grady is a lefty who hits left-handed pitching better than he does righties, and he crushes righties! As impressive as Nate Lowe’s 27 minor-league homers were in 2018, O’Grady set the Louisville Bats’ single-season record last year with 28.

The Rays are hopeful that Yoshitomo Tsutsugo will be able to handle major-league pitching as easily as he did in Japan, but that remains to be seen.

Brandon Lowe had his plate appearances spread out up and down the lineup last season. He slugged over .500 from six different spots. Now that his rookie year is behind him, he could serve as a stabilizing middle of the order bat. Lowe slugged .514 last season with 36 extra-base hits in just 296 at-bats.

Ji-Man Choi earned the majority of his plate appearances as the third hitter in the lineup last season and he disappointed with a sOPS+ of 82. He was even worse from the cleanup spot with a sOPS+ of just 68.

However, in his 87 PAs from the fifth spot in the lineup, Choi slashed a silly .368/.437/.803 with nine homers.