Arizona doesn't have a pure clean-up hitter, period. The closest players we have to a clean-up hitter is Eric Byrnes, Mark Reynolds, and Conor Jackson. Those are the most pathetic clean-up hitters I've seen. Eric Byrnes is a stereo-typical 2 hitter, Mark Reynolds strikes out too much and doesn't fit the clean-up hitter scenario for this team (advance runners, get rbi's), and Conor Jackson has the worst RISP average. Even with the team makeup (to produce one run at a time) these guys are bad for the clean-up spot. With that said, Arizona's batting order is perpetually needing to be changed, and will always be geared towards getting those one or two runs per inning instead of the three or four. Regardless of whether the top, middle, or bottom of the order is due up.
Granted the line-up will be changing more than the shifting sands in the Sonoran Desert, and players will rise and fall within the lineup more than a "Streety's" britches on Van Buren. But as a general rule of thumb this is how I think the batting order ought to look, not for power numbers, but to maximize what this team tries to do, score one or two runs per inning. This line-up would use certain strengths of players, such as Young's speed or Jackson's eye for the strike zone, to keep pressure on the opposing teams pitchers.
Lead Off Hitter
Chris B. Young - He's got great speed and can swipe bags as good as anyone else on the team. He's also got a bit of pop in his bat. His .239 carreer batting average and high strike out numbers are a cause for concern, but what he brings to the table when he's on makes him a shoe-in for the leadoff spot. He can improve, but being a young player you have to give him the benefit of the doubt... for now.
Orlando Hudson - Hudson started the year off as the lead-off last season, and did a great job. When Chris Young started getting hot, Hudson moved to the #2 slot, which is a good place for him. He's an aggressive runner and his speed makes it difficult for teams to double him up. He's also a carreer .278 hitter with his lowest being .268. That kind of consistencies is what you look for in the top of the order. If Young struggles at the dish it won't be long until Hudson takes over the lead-off spot.
Eric Byrnes - He's only hit .300 one time in his carreer, and that was when he played 10 games with Oakland his rookie year. Last year was his best year for batting with a meager, in regards to a #3 hitter, .286 average. So why do I want him batting #3? Because I don't like any of the other options more. He's got good speed so he also doesn't get doubled up frequently, he's got average power numbers, but most importantly last year with RISP he batted .296 with 19 BB and 62 RBI's.
In my opinion, the best player for the cleanup spot has to be Mark Reynolds. He's got a lot of pop in his bat, and I expect to see a better year this year than last. As a switch hitter, his batting average is nearly identical no matter where he plays or what side of the plate he is swinging from. He strikes out quite a bit, but you expect that out of an average power hitter. He batted .279 his rookie year with 17 homeruns and 62 rbi's in 111 games. Most of that damage was done in the second half as he adjusted to the pitching in the Bigs.
Chris Snyder - Once again the batting average is low (.252) but provides different threats depending on if he's facing a lefty or a righty. Last year against lefties he bats .316 with 23 RBI's and a .407 OBP. While the rbi's don't drop off against the lefties, his batting average goes down while his power numbers go up.
Stephen Drew - I expect to see a break-out year from Stephen Drew. He doesn't have the power numbers to be a three, four, or five hole hitter, or the speed to be the one or two. He's a consistent bottom of the line up guy who puts the ball in play and puts pressure on the defense and the pitcher. He's got a .259 carreer batting average and average numbers across the board. Drew has a strong second half upside as his batting average, run production, and rbi's consistently climbs through July, August, and September.
Justin Upton - Upton his touted as one of the greatest prospects in baseball. He floundered last year after being brought up after the All-Star Break. He can benefit greatly from getting some good looking pitches to hit. Placing him seventh isn't because he deserves it, but because he can develop more here than batting ahead of the pitcher where he won't get any decent looks. I expect a rough start early on for the kid, but as the season progresses look for some decent numbers with increased run production and fewer strikeouts. He'll also provide some good speed in the bottom of the lineup.
Conor Jackson - I know a lot of people will disagree with me on this one, but frankly I'm not impressed by his unfulfilled potential. His 2008 RISP average is a horrendous .235, with an overall ba of .284. My greatest reason for putting him here as opposed to sixth or seventh is because he walks... a lot! The eight hole hitter always gets junk pitches because you've got the pitcher behind you. If your eight hole guy isn't swinging at bad pitches, it means you aren't beating yourself. If Mark Reynolds fails to produce in the clean-up spot, you almost have to give the guy the nod for that spot.
**For those of you that aren't familiar with my disdain for CoJack, let me just say this: I can't stand the guy and he ought to be traded. He hasn't lived up to his potential at this point, and like many other "up and coming" Diamondbacks, I doubt that he ever will. And until he can prove me wrong, I'm going to continue raggin' on the guy, regardless of complete logic. If it weren't for my distaste for him, he'd probably be batting sixth instead of ninth.**