Mattingly turning to analytics for lineup shuffling

May 5th, 2018
Miami Marlins' manager Don Mattingly stands in the dugout in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the the Cincinnati Reds, Friday, May 4, 2018, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)Aaron Doster/AP

CINCINNATI -- Marlins manager Don Mattingly continues to shuffle around his batting order as his team searches for answers offensively.
The Marlins entered Saturday as the only team to not yet reach 100 runs scored, and they used their 28th different lineup in 32 games. Saturday's new order paid off as the Marlins put up two runs in the first inning and topped the Reds, 6-0, at Great American Ball Park.
"Obviously, you're just trying to mix it up enough to find a combination that works and you can be consistent with," Mattingly said before the game. "It's a little challenging because we're pretty right-handed, so it's hard to, like, really stack the lineup one way or another. If it's a lefty, it's a little easier. Just really getting everybody going is the main thing."
Saturday's iteration was the fifth this season -- all in the last eight games -- to move All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto into the leadoff spot. Realmuto is certainly not a prototypical leadoff hitter, but his .381 on-base percentage paces the team. He went 0-for-3 with a hit by pitch, snapping his career-best 12-game hitting streak.

The Marlins have used as the leadoff hitter in half of their games but have also tried out rookie seven times and given shots to , and J.B. Shuck.
"That's [something] we talked about in Spring Training," Mattingly said. "We didn't really know where to go with it. I don't think that anyone's said, 'That should be my spot.' J.T., we're hitting him there tonight, but really, he's one of our better hitters. Is that the best spot? I don't know.
"I think it's hard, and we've talked to analytics about how to put a lineup together, and they put this combination of guys together and things like that, and I don't think they necessarily have answers either. I think we continue to battle every night with an expectation to win and find a way to do that. You just keep doing that every day, and that works itself out."

Beyond just run production, Mattingly looks at how batters take their at-bats, especially in tandem with the players abutting them in the order. Because the Marlins can't rely on home runs for offense -- they rank last in the Majors with 24 after a pair on Saturday -- Mattingly would like to find combinations of players who can run or hit-and-run together to increase the lineup's versatility.
Ideally, Mattingly said he would like to find a consistent order this season, but first comes finding that consistent production.