What will LSU baseball batting order look like this season?
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Question of the Day: Friday, Feb. 16
It’s opening night at Alex Box Stadium as LSU opens a three-game series against Notre Dame. And when baseball season starts, the same question always pops up.
What will LSU’s batting order be this season?
A batting order is subject to the ebbs and flows of the season, but here is what Tigers coach Paul Mainieri will be rolling out Friday night.
#LSU lineup for Friday per Paul Mainieri:
SS Josh Smith
1B Nick Webre
RF Antoine Duplantis
CF Zach Watson
LF Daniel Cabrera
C Bryce Jordan
DH Beau Jordan
3B Jake Slaughter
2B Brandt Broussard
SP: Caleb Gilbert
— Nick Suss (@nicksuss) February 15, 2018
There are three newcomers in that lineup — Webre, Cabrera and Broussard.
Smith takes over the leadoff spot not because he’s the fastest guy on the team, but because he’s the best at getting on base. The sophomore is the only returning starter who had an on-base percentage better than .400 last season.
“I like having a guy who can lead off that can hit a ball out of the park,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “I think if you look back through the years, our leadoff guy is not only a guy who can get on base but can maybe even lead off the game with an extra-base hit. Josh has power, as he demonstrated in Omaha against Oregon State. But he also has a good eye and is tough to strike out. I think Josh can do a really good job in the leadoff spot.”
Smith did get some experience in the spot last year, batting leadoff in four games. Kramer Robertson (48 games) and Cole Freeman (17) had the first at-bat in the bulk of LSU’s games.
Watson, who hit in six different spots last season, will be asked to fill Greg Deichmann’s void as LSU’s cleanup man. The center fielder is more than capable. He led LSU in hitting last year with a .317 batting average and was second behind Deichmann with a .507 slugging percentage.
The bottom of the order will be susceptible to changes.
Bryce Jordan opens the season as LSU’s catcher, but he will be moved to first base when junior college transfer Hunter Feduccia is able to play again. Feduccia broke a bone in his hand during preseason practices, but is not expected to miss much more time.
Jordan will platoon with Nick Coomes at catcher until Feduccia is healthy. At that point, Webre is expected to start at DH, replacing Bryce Jordan’s twin brother Beau.
Broussard will platoon with freshman Hal Hughes, whom Mainieri plans to use frequently as a late-inning defensive substitution. One other unexpected name in the second base mix? Relief pitcher Austin Bain, who has also practiced at the position in the preseason.
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