According to an article written by By F. C. LANE entitled “What Are The Odds“; without paying any attention as to how they arrived at the various bases the odds of scoring from first, second and third, are roughly as follows: from first base, 22.19%; from second, 42.77%; from third, 61.54%.

Do you have an effective strategy to build your baseball lineup to score runs?

New York Yankees Lineup Card

A major key to winning baseball games consistently is having an effective lineup strategy.  This article will share 7 tips you can use right now to build your lineups for any team to enhance your chances of winning.

To make it easier to remember, they spell out the word L-I-N-E-U-P-S

  • Leather
  • Instant runs
  • New base runners
  • Edge the base path
  • Understand your opposing pitcher
  • Pinch hitters – flexibility
  • Speed Kills


See Blog “Is Your Lineup Giving Up 28 Outs or 27?

Instant Runs

It’s the fastest way to score in baseball, the home run.  Even teams built for speed should have at least one true power in their lineup.  Considering your lineup will typically turn over about 4 times a game, it’s fairly safe to place your best home run slugger anywhere from number 3-6 in the lineup to ensure they will get enough cracks at putting you on the board in an instant, especially with good on-base percentage batter’s in front of them to bring them across the plate too as an added benefit of the long ball.

Though the odds of hitting a home run are 1 in 35.26 compared a double of 1 in 21.14 or a single of 1 in 6.44, what needs to be considered are the odds are of hitting a single and double within 2 outs (assuming a speed burner is the lead runner).  Thus there’s quite a bit to factor that needs to happen compared to hitting a home run such as what if the lead runner who reached based via the single or double was picked off or the single after the double was merely an infield hit, etc.  That’s what’s nice about the long ball, it happens in an instant, thus simple and very effective.

New Base Runners

Moneyball.  Get as many on-base percentage guys as you can in your baseball lineup.  Think walks.  They the poor man’s single that seems to merely make a whimper, but seems to score more times than not.  Consider this: if Chicago White Sox 2012 Adam Dunn’s walks were counted as singles, his batting average would have been .334 instead of his actual paltry .204.

Edge the Base Path

Even the speediest of base runners aren’t considered to be “in scoring position” until they are on second or third base.  That’s because it typically takes more than a single for them to score from first base.  Though you “can’t steal first”, you can steal second, third, or home.  Thus having some base stealers in your lineup are key, though just as important are those that excel at sacrificing their at-bats for the sake of edging base runners to the next base through a bunt or fly ball.  One day, a runner that intentionally grounds the ball out to the right side of the infield to advance a runner from second or third may be scored as a sacrifice too.  I think it should since it serves the same purpose intended by a bunt or deep fly ball out.  Meanwhile be sure to have at least 2 good base stealers and 2 good bunters positioned after good on-base percentage batters in your lineup.

Understand Your Opposing Pitcher

Okay, so lefty/righty has been used for decades now, and frankly it’s over blown when looking at most stats.  That’s another topic for another day.  Here’s a few ideas on this important point.

  • If they surrender the long ball, yet not much else, then stack your lineup with good on-base percentage batters.
  • Are they a strikeout artist?  Then paint your lineup with the long ball hitters.
  • Do they have a tendency to walk a lot of batters?  Get those edge hitters in the lineup to move them along into scoring position
  • How about the pitcher that gives up a lot of hits, but keeps the ball in the park?  Don’t fight it, by adding power hitters (typically with marginal batting averages).  Make sure your lineup is chalk full of good, high batting average hitters to keep the line moving.
  • Consider if the pitcher is a weak fielder, let alone the rest of the team.  Then have players in your lineup that make contact and/or can bunt to put the ball in play more often.  As covered in a prior post “Is Your Lineup Giving Up 28 Outs or 27?”, that 1 error could make the difference between winning and losing.

Pinch Hitters

One of the best ways to think of your lineup is beyond the 9 batters.  Your bench is essential to bringing up the right hitter at the right time in the game.  Today’s game is so specialized with relievers sometimes it’s hard to have all the right hitters on the bench to face a bullpen.  Though it’s always a good idea to have a good power hitter (doubles/home run) on your bench, a good on-base percentage batter, a reliable bunter, and slightly off-topic one excellent fielder as a late inning replacement for that great hitter/subpar fielder when/if you deem necessary.

Speed Kills

There are those games where a home run changes the entire complexion.  Then there are those games where a speed burner simply reaches first base and throws off the entire rhythm of the game for the opposing team.  Get those base stealers and great base runners in your lineup in droves as much as possible.  I like to think of them like wide receivers with great “yards after the catch” ability.  Whenever you can advance base runners without needing to do so via a hit, naturally your odds to score those runners increase quite a bit.

In 1974, Charlie Finley, former owner of the Oakland Athletics signed sprinter Herb Washington to be the official pinch runner.  It wasn’t the greatest idea in the world as Herb wasn’t a baseball player; he was a sprinter from Michigan State.  Herb never had a plate appearance; he had 29 stolen bases that season and 29 runs scored.  These results were marred a bit by the 16 times he was caught stealing.  Yet the Athletics did win the World Series that season, so it wasn’t a total bust by any stretch.

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Here’s a Baseball Classics 2012 Milwaukee Brewers batting order lineup I put together to face strikeout artist 2012 Washington Nationals Stephen Strasburg who doesn’t give up much besides the walk: (top 4 hitters upper row from left to right, followed by bottom 4 hitters)

2012 Brewers Lineup

Note this lineup matches up as well as possible against the mighty Strasburg by further taking advantage of getting on base via the walk and has home run power to provide instant runs.

Naturally even the greatest of baseball lineups like the 1927 deemed “Murderers Row” don’t guarantee a win.  Though of course they sure increase the odds to win.  What are your most effective tips and strategies when building your baseball lineups for your baseball board games play?