In the Royals first spring training game yesterday, former first overall pick and top prospect Alex Gordon was in the lineup in the 7th spot. The commentators on sports radio whb 810 stated that this is probably where he was going to start the season. I don't know if they were basing it on inside information from the manager, or if it was speculation. This does, however, pass for conventional wisdom. Start the rookie out lower in the lineup so that there is no pressure on him.
I'm just not sure if it is a valid point. Presumably, if Alex Gordon is routinely hitting in the 7th spot, it is because the "when healthy" regular lineup will be 1) CF DeJesus; 2) 2B Grudzielanek; 3) RF Teahen; 4) DH Sweeney; 5) LF Emil Brown; and 6) 1B Ryan Shealy. Now, I have no problem with the first 4 in the batting order, with the big assumption that Sweeney is healthy. But if Gordon is as good as all evidence is indicating, based on his minor league numbers, college career, draft status, and ranking in publications like Baseball America, then he is a better hitter than both Emil Brown and Ryan Shealy . . . right now.
The Royals are clearly not the Yankees, and do not have a lineup full of proven stars. If he is the better hitter, then I think he should be in the 5 spot from the start. It will be moot in a few months when he moves that direction, but I do not see the benefit of starting him off in between the two aforementioned hitters, and the strikeout machines that are John Buck and Angel Berroa.