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The myth of "Torii Hunter, Middle-of-the-Order Hitter"

Tim MacMahon has a blog post up on Evan Grant's item this morning on Michael Young's struggles in the #3 spot.

The great Evan Grant presented strong statistical evidence that Michael Young isn't best suited for the No. 3 spot in the lineup.

Ron Washington says Young hits third because he's the best hitter on the team. Not like Washington has a lot of other options.

Who would be a better fit than Young in that prime slot? Marlon Byrd? Hank Blalock once he gets healthy? Maybe Torii Hunter is the long-term solution.

You guys are probably sick of me talking about Hunter, but's what Grant says about the #3 spot:

Among the 42 major leaguers with at least 500 at-bats in the third spot since 2004, Young's on-base-plus-slugging percentage, a good gauge of overall offensive impact, is .744. It ranks 40th of 42. Only Geoff Jenkins (.742), since moved out of the spot, and Jose Guillen (.740) rank lower.

Torii Hunter, who has spent his entire career in a pretty good hitter's park is a career .271/.324/.471 hitter, good for a 795 OPS...not much better than Young's numbers in the #3 hole. Meanwhile, the major league average in 2007 for all hitters in the #3 slot is .284/.366/.461, a much better line than what Hunter has averaged in his career.

And he's 32 right now, so he's at the age where you'd expect to see those numbers start declining.

I'm not trying to pick on MacMahon here, because there are tons of people doing the same thing, just penciling Torii Hunter into the middle of the lineup as if he'd be an asset there. But he is simply not a good enough hitter to be hitting 3-4-5 in a quality lineup. If you want to pay Hunter the $15 million per year it will take to sign him, you should do it with the understanding that he needs to be hitting 6th or 7th in the lineup.