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Astros Hinch likes idea of Altuve, Springer at top of lineup

Reigning AL batting champ hit leadoff 78 times in 2014

By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com | @brianmctaggart

TAMPA, Fla. -- While manager A.J. Hinch continues to tinker with different lineup combinations, he spoke Saturday about the benefits of having All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve bat leadoff and high-flying right fielder George Springer hit behind him in the No. 2 hole.

Of course, the best argument for having Altuve and Springer hit at the top of the lineup is they would get maximum plate appearances. They hit first and second against the Yankees on Saturday at Steinbrenner Field.

Altuve hit first in the lineup 78 times last year and batted second 65 times, tying a club record for at-bats (660) in a season while winning the Major League batting title. Springer hit lower in the lineup in his debut last year, but will undoubtedly hit in a key spot this year.

"I like that combo," Hinch said.

Another benefit of Springer hitting second is that he figures to see more fastballs if Altuve is on base and the opposing pitcher is worried about him stealing bases. Altuve led the American League with 56 stolen bases last year.

"Hitting after Altuve, a lot of times it's an RBI situation, even with him on first base or if he steals second or steals third," Hinch said. "We need all of our spots to be very, very productive. The batting order, as fascinated as everybody is about it, it's one time through the order and then it's a little more random than people give credit.

"I think for [Springer] to hit in the first inning right behind Altuve, who does a pretty good job of getting on base, he's a real threat behind him to be put in a really good position. When the lineup rolls around with runners on base and the lineup flipping over, I'll take Altuve and Springer with RBI opportunities."

"Baseball statistics are like a girl in a bikini. They show a lot, but not everything." ...~Toby Harrah, 1983
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