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2011 Tampa Bay Rays Opening Day Lineup

The Tampa Bay Rays lineup for the season opener tonight has already been released:

Ben Zobrist 2B
Johnny Damon LF
Evan Longoria 3B
Manny Ramirez DH
Dan Johnson 1B
B.J. Upton CF
Matt Joyce RF
Reid Brignac SS
John Jaso C

Jeremy Guthrie is a right-handed pitcher, so it appears Maddon is taking a slightly different approach with his lineup than he did last season. John Jaso hit lead-off against righties many times last season, but Maddon is instead favoring the switch-hitting Ben Zobrist. Both Zobrist and Jaso get on base at an above-average clip, but Ben Zobrist is the better overall hitter and deserves to be hitting higher in the lineup.

Also, Maddon is showing that he believes Dan Johnson’s power from last season was no fluke, slotting him in at fifth in the lineup. Most projection systems are very optimistic about Johnson this season, and his numbers suggest he could break out and hit over 20 homeruns while batting around .250 and walking at a high rate.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the similar general format that Maddon uses when facing more right-handed pitchers. I’m not naive enough that I think he’ll use this same lineup against every right-handed pitcher – Maddon’s not nearly so predictable – but it’s a very good template of how he views the Rays talent at the moment.

Photographs by cstreet.us, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.