Why is it so difficult to predict a team's batting order on any given night? I realize that baseball managers have positional platoons, roster turnover, and assorted injuries to deal with, but can't these dudes just pick an order and stick with it? The good folks over at Baseball Reference have handy-dandy batting order pages for each team and each season, so I ran some numbers on the permutations and combinations. I disregarded the pitcher slot so I just counted the 8 gents who batted in NL parks and the 9 gents who batted in the AL parks. Turns out the average team this season has used about 87 different batting orders over the course of about 118 games. Still, one team is keeping it real simple: the Phillies have used just 57 different permutations on the year, and they've used their most common order 19 times.
Manager Charlie Manuel has penciled in pretty much the same top five batters for most of the season: Rollins, Victorino, Utley, Howard, and Burrell, and for good reason. These guys can mash, and they've stayed pretty healthy. Outfielders Geoff Jenkins and Jayson Werth have platooned in right field and the sixth spot, third baseman Pedro Feliz has been chilling in the seventh slot, and catchers Carlos Ruiz and Chris Coste have done their duty at eight. The Phillies are second in the NL with 4.90 runs per game. The question is: do the Phillies score well because they use the same lineup day in and day out or does Charlie Manuel pencil in the same lineup because the Phillies score well? I have no idea.
Other notable facts: the Brewers have used just 62 different batting orders on the year but no one order more than 10 times. The hapless Royals have not used a single batting order more than 3 times while scoring a measly 4.2 runs per game. Trey Hillman has worn through enough whiteout to keep Michael Nesmith wearing gold-plated wool hats for years.