Thursday, June 17, 2010

Helton Hitting in a Mile-High 'Hole'

Ageless Rockies slugger Todd Helton, he of the similarly ageless goatee, has thrived in the #2 spot in the batting order.

Helton apparently still has to get used to calling his slot "the two-hole," however.

Writes the Denver Post:

Todd Helton has hit well in the two hole — 8-for-20 through Tuesday — but he's hoping his time there is short. Said Helton, when asked if he liked the two hole: "I love Tulo."

Tulo is, of course, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. You'd think Helton might find it peculiar for a beat writer to ask him if he "likes" his teammate, like it's a junior high girl asking a junior high boy if he "likes" her friend. But maybe that's how things work in wacky Denver.

Back to the two-hole. Off the top of my I ever do any actual research here? seems as though the second slot in the lineup is the only one with "hole" in the nickname.

Hitting first is, of course, leadoff. (Recently, Jose Reyes referred to hitting first as his "house" after a stint at hitting third. "As soon as I went back to leadoff, it clicked for me," Reyes told the NY Times. "That’s my house there."

Batting third is simply batting third--you're the best hitter on your team, and your slot in the order doesn't need some cute nickname in place of the regal third.

Unlike the cleanup guy behind you.

Fifth is fifth ("cleaning up after the cleanup guy" never quite caught on), and sixth is simply sixth.

If ever there was a faceless spot in the order, it's seventh. You don't get on base, you're not a great hitter, you're not even a good hitter and you don't hit for power, but you don't suck enough to hit eighth.

Why does hitting second get "two-hole"?

Holes are, of course, not unique to baseball. If you're due up after the guy who is on deck, you're in the hole. Wunderkind hurler Stephen Strasburg had some trouble with a hole on the mound at Cleveland's Regressive Field--as have Metsies Santana and Niese this week.

My guess is that the second spot in the order is still living down its impotent past, when it was manned by choking up, slap-hitting Felix Millan types whose main focus was hitting a weak grounder to second so that the leadoff flyer could motor to second and get ready for the boppers to bring him home.

These days, the two guy is expected to hit with some pop--he's no longer stuck in some strength-sapping hole. Witness Helton--as well as his teammate Jason "Yes, I'm still drawing a Major League Baseball salary" Giambi.

Notes that same Denver Post in late May:

Jason Giambi in the two hole? The Giambino? The proud owner of 410 major league home runs and 1,335 big-league ribbies?

That's the guy.


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