NL lineups: Sanchez, Freese hitting eighth

Updated: April 6, 2010, 2:58 PM ET
By Eric Karabell
Fantasy baseball owners should always pay close attention to the construction of major league lineups the first week of the season, because statistical expectations and results can be vastly different between, say, the No. 2 lineup spot and the eighth hole. I try not to overrate what I see on Opening Day because it's only one of 162 games, and many things will change, but lineup slots are interesting to note, and they can definitely play a part in a player's numbers.

In the National League, my eye was drawn to the No. 8 spot in the batting order for a few teams, because let's face it, managers don't place their top hitters in that spot. Two notable young players were buried there, but I don't think fantasy owners should regard it as a permanent thing. Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez and Cardinals third baseman David Freese can definitely hit, and both had decent springs at the plate, winning starting jobs that were hardly guaranteed to them. In a way, we shouldn't complain that they're hitting eighth, because at least they're playing. Each guy profiles nicely, though, better than the normal No. 8 hitter. After all, National League No. 8 hitters batted .253 with a .697 OPS in 2009, averaging 11 home runs.