During the 2019 Houston Astros regular season, it was common to see outfielder George Springer of New Britain, CT hit leadoff and Jose Altuve of Puerto Cabello, Venezuela hit second. Springer batted first in 119 regular season games for the Astros and Altuve was batting second in 106 games.
For the first three games between the Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Divisional Series, Springer once again batted first and Altuve second. Things changed after game three however, a 10-3 Tampa Bay upset win over Houston from Tropicana Field.
In game four, Springer continued to bat leadoff, but Astros manager A.J. Hinch of Waverly, IA mixed things up after the Astros touchdown loss. He moved Brantley of Bellevue, WA up from third to second, and moved Altuve down from second to third.
In game four of the series between the Astros and Rays, a 4-1 Rays win, Brantley did not collect a hit in four at bats. Altuve meanwhile had one hit and one walk in five plate appearances.
For the fifth and deciding game of the American League Divisional Series, Hinch once again placed Altuve in the third slot and Brantley in the second slot. With Gerrit Cole of Newport Beach, CA being dominant on the mound (10 strikeouts compared to two walks and only two hits and one earned run allowed over eight masterful innings), the Astros did not need to produce much offensively to get the win in the five game series.
However Brantley and Altuve both had productive outings in the American League Divisional Series deciding game. They each had two hits, and in the eighth inning had back-to-back home runs off of Rays relief pitcher Emilio Pagan.
It will now be interesting to see what Hinch decides to do for the Astros seven game series in the American League Championship Series which starts Saturday against the New York Yankees at Minute Maid Park. Whatever lineup Hinch decides to put out will be dangerous. The Astros’ 920 runs scored in 2019 were the third most in Major League Baseball.