Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Could Nolan Reimold or Luke Scott Play First?

This comment under my Luke Scott post got me thinking...

Replace Atkins with Pie and that lineup is a thing of beauty. It would go


No consecutive batters from the same side. Man I wish Trembley would let Reimold or Scott play 1st.


First, I hadn't realized how well balanced the handedness was in my sample lineup.

But really it got me thinking about first base. Why couldn't Nolan Reimold or Luke Scott play first on a regular basis? You could still sub in Atkins to add flexibility and give Reimold his reps in left. But replacing Atkins with Pie would give the O's the best offensive lineup.

CHONE Projections for the players involved:

Atkins      .739
Reimold     .832
Scott       .808
Pie         .767

Even Pie is projected to be a significantly better hitter than Garret Atkins. And even if we assume average fielding from Reimold in left, Pie is a big upgrade with the glove.

Reimold and Scott would both be big offensive upgrades over Atkins but how big is the difference in their defense? For his career at first base, his UZR is -6.3. That's only over 708+ innings and is a bit of a small sample size. We'll bump him up to -.3 UZR and give him the benefit of the doubt.

Now, we can measure this in terms of WAR. How badly would Scott or Reimold have to play at first to offset the offense they bring to the table. Plugging some values into the WAR spreadsheet, this is what I came up with. (I am assuming all will be equal baserunners.)

Scott     -19.0
Reimold   -26.0

The worst defensive first baseman (of regulars) in baseball last year was Billy Butler. His UZR was -7.4. You will occasionally see a guy have a season with -16, -18 UZR (Mike Jacobs had a -19.4 UZR in 2008) but it would be virtually impossible for Scott or (especially) Reimold to play first base so badly that they would offset their much improved bats.

The best choice would be to make Scott the everyday first baseman, rotate Pie and Reimold through LF/CF/DH with Adam Jones and bring Atkins off the bench.

But that's not happening.

1 comment:

math_geek said...

Wow... My comment inspired a blog post. How exciting!

I do have one question though. Wouldn't these calculations be comparing (Pie's fielding in LF, Luke/Reimold's fielding at 1st, Pie's offense) with (Reimold's fielding in Left, Atkins' fielding at 1st, and Atkins' offense)? That can be done though, adjusting for playing time by using the CHONE projections for Replacement level (or AB or Innings for that matter) to stabilize the projections. My 18.9 replacement normalization is the equivalent of 500 innings.

Pie's Fielding = 8/13*18.9 = +11.6 runs as a fielder per 500 innings
Pie's Hitting = +2.4/14*18.9= +3.5 runs as a hitter
Reimold's fielding in Left mantained at +0 per your assumption.
Atkins' Fielding = +3.1 using above method
Atkins' hitting = -2.0 using above method.

So then we have that Reimold/Scott would have to field 1st at 3.1-2.0-3.5-11.6 = -14 UZR for the Atkins 1B strategy to be better than the Reimold/Scott strategy. Not as stark as your calculations, but I'd still be shocked if Reimold or Scott actually fielded 1B that poorly.