Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Excercises in Oriole Lineup Optimization

Just so we're clear, this post is NOT in response to last night's heartbreaking loss to Tampa. The creeping fatalism, once so identified with Red Sox fans, that has taken hold in Birdland will not breach the ramparts of Dempsey's Army. I so swear.

No, I started looking at this before the game began, when I looked at the lineup and saw that Dave Trembley had designated Miguel Tejada as our Opening Day cleanup hitter. That's right, the guy who hasn't ISO'd north of .200 since 2005, the man who has only slugged more than .450 once in the last three years (.455 last season).

So, I wanted to see how much that was hurting the team. So I went to the Baseball Musings Lineup Analysis site to check it out.

First, I entered last night's lineup with 2010 CHONE projections for the lineup:

Brian Roberts
Adam Jones
Nick Markakis
Miguel Tejada
Luke Scott
Matt Wieters
Felix Pie
Garrett Atkins
Cesar Izturis

This lineup is projected to produce an average of 5.128 runs per game or 831 runs over the course of the season.

Now, I entered the lineup I would like to see. (We'll forget about the personnel for a minute and just rearrange them...)

If you check in regularly,you know I have endorsed Luke Scott for cleanup hitter to start the season. I have framed this argument using slugging percentage or ISO but I think I need to break it down to more basic levels. Here's what I like in my cleanup hitters...With runners on base, I want him to hit the ball a long, long way, as far away from home plate as possible so that the base runners have the most time possible to round the bases and reach said home plate. The further he hits it, the more likely the base runners are to score. He might even hit it over the fence. And I want him to do it more often than anyone else on the team. Silly me.

Right now, that man is Luke Scott.

Brian Roberts
Nick Markakis
Adam Jones
Luke Scott
Matt Wieters
Miguel Tejada
Felix Pie
Garrett Atkins
Cesar Izturis

How does this version shake out? This lineup would score 5.148 runs per game or 834 runs per season. That's only three extra runs per season. Better but probably not that significant.

What's the optimum lineup?

Roberts
Markakis
Scott
Wieters
Jones
Pie
Atkins
Tejada
Izturis

This lineup would score 5.157 runs per game or 835 over the course of a season, only one more run than my lineup.

However, what if we moved Luke Scott to first base and plugged in Nolan Reimold at first base?

The best lineup would look like this:

Roberts
Markakis
Wieters
Reimold
Jones
Tejada
Pie
Scott
Izturis

That lineup would produce 5.274 runs per game or 854 runs over the course of the season.

So as you can see, lineups are fairly overrated, at least in comparison to upgrading the talent which moves the needle much more.

As long as you keep Izturis in the 9th spot and Roberts in the 1st, you can jumble around the rest of the lineup with only two or three runs difference over the course of the season. Could that mean a win or two? Sure. But I think this difference could be made up for with luck on either side. But replacing Atkins with Reimold instantly adds 19 runs over the course of the season. Now that's a huge difference.

So maybe we Oriole fans should worry less about the order of the lineup and more about the personnel that comprises it.

3 comments:

Mike said...

How many runs would be saved by fielding two first basemen?

Heath said...

I don't get it...

erotik liseli said...
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