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texasdave
05-22-2007, 02:42 PM
I wanted to kick around some numbers to see how much lineup construction mattered. I am neither math major nor a sabermetrician. I tried to take a logical approach to this. First off here are the numbers for the 2006 Reds by batting order. I looked at PA, OBP, SLG, and OPS.

ORIG PA OBP SLG OPS WA
1ST 769 0.360 0.399 0.759 583.7
2ND 753 0.339 0.377 0.716 539.1
3RD 737 0.326 0.476 0.802 591.1
4TH 715 0.344 0.482 0.826 590.6
5TH 697 0.349 0.409 0.758 528.3
6TH 682 0.383 0.527 0.910 620.6
7TH 669 0.348 0.477 0.825 551.9
8TH 649 0.326 0.431 0.757 491.3
9TH 625 0.233 0.306 0.539 336.9

TOTAL 6296 0.336 0.432 0.768 0.768

I then sorted this data by the three parameters (OBP/SLG/OPS) to see how much of a difference it made. First the sort by OPS.

OPS-H PA OBP SLG OPS WA OPS-L PA OBP SLG OPS WA
1ST 769 0.383 0.527 0.910 699.8 1ST 769 0.339 0.377 0.716 550.6
2ND 753 0.344 0.482 0.826 622.0 2ND 753 0.326 0.431 0.757 570.0
3RD 737 0.348 0.477 0.825 608.0 3RD 737 0.349 0.409 0.758 558.6
4TH 715 0.326 0.476 0.802 573.4 4TH 715 0.360 0.399 0.759 542.7
5TH 697 0.360 0.399 0.759 529.0 5TH 697 0.326 0.476 0.802 559.0
6TH 682 0.349 0.409 0.758 517.0 6TH 682 0.348 0.477 0.825 562.7
7TH 669 0.326 0.431 0.757 506.4 7TH 669 0.344 0.482 0.826 552.6
8TH 649 0.339 0.377 0.716 464.7 8TH 649 0.383 0.527 0.910 590.6
9TH 625 0.233 0.306 0.539 336.9 9TH 625 0.233 0.306 0.539 336.9

TOTAL 6296 0.771 TOTAL 6296 0.766

The OPS-H chart is to resemble the lineup as if you gave the highest OPS the at-bats of the first position in the lineup and so on down the line. OPS-L is the exact opposite. It gives the most at-bats to the batting order position with the lowest OPS. (The pitcher spot stayed the same in each sort). This process was repeated for both OBP and SLG.

OBP-H PA OBP SLG OPS WA OBP-L PA OBP SLG OPS WA
1ST 769 0.383 0.527 0.910 294.5 1ST 769 0.326 0.476 0.802 250.7
2ND 753 0.360 0.399 0.759 271.1 2ND 753 0.326 0.431 0.757 245.5
3RD 737 0.349 0.409 0.758 257.2 3RD 737 0.339 0.377 0.716 249.8
4TH 715 0.348 0.477 0.825 248.8 4TH 715 0.344 0.482 0.826 246.0
5TH 697 0.344 0.482 0.826 239.8 5TH 697 0.348 0.477 0.825 242.6
6TH 682 0.339 0.377 0.716 231.2 6TH 682 0.349 0.409 0.758 238.0
7TH 669 0.326 0.476 0.802 218.1 7TH 669 0.360 0.399 0.759 240.8
8TH 649 0.326 0.431 0.757 211.6 8TH 649 0.383 0.527 0.910 248.6
9TH 625 0.233 0.306 0.539 145.6 9TH 625 0.233 0.306 0.539 145.6

TOTAL 6296 0.336 TOTAL 6296 0.335

SLG-H PA OBP SLG OPS WA SLG-L PA OBP SLG OPS WA
1ST 769 0.383 0.527 0.910 405.3 1ST 769 0.339 0.377 0.716 289.9
2ND 753 0.344 0.482 0.826 362.9 2ND 753 0.360 0.399 0.759 300.4
3RD 737 0.348 0.477 0.825 351.5 3RD 737 0.349 0.409 0.758 301.4
4TH 715 0.326 0.476 0.802 340.3 4TH 715 0.326 0.431 0.757 308.2
5TH 697 0.326 0.431 0.757 300.4 5TH 697 0.326 0.476 0.802 331.8
6TH 682 0.349 0.409 0.758 278.9 6TH 682 0.348 0.477 0.825 325.3
7TH 669 0.360 0.399 0.759 266.9 7TH 669 0.344 0.482 0.826 322.5
8TH 649 0.339 0.377 0.716 244.7 8TH 649 0.383 0.527 0.910 342.0
9TH 625 0.233 0.306 0.539 191.3 9TH 625 0.233 0.306 0.539 191.3

TOTAL 6296 0.436 TOTAL 6296 0.431

Here is a comparison chart of all the different weighted-average sorts:

OBP SLG OPS
R-2006 0.336 0.432 0.768
Sort-OPS
OPS-H 0.771
OPS-L 0.768
SortOBP 0.336
OBP-H 0.335
OBP-L
Sort-SLG
SLG-H 0.436
SLG-L 0.431

I was surprised by how little difference it seemed to make. I expected much bigger variances. As can be seen the Reds team OPS in 2006 was .768. If you sorted the lineup by OPS the 'max' lineup had an OPS of .771. Only 3 points higher than the actual and only 5 points higher than the 'minimum' lineup. The results were equally close for the sorts by OBP and SLG.

I know this is not a perfect look at lineup construction. I tried to keep it logical and simple. But the results seem to show that the construction of a lineup matters little. If you want a better lineup, get better hitters.

Slyder
05-22-2007, 02:49 PM
I dispute that...

How can it show how Dunn does with an extra 50 at bats over the year cause instead of 6th or 7th he's hitting 2nd-4th every game?

One example.... Who would you rather bat more often over the season.... Adam Dunn, Norris Hopper, or Alex Gonzalez?

RichRed
05-22-2007, 02:55 PM
Somebody's lobbying to get back in ORG. ;)

Good post, texasdave. I think one of the keys is just having your best players in the lineup as much as possible (i.e., only the tiniest doses of Juan Castro).

For me, I just want to see the best hitters get the most ABs. That's why I cringe whenever Adam Dunn, for example, bats below, let's say, Jeff Conine or Norris Hopper.

RichRed
05-22-2007, 02:56 PM
One example.... Who would you rather bat more often over the season.... Adam Dunn, Norris Hopper, or Alex Gonzalez?

Right, Slyder, I didn't see your post before I made mine but I agree.

Screwball
05-22-2007, 03:24 PM
For me, I just want to see the best hitters get the most ABs. That's why I cringe whenever Adam Dunn, for example, bats below, let's say, Jeff Conine or Norris Hopper.

Yeah, it's always beneficial to have your best hitters getting the most ABs. But sometimes with having guys like Adam Dunn batting 6th, you have an enforcer-type for the 2nd, 4th, 6th, etc. innings. Dunn may not get as many ABs, but it does keep the pressure on the opposing pitcher every innings.

Also, Dunn seems to thrive in the 6th spot as opposed to, say, the 3rd spot in the lineup...

In 13 GS, here's AD's line in the 3 hole: .273/.298/.382/.680 with 1 HR and 4 RBI.
In 12 GS, here's ADs line in the 6 hole: .262/.392/.667/1.059 with 5 HRs and 8 RBI.

Also interesting, though, is that Dunn does really well in the 2 spot as well, mostly becauase that's where he was when he began the season on fire...

.316/.519/.842/1.361 with 3HRs and 5 RBI.

Slyder
05-22-2007, 03:26 PM
Yeah, it's always beneficial to have your best hitters getting the most ABs. But sometimes with having guys like Adam Dunn batting 6th, you have an enforcer-type for the 2nd, 4th, 6th, etc. innings. Dunn may not get as many ABs, but it does keep the pressure on the opposing pitcher every innings.

Also, Dunn seems to thrive in the 6th spot as opposed to, say, the 3rd spot in the lineup...

In 13 GS, here's AD's line in the 3 hole: .273/.298/.382/.680 with 1 HR and 4 RBI.
In 12 GS, here's ADs line in the 6 hole: .262/.392/.667/1.059 with 5 HRs and 8 RBI.

Also interesting, though, is that Dunn does really well in the 2 spot as well, mostly becauase that's where he was when he began the season on fire...

.316/.519/.842/1.361 with 3HRs and 5 RBI.

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/players/splits?statsId=6763&type=batting3

Please note his 3 yr numbers hitting 2nd. Its more than just this year that he's killed the ball there.

Screwball
05-22-2007, 03:45 PM
http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/players/splits?statsId=6763&type=batting3

Please note his 3 yr numbers hitting 2nd. Its more than just this year that he's killed the ball there.

Yes, I've seen the numbers. I was a big proponent of Dunn batting 2nd and was happy to see Narron do it to begin the season. However, with Dunn being so ridiculously streaky, it's tough to keep him there when he goes into one of his patented nose-dives for 2 weeks. Seeing as how Dunn is, and always has done well in the 6 spot also, I'm not opposed to seeing him hit there. Although, when guys like Conine and Gonzo are hitting in front of him, it makes it a little tough to swallow, but now that EE is back up hopefully we'll see enough of that nonsense.

texasdave
05-22-2007, 03:48 PM
I acknowledge that this was just a cursory glimpse into lineup construction. But, even at that, I think it gives you a good idea that if a team makes a couple switches in the lineup they should not expect a huge difference in the number of runs scored.

Look at it a different way. Say the Reds have a below average hitter in the two hole and have banished AD to the sixth spot in the batting order. Further say they have done this for the entire season. Looking at the stats from 2006 one could expect the 2-hitter to get around 750 PA. And the 6-hitter to get around 680 PA. One more stipulation is that the below average hitter has an OPS of around .700. And AD has a solid season with an OPS of about .900. We can look at the weighted average of those two situations - with AD hitting 6th and then with AD hitting 2nd. Here is what that would look like.

PA OPS WA
2nd 750 0.700 525.000
6th 680 0.900 612.000

1430 0.795
PA OPS WA
2nd 750 0.900 675.000
6th 680 0.700 476.000

1430 0.805

As expected the combined OPS for those two hitters is better with Adam batting 2nd. However, notice that it is not a huge amount. The gain was 10 points of OPS. That is the gain for those two spots alone.
So say the Reds team average OPS was .750. If they left the other 7 spots in the batting order the same and only made that switch their team average OPS would only jump to about .752. That 10 point gain for two positions spread over 9 positions would be 10 x 2/9. (I think). It just is not going to make that big of a deal. Yes you would make that switch because you want to get every advantage you can. Just don't expect that switch alone to work miracles.

Screwball
05-22-2007, 04:00 PM
It just is not going to make that big of a deal. Yes you would make that switch because you want to get every advantage you can. Just don't expect that switch alone to work miracles.

That's exactly right, texas. GAC actually posted some really good articles a while back on this very same topic. They all pretty much said lineup construction, in the whole scheme of things, doesn't really matter save for a few runs a year (maybe a win or two a year). That's why I find it so amusing to read the beginning of the every game thread with everybody whining and moaning about the line-up Narron came up with. It's even funnier when that same line-up puts a 10 spot up on the scoreboard.

Slyder
05-22-2007, 04:13 PM
The manager is suppose to put people in a situation to succeed not fail. A lot of Narron's lineups leave us hoping Castro, Moeller, etc get the big hits while Griffey, Dunn, Phillips are avoided when possible because they are sandwhiched by lesser players.

If there is a variance over the course of an entire season of just 5 games, we would have been the NL Central Champ not the Cards. 4 games would have meant the Cards would have had to make up a game giving them a chance to only tie and then have to play another game vs us.

Over the course of the season though crappy lineups more often than not are going to lead to crappy results.

RichRed
05-22-2007, 04:13 PM
That's exactly right, texas. GAC actually posted some really good articles a while back on this very same topic. They all pretty much said lineup construction, in the whole scheme of things, doesn't really matter save for a few runs a year (maybe a win or two a year). That's why I find it so amusing to read the beginning of the every game thread with everybody whining and moaning about the line-up Narron came up with. It's even funnier when that same line-up puts a 10 spot up on the scoreboard.

Could be the difference between making the playoffs and not.

Screwball
05-22-2007, 04:27 PM
Could be the difference between making the playoffs and not.

Possibly, but not likely, especially with the Reds.

Over the course of the season though crappy lineups more often than not are going to lead to crappy results.

I'm assuming you're referring to Narron's "crappy lineups" leading to "crappy results." Well, so far this season the Reds are 11th in all of baseball in runs scored with 206. They are tied for 6th in the NL with the Cubs in RS. That doesn't exactly scream crappy results to me.

Interestingly, the St. Louis Cardinals are dead last in runs scored with 143. Are we to assume that LaRussa, manager of the most potent lineup the NL had the last few years, all of the sudden doesn't know how to fill out of a lineup card? I mean, the results speak for themselves, don't they?

05-22-2007, 04:49 PM
To construct an ideal lineup requires an individual to have a level of foresight that is just not possible. Texasdave's analysis looks at the data of what has happened and, with 100% perfect hindsight, what would have been the best possible outcome, provided that the players performed exactly as they did. Except each player's performance is a composite of how they performed by batting in various spots in the lineup - I don't know if Dave's analysis factors that in.

The problem, I feel, is projecting how each individual player will perform in the future given the exact spot of the lineup in which each player will bat. Some players, such as Dunn or Griffey, it's easier to be more accurate because they have a large amount of past performance data. Other players, such as Hamilton or Votto in the future, not as much. I don't know where Hamilton's best spot is - in fact, I'm not sure exactly what general area of the lineup he should bat in.

Perhaps this is where the luck factor enters. Luck being the manager has figured out the best spot in the lineup for each player.

44Magnum
05-22-2007, 04:59 PM
Impressive stats.

texasdave
05-22-2007, 05:10 PM
It would be impossible for me to know exactly how each player would perform in each lineup position. I will admit that. In one sense that is important and another it isn't. What I was attempting to show is that even if you go to both extremes - all your better hitters at the top or all your better hitters at the bottom - the effects aren't that great.
Now maybe there is some magic lineup out there where everyone hits in their optimum batting position. (BTW, if it was out there Jerry would have found it because he sure loves to juggle his lineup) Even using that magic lineup would not make a big diffence, IMO. But since every run is important there certainly isn't any harm in looking for it.

hebroncougar
05-22-2007, 05:39 PM
Yeah, but you can't hit back to back LH in innings 1-7, if the other team can bring in LH specialist against them in the eighth can you? ;)