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mlbfan30
03-03-2008, 06:16 PM
This is a great article and helps explain why I'm oppose to guys like Hopper hitting leadoff, and why someone like Votto would be a good (but not ideal) choice.

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=7201

Lineupology

by Joe Sheehan
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From the inbox:

ďYou still work for Baseball Prospectus, right?Ē

Tone aside, itís a fair point. I didnít write for the baseball site at all last week, although I did put up a basketball article, do a bunch of radio and TV spots, and make a trip to Indianapolis to catch Butlerís win over Wright State and meet a bunch of readers at Friday nightís event in downtown Indy. Will Carroll and I talk about this a lot, the fact that as BPís profile has grown, we deliver our content in a greater variety of ways while putting more time into it, although we write less. Add in the work that the great staff at Plume is doing getting Steven, Christina, Jay, myself, and all the authors of Baseball Prospectus 2008 media opportunities, and March is shaping up to be a whirlwind.

With all that said, not writing is a problem, and not just because I have a contract. No, what happens is half-executed ideas pile up in a file, and when you sit down to try and work one into shape, you end up flitting around from one to another, getting frustrated and blocked, and punting the whole process. Thatís what happened to me last week; I didnít have much time available for writing, and what time I did have was unproductive.

See, I spent a lot of time last week thinking about lineups. Thereís no doubt that it was motivated in part by the Strat-O-Matic tournament I played in over the weekend and the time I was putting into it. Iíve made the argument beforeóOK, I stole it from Bill Jamesóthat baseball simulations are teaching tools for baseball, and Strat taught me so much about how an offense works. Because the skill setsóthe cardsóare fixed elements, you can move them around in a variety of ways, and eventually discover which ordering is optimal. Do thisÖ what have I played, maybe 10,000 games of Strat? Well, a lot, and long before that many games, the principles of effective lineup construction become a part of your intuition.

We used to sit around at tournaments, pass each othersí teams around, and do ďlineupectomies,Ē searching for the best ordering of players, considering things like platoon differentials, tactical issues, the relationship between OBP and SLG. I ported the idea to BP back in our prehistory and learned two things: ďLineupectomyĒ was a misnomer, as ď-ectomyĒ means ďremoval,Ē loosely speaking; and that it was harder to do this with real baseball teams rather than Strat cards, but still a worthwhile exercise.

The thing is, lineups arenít supposed to matter, with the difference between the best and worst reasonable ordering of players worth maybe a win a year. That conclusion has never set well with me, not when I see teams routinely doom their best hitters to batting behind hitters with .330 OBPs, and more critcially, perfectly predictable .330 OBPs. The guidelines for an effective lineup are simple, and they havenít changed in about 35 years, since offensive levels came back out of their valley:

* Get your best hitters the most plate appearances
* Guys who get on base should bat in front of guys who hit for power
* Within reason, separate same-side hitters, to make life hard for platoon-centric managers

Thatís pretty much it. There are a number of less-important guidelines, some of which run counter to conventional managerial wisdom. For example, just about everyone inside baseball thinks speed is one of the most important qualities for a leadoff batter. In fact, because middle-of-the-lineup batters are generally the ones most likely to hit the ball a long way, speed isnít that critical. Add in that the cost/benefit of a stolen-base attempt is worst when a good hitter is at the plateóthe out costs more, the base means lessóand speed is actually not that important in the top two lineup spots. Speed and stolen-base attempts both have more value in the fifth and sixth spots, in front of the worst batters in the seventh through ninth slots, who are more likely to make outs and less likely to pick up extra-base hits.

Now, you canít always put the sabermetrically-optimal lineup on the field, because players arenít Strat cards, and itís worth it to take that into consideration in running a real team. The additional value of swapping, say, the #3 and #4 hitters is often dwarfed by the headaches it may cause with the players and the media. There are other examples, but it is entirely reasonable, when the values are close, to take human factors into consideration.

Many calls, however, arenít close. The Cubs, to pick one example, have the potential for a disastrous lineup in play. A couple of weeks ago, Lou Piniella indicated that he would lead off with Alfonso Soriano and Ryan Theriot, who possess two of the lowest projected OBPs in the Cubs lineup, while batting Kosuke Fukudome fifth. It would be hard to assemble a worse lineup given the talent available; Soriano is simply not a leadoff hitter, possessing the power and OBP of a #4 batter. Theriot, despite 28 steals last season, is at best a #7 batter, and best-suited for eighth. Fukudome will hit for average, OBP, and doubles power, and is a good #2 or #3 hitter depending on the players around him. To Piniellaís credit, he has been batting Fukudome in the #3 spot so far in the Cactus League. Then again, it just puts the lack of understanding into relief; batting Theriot second and Fukudome third is one of those things that is a bit hard to make sense of.

What has happened is teams, and even managers such as Lou Piniella, have been trained to regard secondary offensive characteristics as more important than primary ones. Speed is a secondary offensive characteristic, and it always has been. Contact rate is a secondary characteristic. The primary ones are the ability to get on base and the ability to hit for power. How well a player does those two things should determine his lineup spot.

However, on the field you can see speed and you canít really see OBP, so speed gets elevated above OBP, to the detriment of a team. Play Strat, though, and itís the opposite: OBP is capitalized and bolded, speed is tucked into a couple of spots atop the card, and the cards donít run. Play some games, and you come to realize quickly that getting the guys on base is much, much more important than how quickly they move when they get there.

Remember, the vaunted secondary effects of speed, the ones that would be present in a real baseball game, have been shown to be illusory at best. Batters hit poorly when a steal is attempted while theyíre up, for one, and despite all of the talk about how speed messes with the defense, thereís no research that shows it to be true. Thereís no evidence that teams with more speed perform better than ones with less, and in fact, speed has often been a contraindicator of success (speed teams often lack the primary characteristics).

This isnít to dismiss the value of speed, but to put in its place. When constructing a lineup, you have to focus on the primary characteristics and the guiding principles first, then use things like relative speed to break ties.

Elsewhere, Tony La Russa is again considering batting his pitcher eighth in the regular season, a tactic he employed in 1998 and again in 2007. Now, very smart people have looked at this and determined that it makes some sense. Iíll quote Dave Studeman quoting an unnamed contributor in The Book by Tom Tango, Mitchell Lichtman, and Andy Dolphin (because Iím in an airport bar in Indianapolis, 700 miles from my copy): ďThe second leadoff hitter theory exists. You can put your pitcher in the eighth slot and gain a couple of extra runs per year.Ē Iím of the opinion that the models canít account for the tactical disadvantages of moving the pitcher up in the lineup. We know that the pitcherís spot drives decision-makingónot strategy, but the kind of autoplay an eight-year-old could masteróin the NL. I have to think that the negative effect on the #7 batter, and of pushing the possibility of having to hit for the pitcher slightly earlier, would swamp the runs that show up in the simulators.

In any case, Iím not here to argue for or against the tactic. What I like is that Tony La Russa is at least trying something innovative, something different. If he hasnít quite alighted on the right answer, he is thinking about the problem, rather than pushing tab A into slot B. Innovation in the running of a 25-man roster is almost dead, so I appreciate any and all attempts to inject some life into it. I may not agree with LaRussaís conclusion, but I love to see a discussion like this. Itís Lineupology, and while itís for higher stakes than us Strat geeks played for at a Howard Johnsonís by Newark Airport 20 years ago, the idea is the same: given nine lineup spots, how do we get the most out of them?

Oh, I almost forgot the punchline. Dr. Rany Jazayerli, a dermatologist in the Chicago area who also writes a little, walked away with his first tournament title this weekend, besting the field in Indianapolis with an 11-2 closing kick. Congrats to Rany, one of my best friends and a terrific baseball mind.

Lou, thereís a tournament in Chicago in May, if youíd like to take Rany on. I guarantee he wonít have Ryan Theriot batting second.

reds2221
03-03-2008, 06:50 PM
Joe Sheehan (the author) is one of the people in the book fantasyland, and he's definatly a very inteligent person

BLEEDS
03-03-2008, 10:32 PM
Votto is my ideal #2 hitter. Patient, enough speed, HIGH OBP.

Keppinger is a distant 2nd.

Unfortunately we have Dusty Baker, who can't "see" OBP, but can see speed - and more importantly can look out on the field to see who is playing SS (and CF).

PEACE

-BLEEDS

NeilHamburger
03-04-2008, 12:32 AM
Here is my opening day lineup:

Keppinger
Votto
Griffey
Phillips
Dunn
Encarnacion
Bruce
Ross
Harang

jmac
03-04-2008, 12:46 AM
Here is my opening day lineup:

Keppinger
Votto
Griffey
Phillips
Dunn
Encarnacion
Bruce
Ross
Harang

That looks pretty good.
Doubt that it will be Dusty's though.

mlbfan30
03-04-2008, 01:18 AM
Here is my opening day lineup:

Keppinger
Votto
Griffey
Phillips
Dunn
Encarnacion
Bruce
Ross
Harang

I'd be fine with 1-2. Switching Keppenger/Votto probably does very little. However here is a minor reason why I'd take Votto. He'd get about 25 more PA and in those you would expect 1-2 more HR. Having power from that spot isn't horrible as long as it isn't misused. Votto is more of a doubles type hitter, and that will allow Keppenger to bat with more chances with RISP where a single can score a run. It also splits up L-R I can see the flipside where Votto's doubles allow Keppenger to score from 1st, so it doesn't matter too much.

I hate Phillips between Griffey and Dunn. I think Dunn should bat 3rd anyway, but with this lineup, here's the problem....
Phillips is Casey-like in GIDP. He hit into 45 in the past 2 years. Dunn doesn't really need RISP, and Phillips will wipe out the bases many many times. Instead of a 2-run HR, it becomes a solo shot. Also, Phillips is a low OBP guy with power himself. This will increase the chances Dunn bats with 0 men on, and he'd be hitting many solo HR. I think this has been a problem with why Dunn has barely hit over 100 RBI. The lineup has never been setup with high OBP guys in front of him. If Dunn is 3rd, then he has 2 high OBP guys in front of him, and that HR with a man on 1st becomes more likely, rather than 0 on. Dunn is going to hit 40 HR, and it would give the most value by trying to get as many men on base as possible.

This is why EE is a good choice at cleanup. He's a doubles hitter that can score guys from 1st, but also has a decent enough OBP for a guy like Griffey to drive him in.

BP would bat after Griffey, and that should be fine. Griffey doesn't run well, and with BP hitting 30 HR that doesn't matter. I think it's interesting with how Sheehan said speed later in the order helps. The reason is that lower order hitters won't have much power, so when a 7th/8th/9th guy bats, they won't get many extra base hits. BP's steals allow him to get into scoring position where a single scores him. That maximizes the value of singles lower in the order.

Lineup is...
Votto (L)
Keppinger (R)
Dunn (L)
Encarnacion (R)
Griffey (L)
Phillips (R)
Bruce (L)
Ross (R)

It's a perfect L-R lineup that maximizes the skillsets of each player to achieve the most runs possible. I don't see any flaws in this construction over any other configuration.

Slyder
03-04-2008, 09:43 AM
My lineup has remained pretty consistant the past couple years. Isnt the point of lineups to try and get your most dangerous hitters as many at bats as possible? This lineup maybe more suited for an AL game where you have the luxury of a DH. And a cavaet that Griffey doesnt want to bat anywhere but 3rd.

1 SS Keppinger (R)
2 LF Dunn (L) .388 obp hitting 2nd for his career and gives him legit protection with a healthy Griffey.
3 RF Griffey (L) Why break up the lefties when it might come into play once a game?
4 2b Phillips (R) Best power bat remaining
5 3b Encarcion (R)
6 1b Votto (L) If he shows he can hit at the major league level then you consider moving him up.
7 CF Freel/Hopper Cause some chaos on the basepaths and maybe make the pitcher make a mistake.
8 Catcher

If Griffey is willing to move.
1 SS/CF Keppinger (SS), Freel/Hopper (CF) Play your hottest hand.
2 SS/CF Keppinger (SS), Freel/Hopper (CF)
3 LF Dunn (L)
4 RF Griffey (L) Or swap the two if you want the righty hitting behind Dunn trying to goad some better pitches from a pitcher.
5 2b Phillips (R) I think this is his best spot with Griffey and Dunn seeing a lot of pitches ahead of him.
6 3b Encarcion (R)
7 1b Votto
8 Catcher

podgejeff_
03-04-2008, 11:23 AM
Question: if the overall lineup construction mantra is "Get your best hitters the most ABs", then wouldn't it be better to have your highest OPS hitter hit first every day (in our case Dunn)? Or is it based on the idea that you have your highest OBP hitters get the most ABs?

I understand the idea of having high OBP followed by high OPS and SLG, but going by that formula you have Adam Dunn getting less ABs than Ryan Freel (because of his speed or whatever).

BLEEDS
03-04-2008, 11:40 AM
BLEEDS OPTIMAL REDS LINEUP:

1 - Freel/Hopper/Bruce - slappy/slappy/GOD; the most speed on the team
2 - Votto - best OBP on the team outside of Dunn, Doubles hitter, Speed
3 - EE - best BA on the team, doubles hitter, enough speed
4 - Dunn - OBP, should have a guy in front of him most every at bat, definitely the first. Batting him 5th is Idiocy. Rarely gets an AB in the first inning
5 - BP - Here's your Power guy with Low OBP and his ideal spot on the team
6 - Griffey - yep, that's right, he's batting 6th. Old Man in the Sea. Ideal. Never going to happen in real life.
7 - Keppinger - later lineup BA and contact hitter, can move BP/Griffey
8 - Valentin - power lefty Catcher

DUSTY BAKER IDEAL REDS LINEUP:

1 - Corey Patterson. WOW, is he fast. Look how fast he runs from the plate to the dugout.
2 - Gonzo/Castro. You don't want a guy clogging up the bases, Part DEUX!!!
3 - KGJ. He's a proven vet. He hit 40 Homeruns (in 2000)
4 - BP. Usually you bat your best guy 3rd, but we have KGJ still, and besides - GOT TO BREAK UP THE LEFTIES!!
5 - Dunn. Don't want him clogging up the bases early in the lineup. Or Late. Swing for the fences Big Guy!! Everytime you walk, you're running laps.
6 - EE. This is where your best Average Hitting guy belongs. Bottom of the 2nd inning.
7 - Votto. This is where your best OBP guy, doubles hitter, speed, patience, etc, belongs. So he can be pitched around.
8 - Catcher

All I need is a wristband - and a Lobotomy - and I could manage the Reds.

PEACE

-BLEEDS

RSNtransplant
03-04-2008, 11:58 AM
I'd be fine with 1-2. Switching Keppenger/Votto probably does very little. However here is a minor reason why I'd take Votto. He'd get about 25 more PA and in those you would expect 1-2 more HR. Having power from that spot isn't horrible as long as it isn't misused. Votto is more of a doubles type hitter, and that will allow Keppenger to bat with more chances with RISP where a single can score a run. It also splits up L-R I can see the flipside where Votto's doubles allow Keppenger to score from 1st, so it doesn't matter too much.

I hate Phillips between Griffey and Dunn. I think Dunn should bat 3rd anyway, but with this lineup, here's the problem....
Phillips is Casey-like in GIDP. He hit into 45 in the past 2 years. Dunn doesn't really need RISP, and Phillips will wipe out the bases many many times. Instead of a 2-run HR, it becomes a solo shot. Also, Phillips is a low OBP guy with power himself. This will increase the chances Dunn bats with 0 men on, and he'd be hitting many solo HR. I think this has been a problem with why Dunn has barely hit over 100 RBI. The lineup has never been setup with high OBP guys in front of him. If Dunn is 3rd, then he has 2 high OBP guys in front of him, and that HR with a man on 1st becomes more likely, rather than 0 on. Dunn is going to hit 40 HR, and it would give the most value by trying to get as many men on base as possible.

This is why EE is a good choice at cleanup. He's a doubles hitter that can score guys from 1st, but also has a decent enough OBP for a guy like Griffey to drive him in.

BP would bat after Griffey, and that should be fine. Griffey doesn't run well, and with BP hitting 30 HR that doesn't matter. I think it's interesting with how Sheehan said speed later in the order helps. The reason is that lower order hitters won't have much power, so when a 7th/8th/9th guy bats, they won't get many extra base hits. BP's steals allow him to get into scoring position where a single scores him. That maximizes the value of singles lower in the order.

Lineup is...
Votto (L)
Keppinger (R)
Dunn (L)
Encarnacion (R)
Griffey (L)
Phillips (R)
Bruce (L)
Ross (R)

It's a perfect L-R lineup that maximizes the skillsets of each player to achieve the most runs possible. I don't see any flaws in this construction over any other configuration.

Off all the line-up I think this one is smartest. Only thing I don't like is a Rookie slump hurting the leadoff spot, but if you consider swapping Votto and Bruce b/t 1 and 7 when either is slumping it would be a non-issue. You got a vs. LHP version to go along with this one?

RSNtransplant
03-04-2008, 12:15 PM
BLEEDS OPTIMAL REDS LINEUP:


7 - Keppinger - later lineup BA and contact hitter, can move BP/Griffey


PEACE

-BLEEDS

Great idea, it will be very beneficial for the #7 hitter to be moving baserunners into scoring position for the batting near the mendoza line catcher and pitcher.

BLEEDS
03-04-2008, 01:02 PM
Great idea, it will be very beneficial for the #7 hitter to be moving baserunners into scoring position for the batting near the mendoza line catcher and pitcher.

Yes, because every hitter above him in this lineup is a better hitter than him.

However, I fully realize that is where AGON will be hitting instead of Keppinger, but he's my SS if I'm fielding an IDEAL Batting Order (not necessarily an ideal Defensive Fielding Lineup).

PEACE

-BLEEDS

RSNtransplant
03-04-2008, 01:16 PM
Yes, because every hitter above him in this lineup is a better hitter than him.

PEACE

-BLEEDS

Then give that as your reason, not some flawed thinking that needing to move up runners is important 7th b/c it is the catcher and pitcher who would need to to drive them in.

IowaRed
03-04-2008, 01:20 PM
Then give that as your reason, not some flawed thinking that needing to move up runners is important 7th b/c it is the catcher and pitcher who would need to to drive them in.


I didn't read it as Bleeds was saying that it was "important" for the #7 hitter, but that is a likely result of a guy who puts the ball in play and hits for a high average. Regardless of that possible glitch, it's a post of the year nominee in my book

RSNtransplant
03-04-2008, 01:41 PM
I didn't read it as Bleeds was saying that it was "important" for the #7 hitter, but that is a likely result of a guy who puts the ball in play and hits for a high average. Regardless of that possible glitch, it's a post of the year nominee in my book

So if Bruce makes the 25 man batting two LH rookies first and second seems like a good idea? Followed by a streaky EE, who has never lead the team in BA?

Bip Roberts
03-04-2008, 01:42 PM
So if Bruce makes the 25 man batting two LH rookies first and second seems like a good idea? Followed by a streaky EE, who has never lead the team in BA?

Edwin lead the team in BA last year

IowaRed
03-04-2008, 01:55 PM
So if Bruce makes the 25 man batting two LH rookies first and second seems like a good idea? Followed by a streaky EE, who has never lead the team in BA?

I didn't say it was the lineup of the year I said it was a post of the year nominee. Having said that, I would be absolutely thrilled with the lineup Bleeds proposed over any lineup I can envision our current manager putting on a lineup card.

RSNtransplant
03-04-2008, 02:12 PM
Edwin lead the team in BA last year

My mistake, I am considering the 241+ Ab Keppinger, Hopper, Hatteberg and Hamilton all batted better than EE. To me, not reaching the required ABs doesn't disqualify them from discussion even if it does to be crowned batting champion.

BLEEDS
03-04-2008, 04:41 PM
Then give that as your reason, not some flawed thinking that needing to move up runners is important 7th b/c it is the catcher and pitcher who would need to to drive them in.

I didn't read it as Bleeds was saying that it was "important" for the #7 hitter, but that is a likely result of a guy who puts the ball in play and hits for a high average. Regardless of that possible glitch, it's a post of the year nominee in my book

What he said, it was the RESULT, not the REASONING>


So if Bruce makes the 25 man batting two LH rookies first and second seems like a good idea? Followed by a streaky EE, who has never lead the team in BA?

Yes, against Righty Starters, and most Lefties. EE already noted, lead the team in BA. He's also got better OBP skills, and in the long run IMO will have more SLG/OPS than BP, possibly as soon as this year.


My mistake, I am considering the 241+ Ab Keppinger, Hopper, Hatteberg and Hamilton all batted better than EE. To me, not reaching the required ABs doesn't disqualify them from discussion even if it does to be crowned batting champion.

Well, you're using flawed logic. They are disqualified from the discussion.

PEACE

-BLEEDS

Bip Roberts
03-04-2008, 04:42 PM
My mistake, I am considering the 241+ Ab Keppinger, Hopper, Hatteberg and Hamilton all batted better than EE. To me, not reaching the required ABs doesn't disqualify them from discussion even if it does to be crowned batting champion.

Thats fine but just by what MLB goes by Edwin did lead the team. Id agree that if given the ABs Keppinger and Hatte probably would have lead

RSNtransplant
03-04-2008, 05:41 PM
Yes, against Righty Starters, and most Lefties. EE already noted, lead the team in BA. He's also got better OBP skills, and in the long run IMO will have more SLG/OPS than BP, possibly as soon as this year.

Well, you're using flawed logic. They are disqualified from the discussion.

PEACE

-BLEEDS

So the 241+ abs of Keppinger, Hatte, Hamilton are not to be considered, but you want to leadoff two guys with a combined 84 career abs.