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Thread: Team On-Base Percentage and a Balanced Lineup

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  1. #1
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    Team On-Base Percentage and a Balanced Lineup

    http://www.fangraphs.com/community/t...lanced-lineup/

    Teams that get on base often score more runs than those that donít. We know this, and it comes as no surprise. In 2013, the Red Sox had the highest team OBP (.349) and also scored the most runs in MLB. The Tigers had the second-highest team OBP (.346), and they scored the second-most runs. Team OBPs can tell us a lot about the effectiveness of an offense (obviously not everything), but they can also be misleading if proper context isnít applied.

    The Cardinals scored 783 runs in 2013, good enough for third in MLB. The rival Reds scored 698 runs, 85 fewer than the Cardinals. There are many reasons for this gap in runs scored, but I would like to examine just one of them. The Cardinals had a team OBP of .332 while the Reds had a team OBP of .327. On first look, it appears that the Cardinals and Reds got on base at a similar rate. But a major difference exists below the surface. Take a look at the chart below of the top eight hitters by plate appearance for both teams (Chris Heisey gets the nod over Ryan Hanigan as to not have two Redsí catchers on the list).




    The difference is quite evident. The average OBP in 2013 was .318. Seven of the top eight Cardinal hitters got on base at an above-average clip. Besides the pitcher, there is one easy out in that lineup. The Cardinals maintained a ridiculous batting average with RISP, but that matters much more because they always had people on base.

    On the other hand, the Reds had two on-base Goliaths. Joey Votto and Shin-Soo Choo camped out on the bases. They became one with the bases. The problem was that the Reds had only one more player with an above-average OBP, Jay Bruce at .329. The other five players struggled to get on base consistently. Three of them had OBPs under .300.

    So while the Cardinals achieve a high team OBP through balance, the Reds had two hitters who significantly raised the team OBP. Take Votto and Choo away, and the other six Reds on this list have a combined OBP of .305. That is a staggering low number for six of the top hitters on a playoff team.

    What does this teach us? Well, team OBPs do not provide insight into how balanced a lineup a team has. The Reds would be foolish to think they have a lineup that gets on base enough to be an elite offense. With the loss of Choo, the Reds offense may struggle to produce runs at a league-average clip as Votto and Bruce could be stranded on base countless times.

    A balanced lineup was a major factor in the Cardinals scoring the most runs in the National League. Their team may have had an excellent .332 OBP, but their top eight hitters by plate appearance had a .355 OBP. As a group they were excellent. The Red Sox were similar in that their top eight hitters by plate appearances all had above-average OBPs with Stephen Drew coming in eighth at .333. Think about that! The Red Sox eighth-best hitter at getting on base was 15 points above league average.

    Even though the Reds finished 6th in team OBP in 2013, their on-base skills were lacking. While the Cardinals had only a five-point advantage in team OBP over their rival, they were much more adept at clogging the bases. Team OBPs are great, they just donít always tell the whole story.

  2. #2
    Member kpresidente's Avatar
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    Re: Team On-Base Percentage and a Balanced Lineup

    It seems to me, all else being equal, you'd rather have your OBP clumped together than spread out all over the lineup, since you're more likely to string together the hits you need to score a run before you make 3 outs.

    If I go to this lineup simulator...http://lineupsimulator.com/Default.aspx...and plug in 2 lineups, one with the OBP spread out over the lineup, and one with it clumped together, this is what I get:

    LINEUP #1 - SPREAD:
    Code:
    ORDER   AB   H (singles)
    #1      10   3
    #2      10   3
    #3      10   3
    #4      10   3
    #5      10   3
    #6      10   3
    #7      10   3
    #8      10   3
    #9      10   3
    TOTAL   90  27
    
    Runs Per Game: 1.71
    LINEUP #2 - CLUMPED:
    Code:
    ORDER   AB   H (singles)
    #1      10   6
    #2      10   6
    #3      10   6
    #4      10   4
    #5      10   1
    #6      10   1
    #7      10   1
    #8      10   1
    #9      10   1
    TOTAL   90  27
    
    Runs Per Game: 2.14
    Both have the same OBP, but the "clumped together" lineup scores more runs.

    Maybe the Cardinals did so well because of their BA w/RISP.

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    dfs (01-17-2014)

  4. #3
    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: Team On-Base Percentage and a Balanced Lineup

    Quote Originally Posted by kpresidente View Post
    It seems to me, all else being equal, you'd rather have your OBP clumped together than spread out all over the lineup, since you're more likely to string together the hits you need to score a run before you make 3 outs.

    If I go to this lineup simulator...http://lineupsimulator.com/Default.aspx...and plug in 2 lineups, one with the OBP spread out over the lineup, and one with it clumped together, this is what I get:

    LINEUP #1 - SPREAD:
    Code:
    ORDER   AB   H (singles)
    #1      10   3
    #2      10   3
    #3      10   3
    #4      10   3
    #5      10   3
    #6      10   3
    #7      10   3
    #8      10   3
    #9      10   3
    TOTAL   90  27
    
    Runs Per Game: 1.71
    LINEUP #2 - CLUMPED:
    Code:
    ORDER   AB   H (singles)
    #1      10   6
    #2      10   6
    #3      10   6
    #4      10   4
    #5      10   1
    #6      10   1
    #7      10   1
    #8      10   1
    #9      10   1
    TOTAL   90  27
    
    Runs Per Game: 2.14
    Both have the same OBP, but the "clumped together" lineup scores more runs.

    Maybe the Cardinals did so well because of their BA w/RISP.

    Your second lineup has 3 players in a row who get on base at an otherworldly .600 clip. Doesn't that skew the results?
    "I prefer books and movies where the conflict isn't of the extreme cannibal apocalypse variety I guess." Redsfaithful

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    joshua (01-17-2014)

  6. #4
    Member kpresidente's Avatar
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    Re: Team On-Base Percentage and a Balanced Lineup

    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny Footstool View Post
    Your second lineup has 3 players in a row who get on base at an otherworldly .600 clip. Doesn't that skew the results?
    Well, that was the point...to draw the sharp distinction. My first lineup was also ridiculously balanced, everybody had exactly .300 OBP. The same holds if you plug in more realistic lineups but the effect is obviously smaller. I played around with it some more and you can simulate a lineup where the more balanced team does better, but most of the time the "clumped" lineup does better.

  7. #5
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    Re: Team On-Base Percentage and a Balanced Lineup

    Quote Originally Posted by kpresidente View Post
    It seems to me, all else being equal, you'd rather have your OBP clumped together than spread out all over the lineup, since you're more likely to string together the hits you need to score a run before you make 3 outs.

    If I go to this lineup simulator...http://lineupsimulator.com/Default.aspx...and plug in 2 lineups, one with the OBP spread out over the lineup, and one with it clumped together, this is what I get:

    LINEUP #1 - SPREAD:
    Code:
    ORDER   AB   H (singles)
    #1      10   3
    #2      10   3
    #3      10   3
    #4      10   3
    #5      10   3
    #6      10   3
    #7      10   3
    #8      10   3
    #9      10   3
    TOTAL   90  27
    
    Runs Per Game: 1.71
    LINEUP #2 - CLUMPED:
    Code:
    ORDER   AB   H (singles)
    #1      10   6
    #2      10   6
    #3      10   6
    #4      10   4
    #5      10   1
    #6      10   1
    #7      10   1
    #8      10   1
    #9      10   1
    TOTAL   90  27
    
    Runs Per Game: 2.14
    Both have the same OBP, but the "clumped together" lineup scores more runs.

    Maybe the Cardinals did so well because of their BA w/RISP.
    *BB includes HBP.

    Cardinals




    Reds


  8. #6
    Ripsnort wheels's Avatar
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    Re: Team On-Base Percentage and a Balanced Lineup

    Looking at the numbers of those two teams side by side is disheartening.

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    Re: Team On-Base Percentage and a Balanced Lineup

    The main reason the Cards scored more runs than other teams in the NL was an unsustainable average with RISP.

  10. Likes:

    757690 (01-17-2014)

  11. #8
    Member MikeThierry's Avatar
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    Re: Team On-Base Percentage and a Balanced Lineup

    Quote Originally Posted by PuffyPig View Post
    The main reason the Cards scored more runs than other teams in the NL was an unsustainable average with RISP.
    Right but they also had men on base all the time to accomplish that feat. People often comment here "well look how bad their batting average was with nobody on base". Their batting average may have been bad without runners on base but they always had guys who were able to get on base simply because of a balanced OBP throughout the lineup. Watching almost all the Cards game last season, it seemed as if there was always someone on base during the innings they were batting.
    Last edited by MikeThierry; 01-17-2014 at 03:35 PM.
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    Member 757690's Avatar
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    Re: Team On-Base Percentage and a Balanced Lineup

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeThierry View Post
    Right but they also had men on base all the time to accomplish that feat. People often comment here "well look how bad their batting average was with nobody on base". Their batting average may have been bad without runners on base but they always had guys who were able to get on base simply because of a balanced OBP throughout the lineup. Watching almost all the Cards game last season, it seemed as if there was always someone on base during the innings they were batting.
    Cardinals had a .236/.297/356 slash line with no one on base in 2013.

    Reds had a .248/.316/.402 slashline with no one on base in 2013.

    Csrdinals were actually worse than the Reds at getting runners on base in the first place in 2013.
    "Man, the pitch looks fast, even in slow motion." Thom Brennaman on Chapman's fastball.

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    Re: Team On-Base Percentage and a Balanced Lineup

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeThierry View Post
    Right but they also had men on base all the time to accomplish that feat. .

    Define "all the time".

    Their OBA was .005 ahead of the Reds.

  14. #11
    Member Wonderful Monds's Avatar
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    Re: Team On-Base Percentage and a Balanced Lineup

    Quote Originally Posted by PuffyPig View Post
    The main reason the Cards scored more runs than other teams in the NL was an unsustainable average with RISP.
    Likely aided by sign stealing that teams will be more on the look out for.
    They don't think it be like it is, but it do.
    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Schuler View Post
    He has also taught me that even when the Reds win it is important to focus on the fact that they could have lost.

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    Re: Team On-Base Percentage and a Balanced Lineup

    Quote Originally Posted by PuffyPig View Post
    The main reason the Cards scored more runs than other teams in the NL was an unsustainable average with RISP.
    They clearly proved that it was sustainable.

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    Re: Team On-Base Percentage and a Balanced Lineup

    Quote Originally Posted by Kingspoint View Post
    They clearly proved that it was sustainable.
    Over a season, yes.

    Name a team in baseball that has ever been able to sustain the number over even 2 seasons?

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    Re: Team On-Base Percentage and a Balanced Lineup

    Quote Originally Posted by Kingspoint View Post
    They clearly proved that it was sustainable.
    Not really.

    Around mid season last year, the Cards BA with RISP was over .400. It ended up at .330. So some serious regression occurred in the second half of the season.
    "Man, the pitch looks fast, even in slow motion." Thom Brennaman on Chapman's fastball.

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    Re: Team On-Base Percentage and a Balanced Lineup

    Quote Originally Posted by 757690 View Post
    Not really.

    It ended up at .330.
    Which was what....about 60 points higher than the next best team?


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