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Thread: Lineup construction.

  1. #1
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    Lineup construction.

    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.

    Code:
    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.

    Code:
    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.

    Code:
    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:

    Code:
    	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.
    Zero chance the Reds miss the playoffs!

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    Re: Lineup construction.

    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?

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    Re: Lineup construction.

    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.
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    Re: Lineup construction.

    Quote Originally Posted by Slyder View Post

    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.
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    Re: Lineup construction.

    Quote Originally Posted by RichRed View Post
    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.

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    Re: Lineup construction.

    Quote Originally Posted by Screwball View Post
    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/player...&type=batting3

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

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    Re: Lineup construction.

    Quote Originally Posted by Slyder View Post
    http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/player...&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.

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    Re: Lineup construction.

    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.
    Code:
    	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.
    Zero chance the Reds miss the playoffs!

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    Re: Lineup construction.

    Quote Originally Posted by texasdave View Post
    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.

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    Re: Lineup construction.

    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.

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    Re: Lineup construction.

    Quote Originally Posted by Screwball View Post
    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.
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    Re: Lineup construction.

    Quote Originally Posted by RichRed View Post
    Could be the difference between making the playoffs and not.
    Possibly, but not likely, especially with the Reds.

    Quote Originally Posted by Slyder
    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?
    Last edited by Screwball; 05-22-2007 at 04:02 PM.

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    Re: Lineup construction.

    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.
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    Re: Lineup construction.

    Impressive stats.
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    Re: Lineup construction.

    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.
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