Wow, it seems that Dusty has ruffled a few feathers with his opinions on how to build a line-up, and most of those feathers belong to fans of spreadsheets and stats.
I do want to say that I am a fan of spreadsheets and stats, however, I am have not drunk the kool-aid of Baseball Prospectus or any of the other major stat crazy sites. While I believe that Bill James is correct that one day, everything will be able to be explained and understood through stats, I also agree with him when he says that we are very, very far away from that day.
My main problem with Saber fans, is that many (although not all) believe that we have reached the end of our understanding of stats. Because of this they accept that the conclusions that the Saber world has reached so far are dogma and indisputable.
The reason why I have this problem is that our understanding of stats is at the very beginning stage and many mistakes have already been made. A perfect example is Voros McCracken and his theory on DIPS. That has been disproven and is no longer accepted as fact. It has been reworked by Tom Tippett and Mitchel Lichtman and a new better theory of DIPS is now available. I am certain that this will be the case with all Saber theories, they will all be reworked, re-examined and improved on in the future.
I am going to use two examples to show that we have just touched the surface of understanding stats, and these two examples also defend Dusty Baker's views on building a line-up.
I do want to add that I am not saying that Dusty absolutely is right, just that a defense can be made, by more closely examining stats.
Dusty's First View: A Speedy Leadoff Hitter Who Steals Bases Is Better Than One With A High OBP
This is rather simple, actually, although the stats only show that a base stealing leadoff hitter can be better than a high OBP hitter, depending on the numbers.
Everything else being equal, a base stealer will get to second more often than a hitter who does not steal bases. That is a tautology. And a runner on second will score more often than a runner on first. That is indisputable. Therefore, if two player's OPB are equal, than the one who steals more bases will score more often, and be a better lead off hitter (unless you believe the main purpose of a batter is to get on base instead of scoring or driving in a run.)
This also means that there will be situations where Player A could have a higher OPB, but since Player B steals a certain number of bases more than Player A, Player B is a better leadoff hitter. It all depends on the difference between the OBPs and the number of bases stolen. If you do the math, it comes out that every 10 stolen bases is worth around .005 OPB points. So if Player A has an OPB of .380 and Player B has one of .365, and Player B steals 40 more bases than Player A, then Player B is the better leadoff hitter.
Therefore, Dusty's desire to want a speedy leadoff hitter is justifiable, if the leadoff hitter steals enough bases.
Dusty's Second View: The Middle Of The Lineup Should Favor SLG Over OBP.
This is far more complicated so I will only provide a summery of my examination of the stats. Anyone who wishes to see the full work can send me a private message and I will send it to them.
Here is the general theory behind it, and I will show the stats that back up this general theory.
A middle of the batting order hitter comes to the plate with a runner on first more times than any other situation with runners on base. In fact even more often than with a runner on second and a runner on third combined. Therefore, a middle of the lineup hitter who excels at scoring the runner from first is more valuable than a one who can excel at scoring a runner from second or third.
Of course it depends on the actual stats. If Player A can score a runner from second and third five times more often than Player B, and if Player B can only score a runner from first twice as often Player A, than Player A is more valuable in the middle of the lineup.
So just to see what the ratios are, I selected two middle of the lineup hitters, one known for his OPB, J.D. Drew, and one know for his SLG, Adrian Gonzalez. I am sure people can find other examples with different results, but I am only trying to show that Baker can be right, not that he is right all the time.
Here are the numbers:
Drew: .373 OPB .423 SLG
Gonz: .347 OPB .502 SLG
These translate to AG scoring a runner from first at a .327 rate, and JD scoring a runner from first at a .208 rate. That is a huge difference. And since scoring a runner from first base is more important, since it is a more common scenario, than JD really needs to kick some serious tail at scoring runs from second and third. He does do better than AG, which makes sense considering his higher OPB, but by only .314 to .301. That is not nearly enough for him to overcome AG's huge advantage in scoring a runner in from first.
So basically, the stats show that in the middle of the lineup, is better to have a guy with a high SLG and a low OBP (unless he has a ridiculously high OBP), than the other way around. Meaning that Dusty is correct in wanting a hitter to be more worried about getting a good pitch to hit and driving the ball, than getting a walk. His goal should not be to not make an out, but to drive the ball for an extra base hit. That will help the team win more games.
Anyway, have fun ripping this apart. I had fun putting it together.