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Thread: A fun little bit of research

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    A fun little bit of research

    So to borrow from George Grande, we all know Dusty Baker's story. Obviously he has a reputation as a arm killer which may or may not be deserved. He also has a reputation for not valuing OBP, and batting the CF-SS 1 or 2 regardless of their ability to get on base. I wanted to see if this was true so I went back and did some research on Baseball-Reference.

    1) I looked at the player to get the most starts at leadoff and as the #2 hitter in a lineup.
    2) I marked down the player's position, the On base percentage, and the rank of that OBP in the approximate starting lineup.

    The results can be seen here.

    A few points I took away.
    -The Centerfielder does in fact bat first almost all the time. The only seasons where an individual CF didn't lead off the majority of the games, it was because there was more than one CF, and someone else just happened to play everyday and get enough games at leadoff.

    -Wow Barry Bonds was unreal

    -Dusty has actually been okay at getting high OBP guys into one of the top two spots, if not usually both. The time with the Reds has shown him to be much worse at this than any time before.

    -I think you can crush Dusty for this, but only a little. He's a pretty traditional manager, in that his power hitters bat 3-6. This may be a detriment to the "optimal" lineup, but it's not like it puts the Reds at a disadvantage versus most teams as most managers are quite similar.
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    Rally Onion! Chip R's Avatar
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    Re: A fun little bit of research

    I thought it was funny that during the Florida series he had Janish starting at SS one night and he, of course, batted 2nd and had a good game at the plate. The next night Cabrera is back at SS and Janish is at 3rd. In that game Cabrera batted 2nd and Janish hit 8th.
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    Re: A fun little bit of research

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip R View Post
    I thought it was funny that during the Florida series he had Janish starting at SS one night and he, of course, batted 2nd and had a good game at the plate. The next night Cabrera is back at SS and Janish is at 3rd. In that game Cabrera batted 2nd and Janish hit 8th.
    Funny isn't it?

    I've actually thought about this CF bats 1st, SS 2nd deal for awhile and I think I have the formula behind Dusty Baker's decision.

    It's that he actually thinks of it like Little League. It's not that CF and SS bat 1st and 2nd. It's that Phillips can't be moved from the 4th hole or Votto 3rd etc. If you jumble the lineup, your messing with the dude's groove. Votto is used to hitting behind Cabrera, Stubbs is used to leading off. It sounds asinine but I really think it might have something to do with it. It plays into Dusty's overvaluation of player tendencies.

    Think of it has removing a puzzle piece and re-insterting it because that's where it goes. Catcher also hits 8th. He's comfortable 8th. Makes no sense from a statistical standpoint, but IMO Dusty thinks it matters.

    Probably why he finally changed the lineup and won't stop until another major change is needed.

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    Socratic Gadfly TheNext44's Avatar
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    Re: A fun little bit of research

    I think this shows that Dusty almost always bats the CF leadoff. But it also shows that Dusty always batting the SS second is an urban legend. He bats low SLG guys who can bunt. I added it up last year, and over his managerial career, Dusty has batted the SS second around 25% of the time.

    Hopefully this will end the unfunny and untrue "SS bats second, Dude," jokes.
    "Imagination is more important than knowledge." -- Albert Einstein

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    Re: A fun little bit of research

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip R View Post
    I thought it was funny that during the Florida series he had Janish starting at SS one night and he, of course, batted 2nd and had a good game at the plate. The next night Cabrera is back at SS and Janish is at 3rd. In that game Cabrera batted 2nd and Janish hit 8th.
    That kind of stuff I get. If you are going to give someone a spot start, like Janish got, more often than not you aren't going to flip your line up around for that one guy (sans its a 3-4-5 power hitter). While I don't agree with his lineups at all, I get keeping the sub in the same order spot in most cases as long as its just 1 game.

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    Re: A fun little bit of research

    Quote Originally Posted by TheNext44 View Post
    I think this shows that Dusty almost always bats the CF leadoff. But it also shows that Dusty always batting the SS second is an urban legend. He bats low SLG guys who can bunt. I added it up last year, and over his managerial career, Dusty has batted the SS second around 25% of the time.

    Hopefully this will end the unfunny and untrue "SS bats second, Dude," jokes.
    Yep. And what it seemed like was for most years, the 1st or the 2nd batter wasn't really a bad choice as far as OBP goes. It would be a rare year when they both were good choices though.
    When people say that I donít know what Iím talking about when it comes to sports or writing, I think: Man, you should see me in the rest of my life.
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    Re: A fun little bit of research

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip R View Post
    I thought it was funny that during the Florida series he had Janish starting at SS one night and he, of course, batted 2nd and had a good game at the plate. The next night Cabrera is back at SS and Janish is at 3rd. In that game Cabrera batted 2nd and Janish hit 8th.
    Should I laugh or cry?

    Please help!

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    Rally Onion! Chip R's Avatar
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    Re: A fun little bit of research

    Quote Originally Posted by forfreelin04 View Post
    Funny isn't it?

    I've actually thought about this CF bats 1st, SS 2nd deal for awhile and I think I have the formula behind Dusty Baker's decision.

    It's that he actually thinks of it like Little League. It's not that CF and SS bat 1st and 2nd. It's that Phillips can't be moved from the 4th hole or Votto 3rd etc. If you jumble the lineup, your messing with the dude's groove. Votto is used to hitting behind Cabrera, Stubbs is used to leading off. It sounds asinine but I really think it might have something to do with it. It plays into Dusty's overvaluation of player tendencies.

    Think of it has removing a puzzle piece and re-insterting it because that's where it goes. Catcher also hits 8th. He's comfortable 8th. Makes no sense from a statistical standpoint, but IMO Dusty thinks it matters.

    Probably why he finally changed the lineup and won't stop until another major change is needed.
    I think you probably have something there. Dusty is more of a manager who believes that if the players are happy and content, they will produce better. That may be true to a certain extent but that doesn't always work out. I can imagine him calling Brandon into his office and telling him, with great anguish, that he's taking him out of the cleanup spot and moving him to 2nd. Brandon may have just said, "OK, Skip" and shrugged it off. But I think Dusty feels that any change from a routine can upset a player and he takes great care not to upset his players.

    I also think that he's somewhat of a prisoner of the era in which he played in. I heard someone say once that the kind of music you'll like fir the rest of your life is the kind you listened to in your late teens and early 20s. I think, for the most part, that's the case for a lot of things. Dusty came of age in the late 60s-early 70s. More often than not, the CF led off and either the 2nd baseman or SS batted 2nd. The CF was fast and when he got on he was expected to steal bases. The middle IFer was supposed to be able to hit behind the runner if there was a hit and run on and take a lot of pitches to allow the leadoff hitter to steal. He was also supposed to know how to lay down a sacrifice bunt. Because runs were at a premium for most of the 60s, that's how the game was played then and that's about the time when Dusty started playing professionally.

    Quote Originally Posted by dougdirt View Post
    That kind of stuff I get. If you are going to give someone a spot start, like Janish got, more often than not you aren't going to flip your line up around for that one guy (sans its a 3-4-5 power hitter). While I don't agree with his lineups at all, I get keeping the sub in the same order spot in most cases as long as its just 1 game.
    But that's like saying Bill Plummer should hit in the middle of the order when Johnny Bench is getting a rest. Dusty got away with this stuff in SF and CHI because he had better players. A good manager - or coach - adapts to the players that he has and not the other way around.
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    Re: A fun little bit of research

    Chip, I agree on all points. Nice post

    It reminds me of old people (sorry old people) and computers. They were successful in business with a handshake and a contract 30 years ago, but business is different now; technology is different. Sure, a great presentation and paper are still fine ways to get a job done, but you need understanding of the way business is today. Failure to see the need to change is simply selifsh pride. Like business, baseball is different then it was when Dusty played. It's made strides in "how" the game is perceived and "how" winning should be acheived.

    (On the basis of music, I don't listen to the music I grew up with. But music in my generation, the 90's, was terrible compared to those of the 50's, 60's and 70's.) The 80's? Depends on who your asking.


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    Re: A fun little bit of research

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip R View Post
    I think you probably have something there. Dusty is more of a manager who believes that if the players are happy and content, they will produce better. That may be true to a certain extent but that doesn't always work out. I can imagine him calling Brandon into his office and telling him, with great anguish, that he's taking him out of the cleanup spot and moving him to 2nd. Brandon may have just said, "OK, Skip" and shrugged it off. But I think Dusty feels that any change from a routine can upset a player and he takes great care not to upset his players.

    I also think that he's somewhat of a prisoner of the era in which he played in. I heard someone say once that the kind of music you'll like fir the rest of your life is the kind you listened to in your late teens and early 20s. I think, for the most part, that's the case for a lot of things. Dusty came of age in the late 60s-early 70s. More often than not, the CF led off and either the 2nd baseman or SS batted 2nd. The CF was fast and when he got on he was expected to steal bases. The middle IFer was supposed to be able to hit behind the runner if there was a hit and run on and take a lot of pitches to allow the leadoff hitter to steal. He was also supposed to know how to lay down a sacrifice bunt. Because runs were at a premium for most of the 60s, that's how the game was played then and that's about the time when Dusty started playing professionally.
    This is all true to a certain extent, but what I saw, he was always a manager on a team where the best power hitters were also the ones who got on base the most.
    Now he had a hand in designing these teams to be sure, but it's not like there are many managers today who would bat Bonds 1 and Kent 2 or A. Ramirez 1 and Derek Lee 2.

    So when you go to the next round of guys with less power, he usually batted a guy who was a good OBP guy in either the 1 or 2 positions.
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    Re: A fun little bit of research

    Quote Originally Posted by forfreelin04 View Post
    It's that he actually thinks of it like Little League. It's not that CF and SS bat 1st and 2nd. It's that Phillips can't be moved from the 4th hole or Votto 3rd etc. If you jumble the lineup, your messing with the dude's groove. Votto is used to hitting behind Cabrera, Stubbs is used to leading off. It sounds asinine but I really think it might have something to do with it. It plays into Dusty's overvaluation of player tendencies.
    I agree with this 100%. While us saber folk are often derided for treating players like robots, Dusty essentially errs in the exact opposite way. Dusty is a self-described player's manager who's (seemingly) #1 priority is keeping his guys happy.

    He'll constantly describe how guys feel or what they like to justify decisions, as opposed to how they actually play. And he'll often refer back to his own playing days to defend himself. Dusty, as a player, liked certain things. He like having a distinct role so knew exactly what was expected of him. As a manager, he has not evolved his thinking beyond that. He manages like he's the captain of the team.

    CF/leadoff is a fixed "role" on a Dusty team. SS/2-hole is another role. Unless he's forced to, he sticks with these archetypes, even when his talent doesn't fit it. He'll even go so far as to suggest those players adopt the approach of the archetypal player rather than one which maximizes their own strengths.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

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    Re: A fun little bit of research

    Quote Originally Posted by Hoosier Red View Post
    This is all true to a certain extent, but what I saw, he was always a manager on a team where the best power hitters were also the ones who got on base the most.
    Now he had a hand in designing these teams to be sure, but it's not like there are many managers today who would bat Bonds 1 and Kent 2 or A. Ramirez 1 and Derek Lee 2.

    So when you go to the next round of guys with less power, he usually batted a guy who was a good OBP guy in either the 1 or 2 positions.
    Don't most teams power hitters have their best OBP because they are better players and they are feared more so they are walked more often? (Intentional or Unintentional)

    Your right most managers wouldn't bat Bonds 1st and Kent 2nd. I wouldn't either. You need their bat to drive runners in.

    No one is denying the fact the Giants and the Cubs had better players then any Reds team Baker has coached, BUT!!! Cutting Baker any slack for batting Willy T and Patterson 1st for that long in 08 and 09 is simply a fool's errand. There were better options both years.
    Last edited by forfreelin04; 04-29-2010 at 02:32 PM.

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    Re: A fun little bit of research

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    I agree with this 100%. While us saber folk are often derided for treating players like robots, Dusty essentially errs in the exact opposite way. Dusty is a self-described player's manager who's (seemingly) #1 priority is keeping his guys happy.

    He'll constantly describe how guys feel or what they like to justify decisions, as opposed to how they actually play. And he'll often refer back to his own playing days to defend himself. Dusty, as a player, liked certain things. He like having a distinct role so knew exactly what was expected of him. As a manager, he has not evolved his thinking beyond that. He manages like he's the captain of the team.

    CF/leadoff is a fixed "role" on a Dusty team. SS/2-hole is another role. Unless he's forced to, he sticks with these archetypes, even when his talent doesn't fit it. He'll even go so far as to suggest those players adopt the approach of the archetypal player rather than one which maximizes their own strengths.

    Rick, your exactly right.

    Dusty has a blueprint of what he thinks a playoff ballclub is. And as Chip said, he refers to his playing days to construct that blueprint.

    All these points your making, Chip's making, and I'm making all point to Cyclone being right about Dusty.

    If you bring in Dusty's blueprint with players who actually get on base, this team (with above average pitching) is a playoff contender. However, the Reds will be lucky to have this at the same time. That being the case, the Reds need a manager who makes solid decisions based on statistical evidence instead of hunches or nostalgia. Dusty is not that man.

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    Re: A fun little bit of research

    Quote Originally Posted by forfreelin04 View Post
    That being the case, the Reds need a manager who makes solid decisions based on statistical evidence instead of hunches or nostalgia. Dusty is not that man.
    Just curious, who're these englightened managers? Who's available that make these sabremetric decisions?
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    Re: A fun little bit of research

    Quote Originally Posted by Scrap Irony View Post
    Just curious, who're these englightened managers? Who's available that make these sabremetric decisions?
    I don't know enough about the other managers to even tell you.

    I didn't call these statistics sabremetric. However, a simple glance at whose doing well with OBP would go along way though.

    Also, whose doing well against certain pitchers, range factors when a groundball pitcher is throwing, or pitch count studies etc.


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