What is your opinion of the A.J. Pierzynski signing?
MJH on accountability
i'm not saying i agree with Andrus second, but i dont agree with Napoli second. You dont want your 2 hitter bashing homers and doubles, although it is certainly not a bad thing. The way i see the lineup i want my 9-1-2 hitters, not to be 30 hr 100 rbi kind of guys, i want them to be able to get on base so the 3-4-5 guys can drive them in. I don't agree with Napoli 7th but i dont like him 2nd either. here would be my lineup.
Kinsler - RYoung - RHamilton - LBeltre - RNapoli - RCruz - RMoreland - LGentry - R / it would be nice for Leonys to just wreck spring so he can be put in the 9 hole and break up the lineup very nicely.Andrus - R
He's not saying Napoli goes to #2 - he's saying Napoli goes up in the order and Andrus goes down to #8 or #9.
Maybe the issue isn't sabermetrics, but a gut thing with Wash. Maybe Wash wants speed guys in the #1 and #2 spot so they can both get on base and then when Josh or Mike or Adrian hits a gapper he can run in place in the dugout and wave his arm around like a big windmill - because that's fun. And it's certainly fun for us to watch. Remember "Billy ball"? Maybe you are too young for that. Well this is "Wash ball."
I suppose that on paper I will concede your argument, RF. It's hard to argue with numbers. However, on nights when the lineup is clicking, it sure is fun to watch those guys round the bases (and steal bases), and it sure if fun to see Napoli hit a 3 run homer from the 7th or 8th spot in the order. So while you guys are upset about this, it doesn't bother me in the least. I feel like sometimes the sabermetrics or number crunching is one of the things taking the fun out of the game. I'm not trying to judge anyone with that statement - just an observation.
RFan and TRBRangerFan,
Thanks for your factual posts on this topic, I really need to check out "The Book" now.
Also kudos to everyone on this website for this discussion not turning into a caps lock name calling competition...so refreshing.
My final input on this matter is that when you have the likes of
Josh H.Mike N.Nelson C.Adrian B.
Hitting behind you in the order, do you really want to take the 68% chance that Elvis can successfully steal a base, and take a base runner away from their RBI totals? If it's Mitch Mo or Gentry at the plate, I do want to take that risk, but the 4 guys I just mentioned are MUCH more likely to hit for Power and driving someone in from 1st.
WWJDD?, I appreciate your points. For me, statistical analysis makes the game more enjoyable, not less. When I was a kid, I might've concluded that a player like Elvis Andrus wasn't that good defensively b/c he makes so many errors. Before stats like UZR, if you wanted to debate this point about the most you could say was that Andrus has great range but makes "stupid" mistakes. With UZR, you can be fairly confident that Andrus's range and other defensive skills more than compensates for his frequent failure to make the routine play. I think watching the game is fun and analyze it afterward just makes it more fun.
Anthony in Australia, I disagree that batting order is among the least important decisions a manager can make. I suspect that the difference between a good manager and an average one might be a handful of wins over the course of a season. I doubt even a guy like Joe Maddon could take the Astros to the playoffs. By optimizing the lineup, a manager might add 10 to 20 runs (or 1 to 2 wins) per year. That's like having $5 to $10 mil to spend onthe FA market.
Fajita, I'm not arguing that it would be ideal for Napoli to hit 2nd. In an earlier post, I argued that he should hit 3rd or 5th. I'm just arguing that if the Rangers made no other changes to their lineup other than hitting Napoli 2nd and Andrus 7th, they would score 4 to 8 additional runs over the course of the season. That's roughly .5 to 1 additional win just by making a single, obvious adjustment. That additional win might come in handy if the race with the Angels goes down to the wire. Close races and the playoffs are where managers earn their money.
Fajita, love your lineup, very similar to what I proposed. Joby! Go to the head of the class! 68% is the "statistical break even" rate for making a steal worth it. You for sure don't want to run yourself out of an inning with those fellas behind you! Base stealing is MUCH, MUCH more valuable late in the game (ala Kinsler's steal in game 2 of the World Series) where one run can produce a win. And, although I like the excitement of the Ranger's running game, we can sure run ourselves and bunt ourselves out of some big innings. (There are some great stats in "The Book" regarding how a disruptive runner on base affects the defense AND the batter negatively, as well as when to steal, bunt, etc.) Great hot stove read for me this year, can't recommend it enough though I'm sure it seems like I have!
I have to respectfully disagree when people say that there is more to a batting order than "just scoring runs". Really? Then what is it for? To order hot dogs? You should put your most proficient run scoring offense on the field as often as possible. I always crack up when an NFL coach says something like, "our game plan today wasn't just to try and outscore them". Makes me want to say, "Really? So what was your plan? To score less than the other team and still win?" Same thing with baseball and scoring runs.
I agree you don't just list your hitters 1-9 in terms of avg, OBP or slugging. But you can use wOBA and come up with a fairly good lineup hitting your best hitters (according to wOBA) in this order. Best three hitters in the 1, 2, and 4 hole, followed by your next best two in the 3 and 5 hole. Then 6-9 in descending order. It's even better, as I said in a previous post, if your 1 and 2 hitter take walks and have a higher OBP, and your 3,4, and 5 hitters have good power.
The currency in MLB is runs, and the Rangers are wealthy. It's my opinion based on a few stats that they could be filthy rich if they hit Napoli 5th and Elvis 8th or 9th. As an aside, you can bet your butt that a lot of managers, probably most in MLB, would be doing this with our lineup already. This is not some kind of strange rocket science theory from outer space that Rfan has come up with. It's simple common sense backed up with numbers.
@RFan i think if the only move we made was switching these two guys it wouldnt be that much of an advantage. The lineup is a very complicated and important thing and it needs to flow nicely, as the lineup is there are no easy spots, but moving andrus down might make one in our bottom guys. I think Napoli's huge year in the few PA's he had help make it look like he would provide more runs from the 2 hole. When you look at Napoli though he isnt a #2 hitter, he doesnt have the speed and im sure he isnt as good as a bunter as Andrus. I think it would hurt the team with Napoli 2nd he has way to much power and not quite enough speed. I would prefer him 5th or 6th with young in 2nd.
I'd also prefer Napoli at 5 rather than 2. Hamilton should hit 2nd and Andrus 8th.
We'll have to agree to disagree on the rest. My position is that a #2 hitter doesn't need to be fast. He just needs to be a one of the 2 best hitters on the team. Statistical analysis has proved, IMO, that conventional wisdom is wrong on this. The hitters at the top of the order get substantially more PAs over the course of the season. So putting speedy, weak-hitting players at the top of the order and sluggers like Napoli at the bottom takes the bat out of the hands of better hitters and puts it into the hands of weaker hitters. Why have a good bunter in the 2 hole when you could have a good hitter. This probably doesn't matter much for most teams. But for a team with a stacked offense like the Rangers, you're talking about taking 90 PAs away from Mike Napoli to give them to Elvis Andrus. That's a mistake that could easily cost the team a win over the course of the season.
As to your point about no weak spots in the lineup, Andrus is a weak spot in the lineup. It doesn't matter whether he hits 2nd or 8th. I'd rather have him hitting 8th so that he comes to the plate less often.
Right on RFan. I think a lot of people lose track of the fact that your 2 hole hitter is only guaranteed to hit 2nd in the first inning. After that, it's a crapshoot. Thus, it's much more important to get the most plate appearances for your best guys.
@RFan that would make perfect sense if Andrus wasnt a very good hitter, but personally i believe, and so do many others, that Andrus will have a breakout year. If he is hitting around .300 he would be a good number two hitter. I want speedy weak guys at the bottom of the lineup, i agree with you on that. i wouldnt say Andrus will be a weak spot after this season. I am very high on Andrus, and against having such power in the 2nd spot. Any way it is i beleive on opening day the Rangers will have the best lineup possible.
It feels good to have the argument instead of some of the others Rangers fans would have in the past.
I agree that it's much more fun to split hairs about batting order than to be an Astros fan and wonder how your team might win an additional 20 or 30 games. That said, one or 2 wins is important to a team like the Rangers in a year in which the Angels are nearly our equals. So that's what the debate's about. Up to this point, Andrus has never had a wRC+ of 100 or better. 100 is average, so up to this point, Andrus has been a below average hitter. By contrast, Mike Napoli had a wRC+ of 178 last year, meaning that he produced 78% more runs than the average hitter. He was a beast. Napoli will regress this year and maybe Andrus will have a breakout year. Even so, I doubt Andrus will be as good a hitter as Napoli, in which case, I'd take the bat away from Andrus and give it to Napoli. Speed is only important to the extent it leads to more runs. Even with his speed, Andrus doesn't produce more runs per PA than Napoli.
Thanks for the discussion. I think we've beat this horse to death.
@ Anthony-in-Australia: "Funny, ain't it? Of all the decisions a manager has to make, batting order probably has the least significance. And yet it generates furious debate and heated passions. Yawn..."
It's also one of the easiest decisions to make. This isn't the 1970's - the #2 hitter no longer needs to be able to bunt and run. Sacrifice bunting is one of the least effective plays in baseball and structuring your lineup around your ability to bunt guys over is probably one of the dumbest ideas still hanging around the game.
Put your best overall hitters (OPS) near the top to get your best hitters the most at-bats. Give your worst hitters the least number of at-bats. From game-to-game, obviously the results will vary. But in the long-run, getting good hitters more at-bats and bad hitters less at-bats can only improve your offense.
First of all, Nap had a banner year and it may be repeated and maybe not. If he played the same as he did last year every year, we would never have got him. Fast players who can bunt, walk or single can change a game and put pressure on the opposing starter. It's elementary, get on first, steal second, maybe third and score on a fielders choice. Speed on the bases is as big in baseball as power hitters and will probably win more games. I don't think one can take stats and win a pennet this year, not an average year, this year. It takes baseball men who know their business. Wash is one of them.
I'm not really sure I have a dog in this hunt mainly because Wash will do what Wash do, but I do tend to think that stats like wOBA are rather limited in there ability to help in the construction of a lineup. I certainly don't disagree with the idea of wanting to give your best hitters the most PA over the coarse of a season. However I also believe that Andrus' speed skill provides a different benefit that putting someone like Young in the two hole doesn't.
Stealing bases in and of itself doesn't necessarily provide a significant increase in a teams ability to score runs, yet the threat of a stolen base is something that most teams defend against. When Andrus is standing on first teams respond by holding him there and repositioning the 2B and SS to compensate. This action provides significant gaps in the infield (specifically on the left side) that directly benefit Hamilton and increase his wOBA by making it easier for him to get balls out of the infield. If you were to replace Andrus with someone like Young then when Hamilton comes to the plate with Young on first teams are less likely to react by holding Young on which means those gaps in the infield are significantly smaller and reduces the chances of a ball making it through the infield and effectively reducing the batters (in this case Hamilton's) wOBA.
Turning a double play is also significantly more difficult when the runner standing on first has Andrus' speed and is one of the reasons Hamilton hits into fewer DP than any other regular (along with his busting balls down the line). Again if Young were at first in place of Andrus and Hamilton hits fieldable groundball the odds of a double play being turned are higher because Young's speed doesn't put as much pressure on the defense as Andrus'.
So in these ways moving Andrus out of the second position can have a negative effect on wOBA (primarily for the third batter which can then carry over with diminished returns to the fourth and fifth batters as well). Really it's all of these little things that conspire against the use of stats like wOBA because there is currently not an effective way to statistically disprove the effect some like Andrus hitting second has on a lineup. So while it can be argued that substituting virtually anyone else with a better wOBA might look better it doesn't mean it will have the same effect during game situations.
Anyway I hope that all makes some kind of sense. I really do like many of these stats, I find them interesting and they help to make the game more enjoyable. They just are not always practically applicable to managing IMO.
Ah, it's almost that time of year again to start crafting our own batting orders.
But seriously, there has to be someone out there with the knowhow and resources to assimilate a team's stats for a year, put them into a simulation, and run the 362,880 different lineup possibilities to tell us what the optimal run-scoring lineup would look like.
Any math teachers out there looking for a homework assignment for their eager pupils?
@arp, I'm ot going to break down your whole post like I did Steev or anything, but in regards to
. Really it's all of these little things that conspire against the use of stats like wOBA because there is currently not an effective way to statistically disprove the effect some like Andrus hitting second has on a lineup. So while it can be argued that substituting virtually anyone else with a better wOBA might look better it doesn't mean it will have the same effect during game situations. The big proplem here is that there is a big difference between "not disproven" and "proven". You are saying Andrus compensates by not having as impressive offensive production as Young, because he he has some kind of unaccounted for peripheral effect on Hamilton's production? That seems highly speculative. I can't prove or disprove this, though I'm sure someone (Tom Tango?) could. I've never seen anything on it. But we have the problem of 1)whether or not it actually exists or 2)if it is signifigant enough that the Rangers would score more runs with Andrus batting 2nd than Young batting 2nd. I would bet not.
@fishbait in regards to
Fast players who can bunt, walk or single can change a game and put pressure on the opposing starter. It's elementary, get on first, steal second, maybe third and score on a fielders choice. Speed on the bases is as big in baseball as power hitters and will probably win more games
I don't want to jump to conclusions about what you are trying to imply, but if it is that bunts/singles/walks change a game more than doubles/triples/HRs for fast players, then this is just plain not true.
You can look there for the run values of all events every year from 1871-2010. No year is a single+SB equal in run creation to a double. I would think because runners already on base are more easily scored on a double than on a single+SB. Just like 4 straight singles would score you more runs than a solo homer. Same amount of bases, but not the same production.
I'm not trying to say that stolen bases and walks are bad outcomes. Its just that they are not as productive in themselves as hitting for extra bases.
TSU, Tom Tango ran computer simulations like you're talking about and reported the results in The Book. The suggestions that I've made in this thread are basically his conclusions. In the simulations, teams scored the most runs by placing their top hitters (by wOBA) in the 2 and 4 slots, the next 3 best hitters in the 1, 3, and 5 slots, and then the worst 4 hitters in descending order (by wOBA) in the 6 through 9 slots.
The conventional wisdom that says you should place a speedy, singles hitting, bunter-type like Andrus is the 2 hole is wrong. Why let a guy like Andrus hit ahead of a guy like Napoli? If the hope is that Andrus gets a single and then steals 2nd, why not just let Napoli hit a double or better yet a HR. It definitely makes no sense when you consider that Napoli's career OBP is .360, which is 20 points higher than Andrus's. So not only does Napoli get more total bases when he gets on base but he actually gets on base more frequently. It's a strange logic that says that you should take the bat out of the hands of a slugger who has a high OBP and give it to a singles hitter with a lower OBP in the hope that when the singles hitter gets on base (which occurs less often for him than the slugger) the singles hitter might be able to steal 2nd! I just don't follow that at all. Apparently, conventional wisdom defies logic.
Against, my better judgment, I'm going to try one last time to convince the doubters. The argument as I understand it that Elvis Andrus is a better hitter than Mike Napoli b/c Andrus can run fast and bunt. Or, at the very least, Andrus is a better 2 hole hitter than Mike Napoli for these reasons. So the Rangers should take 90 PAs away from Mike Napoli (who produced 78% more runs per PA than the average hitter in 2011) and give those PAs to Elvis Andrus (who produced 4% fewer runs per PA than the average hitter in 2011). If that's your position, then (focusing solely on offense and ignoring defense) that seems to imply that you would be willing to trade Mike Napoli (the hitter) for Elvis Andrus (the hitter). With all due respect, I just can't wrap my head around that. Based on wRC+, which is arguably the single best metric for judging offensive output, Napoli has been an above average hitter every year of his career. Andrus has never been an above average hitter. I can't think of any reason why a manager should take the bat out of the hands of an above average hitter 90 times during the season and give it to a below average hitter. I don't care how fast the below average hitter is or whether he can bunt.
Offer me a lineup filled with slow Mike Napoli's or a lineup filled with speedy Elvis Andrus's and I'll take the Mike Napoli lineup every time. That lineup would be the slowest, highest scoring offense in the league!
We will probably have to agree to disagree but the only real response I would have outside of what I've already stated is that I don't think any one stat should be the last word in lineup construction. I agree that wOBA should be used to assist in lineup decisions and to that point believe Naps should be at least in the top five in the order and probably at number 5. If I were to make a suggestion for a lineup it would look like this
It moves Napoli out of the bottom third of the order and into a better position to produce runs while adding more PA's. It also keeps a more traditional balance between speed and power at the top of the lineup.
Here is what I don't understand: Andrus is only going to be the "#2 hitter" one time each game.
After the first inning, who knows what type of hitter will be need in the #2 spot. Since no one can predict how the lineup will turnover throughout a game, it is much more logical to put your best hitters at the top of the lineup - because that will guarantee them more at-bats than the lower spots in the lineup.
In other words, the lineup is a crapshoot after the 1st inning. The #2 spot may come to the plate numerous times with runners on...needing to drive them in. Or the bases may be empty and you simply need the best OBP option at the plate.
Again, the bunt is the worst play in baseball, and the situations that call for a bunt or a steal are much less frequent than the situations that simply call for a good hitter, both in terms of OBP and power. Andrus should never bat higher than 7th until he proves that he can be an above-average hitter.
@Keystone - If a player is just as apt to hit an extra base hit as a single, I would agree with you. A good hitter will just hit singles 3 out of ten times. Against a good pitcher, runs have to be manufactured and speed is the prime ingrediant. One run will win a game 1 - 0 or 8 - 7. Get speed on base and move him around. I don't watch stats but in watching the Rangers, they are better at this than opposing teams. They have the speed and they have the guys to knock them in. Baseball is sort of an cumulative sport. Except for solo homers, it takes more than one hit in succession to score a run. It's a 3 out of ten chance and then another 3 out of ten chance. Speed on the bases results in steals that vastly improves the odds. It's just my opinion. Thanks for replying.
"Fast players who can bunt, walk or single can change a game and put pressure on the opposing starter. It's elementary, get on first, steal second, maybe third and score on a fielders choice. Speed on the bases is as big in baseball as power hitters and will probably win more games." -fishbait
You know what else puts pressure on a pitcher? Having a hitter at the plate with the strength to deposit any pitch, even a good pitch, even an out pitch, into the LF bleachers. You know, a hitter like Mike Napoli. And it's been proven over and again that "small ball" teams score less runs than power hitting teams. And scoring runs is how your lineup helps you win games.
It sure was nice to see the number 2 hitter swinging away with Ian on base today instead of trying to bunt.
Hopefully, Elvis does well in the 2 hole increasing his trade value. Bring on Profar in 2013.
This is a much more interesting discussion than I anticipated it would be judging from the thread title. I definitely like Andrus in the #2 spot because my taste in lineups since my obsession with Delino DeShields and Marquis Grisson has been to have two speed guys at the top of the lineup. That just always seemed dangerous to me.
But to make an actual contribution, I would like to point out that if you are going to compare the numbers you have to take into account that Napoli has only played more than 120 games in a season once. Elvis has been right at 150 games per season since he started in the big leagues.
If Nap is going to play 30 games fewer, I think you can throw the 0.5 to 1.0 extra wins out the window.
It's one game, so it's meaningless. But that said, I stand my ground on the claim that Elvis is too weak a hitter to occupy the 2-hole. Maybe someday (hopefully soon) he'll be good enough, but not now.
And watching MY rake today it occured to me that another advantage of not hitting Andrus 2d is that it removes the temptation for Wash to bunt when Kinsler gets a lead off hit. Andrus (particularly when he's bunting) is an opportunity for the pitcher to take a break b/w Kinsler and Hamilton. It just makes no sense. But we're tilting at windmills here.
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