On a related note, Don Mattingly has plugged his 2B into the #2 spot in the lineup in all 12 Dodger games so far thus year, while batting Andre Ethier #5 or #6 in every game. It seems safe to assume that Mattingly thinks it’s to the Dodgers’ advantage to have a weak-hitting 2B hit #2 and a better-hitting RF hit # 5/6. If true, this would imply that the opposing team would be better off seeing Ethier hit #2 and weak 2B hit #6.
It would be great to have someone sit Mattingly down and pose this question: If you’re a pitcher facing the Dodgers, would you REALLY rather see Ethier #2 and 2B #5/6 than weak 2B #2 and Ethier # 5/6? Are you REALLY more afraid of weak 2B grounding out or bunting to advance a runner than you are of Ethier driving the runner in with an XBH?
Why avoid picking on Matthews? Matthews is an idiot and deserves to be picked on for saying stupid things.
Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — April 15, 2013 @ 3:16 pm
i wouldnt say anything (at least the excerpt presented here) he said was stupid … i dont agree with his stance and i dont think his argument was particularly compelling, but i wouldnt say he said something stupid.
Comment by Sleight of Hand Pro — April 15, 2013 @ 3:46 pm
When putting a lineup together, as the author notes, you have to think about all the players, not just one. The 2-spot is often asked to a) take strikes so the leadoff hitter has a chance to steal and b) hit to the right side or bunt to move a runner over, aka sacrifice his AB for the good of the team. Do you REALLY want Ethier to look at good pitches or sacrifice his AB?
2nd point, if you stack all your best hitters at the top, then the Dodgers, in this case, would have AJ Ellis hitting 6th, followed by Mark Ellis, Luis Cruz, Nick Punto and the pitcher (or whatever SS/3B combo they go with until Hanley is healthy). Is that REALLY how you want the bottom half of your lineup to look?
So maybe you think the Dodgers shouldn’t take such a stars-n-scrubs approach to building a team, but that’s not Mattingly’s call — he just has to play the pieces the GM gives him. I see nothing wrong with putting a useful, professional — though weak hitting — 2B in the 2 hole and putting your RBI guys in RBI positions in the lineup. Old school ain’t necessarily wrong.
Isn’t the point that if Either hit 2nd he wouldn’t be asked to take strikes and bunt? Instead, the Dodgers would ask him to hit XBH and score runners from 1st, bat one more time in a few games than he would otherwise, and get on base for Kemp and company.
You don’t hit one of your best hitters 2nd and then ask him to back like a traditional 2-hole hitter. Rather, you bat one of your best hitters 2nd and have hime still act like one of your best hitters.
I would personally be shocked if Joe Girardi made ANY decisions regarding the team based on saber metrics. This man is an absolute SLAVE to the platoon advantage and will do whatever it takes to split up his lineup, even if that means having inferior hitters such as Eduardo Nunez and Steve Pearce batting at the top of the order, or taking a superior hitter such as Jason Giambi out of the lineup entirely against a lefty, usually ignoring any sample size issues.
Interesting post as it shows the thinking process that the author uses better than most. He really tries to attack the problem from all available angles and he tries to anticipate the objections of the readers.
I have one question about batting second. Is it true that batting second suppresses one’s traditional stats and might make star players wary of having lower rbi totals and even lower numbers of pitches to have free access to swing at? If that is true it might be one of the reasons managers keep certain players out of that spot. It might not….
Comment by enhanced performance — April 15, 2013 @ 5:19 pm
Something to consider on the subject of Cano/Gardner’s platoon splits: What about accounting for the fact LOOGYs almost always have large platoon splits that make them very good vs. lefties? Cano is a .355 WOBA hitter against lefties, for example, but what about when he is thrown at lefties who are specifically very good against lefties?
Comment by Ruki Motomiya — April 15, 2013 @ 5:53 pm
I’m serious. D4P makes it sound like it’s so obvious that Ethier should be in the 2 hole rather than 5th, so I’m just pointing out the reasons why it’s not. There is value in taking a pitch so Crawford can steal. There’s value in playing for a quick one-run lead in the first. Either you tell Ethier to hit like a 2-hitter, or you give up some opportunities.
Also, Ethier got an XBH about 9% of his PA’s last year, and under 11% of the time in his career. I don’t have the data for how often Ellis fails to get the runner over from 2nd to 3rd with no out, but I bet it’s a lot lower than 89%.
Finally, I mistyped on my previous post. If Ethier bats 2nd, AJ Ellis (or whoever) would be in the 5th spot behind Gonzalez, not the 6th. They only have 4 powerful hitters in the whole lineup. You don’t want 5 singles hitters (or worse) in a row. Those were my points.
I think it’s a great idea to have Cano batting 2nd, except for the fact that he’s currently the best hitter in the lineup (by quite a bit), and now the 3-4 of the Yankees lineup looks like the 6-7 of most other good teams’ lineups
I can’t tell either, as a fan of a team that just wasted good starts from Beckett and Kershaw while being unable to score. I don’t think any of us really give a bleep about having anyone good in the second half of the order, you need to score some damn runs and have your best hitters get the most at bats!
Comment by DodgersKingsoftheGalaxy — April 15, 2013 @ 7:17 pm
Well, I mean for saying stupid things in general.
It’s only notable when Wally Matthews isn’t saying something unintelligent and uninformed. He’s like Nick Cafardo without the friends in the industry.
Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — April 15, 2013 @ 7:51 pm
Well, do platoon advantages not stem from sabermetrics?
Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — April 15, 2013 @ 7:53 pm
Cano is a classic #2 hitter, just like Mark McGwire.
It is of some interest that the first comment involved Don Mattingly as a manager. In 1985, Billy Martin decided to “insanely” bat his best hitter…..none other than Mr. Mattingly 2nd after obtaining Ricky Henderson to bat leadoff. My recollection is that he only did this against Lefthanded starters and was immediately attacked for such non-traditional thought. The result was 146 runs for Henderson and 145 RBIs for Mattingly. Not exactly the same caliber of ballplayers in Gardner and Cano, but I think the same type of seemingly unorthodox thought with potentially surprising results.
Comment by Art Schachter — April 16, 2013 @ 12:52 am
I’ve never figured out why Mattingly refuses to bat AJ Ellis at the top of the lineup. He has a great OBP and takes a ton of pitches so Crawford has a chance to steal. It fits both traditional and SABR models of lineup construction.
And Mark Ellis has horrible platoon splits against RHP. He should never bat above 7th against RHP.
If you wanted to avoid hitting two of your lefties back-to-back if possible, but had to at one spot in the lineup (as seems to be the case with the Yankees), I would imagine that there would be two options to minimize damage against left-handed relievers in high-leverage situations.
1) Make sure that one of the back-to-back lefties is the lefty with the best wOBA against lefties to minimize platoon splits
2) Make sure that one of the back-to-back lefties is the least valuable overall lefty, such that it would not hurt as much to pinch hit a righty in a high leverage situation
This is the best reasoning I can think of for hitting Cano 2nd and having him be the one with the platoon issues potentially… hes their best LHB against LHP… they won’t get to shift on him as much with Gardner or it will have potentially greater consequences.
A lot of AL east teams are shifting Cano heavily and take a lot his pulled line drive singles to RF and turn them into “ground ball” outs. With Gardner on base (gets on base highest rate of anyone else usually), his speed will more often result in something on the shift being altered.