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  1. The scary thing is that one of Schumaker or Theriot is bound to lead off. So much for optimizing lineups.

    Comment by Andy Beard — February 1, 2011 @ 10:44 am

  2. Yeah, really. There’s just no way to optimize much with such mediocre-or-worse hitters in so, so many slots in the order. Or, rather, I guess you *can* optimize but you’re going to be optimizing some pretty meager output.

    The best optimization for this lineup this offseason would have probably involved making a run at some players would could actually…you know, hit.

    Comment by Jason B — February 1, 2011 @ 10:50 am

  3. Oh wait – they have Pujols! And Holliday! Never mind.

    Comment by Jason B — February 1, 2011 @ 10:53 am

  4. By The Book, isn’t batting Pujols third basically the worst lineup decision of all time?

    Comment by Lance W — February 1, 2011 @ 11:00 am

  5. Funny you should ask. Erik Manning posted an article about this very topic at our site, Gas House Graphs: Optimizing the Cardinal Lineup By The Book.

    Basically, the Cardinals would best be served by batting Holliday 2nd and Pujols 4th.

    Comment by Andy Beard — February 1, 2011 @ 11:11 am

  6. yea that’s basically what i would have expected. although given just how much better a hitter pujols is than pretty much anyone else i wouldn’t have been surprised if the optimal lineup actually had pujols hitting first or second so he gets the extra plate appearances.

    Comment by Jono411 — February 1, 2011 @ 11:13 am

  7. i know most cardinals fans would disagree, but i think that the cards should not extend pujols unless it’s for as cheap a deal as he has now. they are already fielding a team of mostly scrubs outside of pujols and holliday (and wainwright and carpenter). now imagine pujols making 30mil a year instead of 17 and wainwright’s contract is up so he makes more and then carpenter gets extended for more… and all of a sudden, it kind of feels like ryan theriot is too rich for their blood. the cards are having IMMENSE difficulty fielding a contending team with pujols, holliday, wainwright and carpenter making what they are now. now imagine pujols makes 10mil more a year, wainwright gets a 5mil bump and carpenter gets a big extension as well. can they really field a better team around these guys when those 4 can take up say $70+ mil (conservatively) by themselves? can they even field a good team around them now? maybe giving pujols 30mil a year is the worst thing that can happen to the cards for the next 8-10 years.

    Comment by phoenix2042 — February 1, 2011 @ 12:09 pm

  8. Im assuming theriot will probably be leading off. but you can add Benie Molina to the bottom portion of the lineup
    Lets say they have Molina, Schumaker, Punto, Pitcher, Theriot all in a row. Is there another team this century who has had 5 hitters so unlikely to hit an extrabase hit right in a row?
    Its like a dead ball era lineup

    Comment by mister_rob — February 1, 2011 @ 12:39 pm

  9. This makes for an interesting ’11 for Carpenter if Pujols extends. It seems the ideal situation for the Cardinals would be for him to have a decent season, decline his option and offer arb (they can do that, right?), collect the two draft picks, and fill the void with Lance Lynn or Mark Buehrle. Or, decline his option and negotiate a two-year deal at a lower AAV, but I don’t see that happening if he’s having a good enough year to warrant the extension.

    Comment by Greg Z — February 1, 2011 @ 1:18 pm

  10. Sadly, Bengie Molina would have been considered too morbidly obese to play in the Deadball Era. The opposition would have bunted him to death – literally. Bunt. Lunge. Wheeze. Plop. Cardiac Molina.

    Comment by Choo — February 1, 2011 @ 1:27 pm

  11. So… what would it cost to trade for Jose Reyes again?

    Comment by Samuel — February 1, 2011 @ 2:17 pm

  12. Punto is supposed to be a utility guy. Freese and his 20 HR power should be getting the majority of at bats at third, although his track record so far means I should probably qualify that statement with an “ideally” or some other such term.

    Comment by Samuel — February 1, 2011 @ 2:18 pm

  13. The Pirates’ opening day lineup in 2010 featured, starting with the 5 spot (2010 slugging in parentheses):

    Lastings Milledge (.380)
    Jeff Clement (.237)
    Andy LaRoche (.287)
    Zach Duke (.104) (pinch-hitters Ryan Church [.352] and Delwyn Young [.414])
    Ronny Cedeno (.382)
    Akinori Iwamura (.250)

    …which somehow peaks higher than the Cardinals lineup you put up, where Skip Schumaker has the best 2010 SLG at .338. Gog damn. Fear Ronny Cedeno!

    The great thing is that somehow the Pirates scored 11 runs that day.

    Comment by matt w — February 1, 2011 @ 3:16 pm

  14. Though there was at least one day when they strung together Clement-LaRoche-pitcher-Bobby Crosby (.298 SLG)-Iwamura for five straight batters with under .300 SLG, which is pretty impressive. OTOH they didn’t know that those guys were all going to be so bad, and have now dumped them all. The Cards are doing this on purpose.

    Comment by matt w — February 1, 2011 @ 3:22 pm

  15. I’m guessing batting the pitcher 1st and Pujols 9th would be far worse.

    Comment by Matt — February 1, 2011 @ 4:10 pm

  16. Yikes. That would be fun for the world outside of Fangraphs (WOOF) to discuss it ever came to be. For now the WOF did a good job breaking out the hypothetical.

    Comment by Mark — February 1, 2011 @ 6:41 pm

  17. The greatest myth in baseball is that the Cardinals are a mid-market team.

    The last time St. Louis finished below 4th in home attendance was 2004. The only year I have TV ratings for was 2009, but the Cardinals were 9th. Combine that with the fact that the Cardinals ownership owns nearly all the parking within reasonable walking distance of Busch, and you have a team that really has no discernible reason to have a lower payroll than Minnesota other than gross profits.

    Comment by gnomez — February 1, 2011 @ 7:39 pm

  18. “its like a deadball lineup…”

    almost as good a the comment which inspired this very article

    Comment by fredsbank — February 1, 2011 @ 7:48 pm

  19. what is their payroll? i was under the impression that it was sup 100mil but i could be wrong. but again, when everything is said and done, they can have holliday making 20 (how much is it exactly?), pujols making 30, carpenter making say 18 and wainwright making 20. so that’s 88mil to 4 players. now it could end up anywhere from 70-90mil on those 4 players once everyone is extended at market value (basically unless someone gives them a huge discount). theyre lucky to end up with 70mil to the 4 players… how can they field a competitive team with that kind of commitment?

    Comment by phoenix2042 — February 1, 2011 @ 8:19 pm

  20. i doubt the mets will trade him. hes not even 30 yet and had a pretty good year, even with the injuries. hes good for 15-20 homers, 40 doubles and double digit triples with a .280 BA, nevermind the 30-50 steals hes likely to have. then you have to consider that he is one of the very very few shortstops that can both hit and defend. he should be extended, and if he isn’t, then he is going to get a monster contract. the cards cannot afford another player making close to 20mil. i mean then you could be talking about the possibility of almost 100mil tied up in 5 players! only two teams can afford that: the yankees and the red sox.

    Comment by phoenix2042 — February 1, 2011 @ 8:25 pm

  21. Let’s say 30 to Pujols, 17 to Holliday, and 18 to Wainwright after 2012. So 65 to three players, and if Carpenter’s going to make 18 million as a 37 year old pitcher it won’t be with the Cardinals. In fact, I don’t see how he’d fit onto the team in any way unless he turns in a strong season and has his option picked up. It’s getting ahead of ouselves, but there are just too many cheaper alternatives that come with draft picks and less risk.

    And, even with the savings of Carpenter off the books the team is in financial trouble. Even if ownership increases payroll to 110 mil, which is a reach, they’d be forced to field a team around their top three paid players with less money than they are now. If the stars and scrubs formula is failing St. Louis now, and they resign Albert, then the team is in big trouble in a couple of years.

    Comment by Greg Z — February 2, 2011 @ 12:51 am

  22. I know tinkering with lineups yields very little change, but what about polar opposite ideas:
    On a team with 4 strong/5 weak hitters….which would be better?

    alternating bad/good or clustering your 4 good in front of your 5 bad?

    Does it matter? If you alternate them, they bad players will have much better RBI totals, but the good ones will have fewer. They’ll have fewer runs as well…perhaps fewer walks.
    If you cluster them, the leadoff strong player has poor RBI stats, but should score a ton and walk, too. The 2nd and 3rd strong hitters should have strong stats across the board, and the last good hitter, batting 4th, would have fewer walks and runs, but a ton of RBI. The bad players would just have low stats across the board, with the 5th batter having more RBI than normal.

    But which is best and does it matter?

    Comment by Dave — February 2, 2011 @ 12:17 pm

  23. you’re being too simplistic. there are more factors at play than merely ‘weak’ and ‘strong’ hitters

    there are factors like speed, contact etc.

    that said, aren’t the Cards a fascinating offensive team? They really could do what you’re suggesting – alternating ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ guys like a little league lineup…

    good stuff


    Comment by will@duckfromthepond — February 2, 2011 @ 12:34 pm

  24. Yeah kind weird according to book putting pujols 3rd trumps almost everything. I don’t unstand the snark because even the book has proven hitting the pitch 8th isn’t actually a bad idea its just that the edge is so slight its not a big difference. Its puzzling consider almost no major league manager uses anything the book is trying endear. Larussa’s stunt actually got people thinking to be more creative. I don’t agree with his constant lineups changes but most of the changes have to do with not really having the right pieces for the so called conventional approach. The Cardinals continue to have no obvious leadoff man. The best qualified to leadoff at this point according the book is David Freese.

    Comment by highrent — February 4, 2011 @ 8:03 pm

  25. …and then, 9 months later, the Cardinals led the NL in runs scored.

    Comment by Mojowo11 — September 21, 2011 @ 12:51 am

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