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  1. Unfortunately Ron Washington is the Rangers manager, so this has no chance of actually happening even though it really needs to.

    Comment by Greg — October 20, 2011 @ 11:07 am

  2. I’d go with this:

    1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
    2. Michael Young, 1B
    3. Nelson Cruz, RF
    4. Mike Napoli, C
    5. Adrian Beltre, 3B
    6. Elvis Andrus, SS
    7. Josh Hamilton, LF
    8. Craig Gentry, CF
    P. Colby Lewis, P

    According to Tango theory, the third hitter gets the most opportunities to ground into a double play. Therefore, Cruz’s superior speed and higher K rate play better in the three hole, as does his current power surge. Beltre’s lower K rate plays better in the 5 hole, when non-homerun hits are at a premium when compared to the 3 and 4 spots. Finally, Andrus’ speed is a huge asset in the 6 hole, especially in front of Hamilton, because Andrus is more likely to put himself in scoring position via steal or extra base on a hit, taking most advantage of Hamilton’s high contact rate and diminished power by maximizing chance to produce runs on singles.

    Comment by Eminor3rd — October 20, 2011 @ 11:26 am

  3. Yeah it’s unfortunate all the great offensive talent the Rangers have is minimized by the boneheaded manager they have.

    Comment by Don't Mess With The Gut — October 20, 2011 @ 11:30 am

  4. Batting order is so insignificant that using the term minimized is laughable.

    Comment by DavidCEisen — October 20, 2011 @ 11:42 am

  5. I realize this is not the point of the article, but I like your idea of switching Cruz and Beltre. Cruz has a lower career GB%, for what that is worth, which gives a better advantage on potential DPs.

    Comment by futurecfo — October 20, 2011 @ 11:53 am

  6. Boom

    Comment by futurecfo — October 20, 2011 @ 11:53 am

  7. In the WS I’ll take any advantage I can get no matter how small.

    Comment by Pogotheostrich — October 20, 2011 @ 11:58 am

  8. I don’t think there’s any manager in the majors who would drop Hamilton

    Comment by bender — October 20, 2011 @ 12:17 pm

  9. I can get behind this (lol).

    Comment by Kyle — October 20, 2011 @ 12:25 pm

  10. Sure, but I assume that Washington has a better understanding of how moving Hamilton out of the 3 spot will affect the team. We may dismiss the notion that ‘team moral’ or ‘Hamilton’s feelings/ego’ have minimal affect on performance, but we also know that batting order has minimal affect as well.

    So the question is: Do you make a change that has a known minimal positve impact with a risk of unknown, though likely small, downside? Probably stick with the status quo for me.

    Comment by DavidCEisen — October 20, 2011 @ 12:29 pm

  11. Watching Hamilton on that PA last night I thought the exact same thing. He had hittable pitches and just looked bad. I didn’t realize he had a bad groin until they said something during the game and then it made more sense as to why he looks so bad at the plate.

    Comment by chuckb — October 20, 2011 @ 12:40 pm

  12. But when you figure in the fact that 2 of the Rangers’ 3 worst hitters are hitting in the first 3 spots in the order, it matters. If you move BOTH Hamilton and Andrus down, and move Napoli, Cruz, and Beltre up, there’s a difference.

    Comment by chuckb — October 20, 2011 @ 12:42 pm

  13. there’s been a noticable theme these playoffs(not that it’s not there is previous years) of managers batting players in the same spot eeven though they are injured. the yankees did it with Arod, the rangers with hamilton, the tigers with avila, the phillies with pence.

    Comment by sean — October 20, 2011 @ 12:52 pm

  14. Your analysis of that swing is wrong. (Ignore the first GIF, the second gives the most information.) He is a touch early – you can tell as his front foot hits the ground he has to hold back his hands for a split second. Since his lower body is slightly early, it looks to you like it’s an arm-y swing, which it is.

    That’s not to say I disagree with your sentiment. Perhaps he shouldn’t be batting as high as he is, it’s just that this video doesn’t really prove anything except that his timing was off on that pitch.

    Comment by Telo — October 20, 2011 @ 12:55 pm

  15. polanco too

    Comment by joshcohen — October 20, 2011 @ 12:56 pm

  16. The book would probably say this is the optimal order, assuming Hamilton is not quite 100%, but close:

    1. Kinsler – top 3 hitter, +speed
    2. Beltre – top 3 hitter, all around
    3. Young – 4th/5th best hitter
    4. Napoli – top 3 hitter, +iso
    5. Hamilton – 4th/5th best hitter, iso
    6. Cruz – 6th best hitter
    7. Andrus – 7th best hitter
    8. Murphy – 8th…
    9. P

    Comment by Telo — October 20, 2011 @ 1:02 pm

  17. I don’t know that batting order really had that much impact on the final score last night. Let’s say Beltre, Cruz, and Napoli are 2, 3, and 4 and Young, Hamilton, and Andrews are 5, 6, and 7. You very likely would get a similar outcome with Napoli homering from the 4 spot and Young, Hamilton, and Andrews making the bottom of the lineup a cakewalk. Like others have said, batting order just does not ultimately matter that much.

    Comment by JohnOrpheus — October 20, 2011 @ 1:08 pm

  18. This may have been the optimal regular season order, but it still assumes Hamilton is better right now than Cruz. Switch those two and you’re in business (and remarkably close to Dave’s suggestion).

    Either way, Napoli hitting seventh kind of feels like LeBron coming off the bench, doesn’t it?

    Comment by Bryan — October 20, 2011 @ 1:13 pm

  19. Yea, Hamilton is an unknown, but I don’t buy Dave’s assessment. I was basically assuming he is at 90% ~ wRC+ 125ish.

    I think the biggest travesties of Cracky’s lineups are:

    – Nap batting so low, as you said
    – Andrus batting at/near the top
    – Young batting 4th, probably should be 6/7 before he bats cleanup

    Exactly where you bat players is less important than having the best guys up front. 1/2/4 should really be your best 3 hitters, and when you have a lineup like theirs, having wRC+ 86 Andrus anywhere near the top 5 is just incorrect.

    Comment by Telo — October 20, 2011 @ 1:32 pm

  20. Also (not to pile on)

    “Here’s a better angle on the fastball directly preceding the out, in which Hamilton fouls off a pitch he should have absolutely crushed.”

    This happens a couple times an inning.

    Comment by Telo — October 20, 2011 @ 1:35 pm

  21. I don’t think LaRussa would hesitate to. In these playoffs he has dropped Holliday from his cleanup spot for Berkman and Freese based on Holliday not being 100 percent. Also in 2006 when Scott Rolen (who was 16th in the majors in WAR that year) was dealing with a shoulder injury he actually benched him in favor of Scott Spezio. Just to name a couple of examples.

    Comment by BigSteve — October 20, 2011 @ 1:51 pm

  22. The Cardinals moved Holliday down in the order a couple games due to injury.

    Comment by Anon — October 20, 2011 @ 2:01 pm

  23. Quantify ‘it matters’ and ‘a difference.’

    Comment by DavidCEisen — October 20, 2011 @ 2:19 pm

  24. I like the idea of dropping Hamilton down in the order right now. The swings shown above along with his declined production over the past few weeks shows he really is not healthy. Even though he is one of the best hitters in the game and dropping him down would look really unconventional, this is the world series and I think it should be done. I also like the idea of dropping andrus down but I would put him seventh and Hamilton sixth. I would also flip Napoli and Cruz. With the way Cruz swung the bat in the ALCS, I think he should be protected by Napoli. Napoli showed last night that he can produce without a big hitter behind him. I know Cruz did that all last series without a big hitter behind him as well but I would like to see Cruz hitting clean-up more than Napoli.

    Comment by ExtraBases — October 20, 2011 @ 2:23 pm

  25. Tony LaRussa has the resume to do whatever he wants to a player of any caliber (Maybe not Albert). Ron Washington would lose his job in a heart beat if he were at odds with the best player on his roster. Players make more money, draw more fans and flat out have a bigger impact on whether a team wins or loses. So a manager better stay on good terms with his players. I don’t know how Josh Hamilton would react to getting dropped in the line-up, but my hunch is he’s proud and competitive like most of us and would be upset (even if he didn’t lash out publicly) and Ron Washington probably has more insight into what that reaction would be then any of us.

    Comment by Preston — October 20, 2011 @ 2:43 pm

  26. Considering that the higher a player hits in the order, the more PA’s he is likely to have the difference could be an extra plate appearance for a better hitter (at this time).

    Comment by cobradc23 — October 20, 2011 @ 2:52 pm

  27. Hamilton definitely looks injured, having videoscouted most of his at-bats the last two years. He has been weakly flying out meatballs in the playoffs that would have been planted 450 feet two months ago. This is not Josh Hamilton, MVP, hitting in this World Series. It’s a player doing the best he can with limited physical tools at the moment.

    Comment by Phantom Stranger — October 20, 2011 @ 2:57 pm

  28. If Napoli bat higher he would have had one more ab in that game. In a one run game, that certainly could have made a difference, imo.

    Comment by Zach — October 20, 2011 @ 3:04 pm

  29. And oddly enough, the Yankees, Tigers and Phillies are all eliminated, and the Rangers are down 1-0 in the Series. Not saying that’s the ONLY reason, but uh, maybe there’s something to changing lineups in response to injuries.

    Comment by Ian R. — October 20, 2011 @ 3:23 pm

  30. …and Washington elects to go with a virtually identical lineup for game two. The only change is Gentry in for Murphy in the 8th spot.


    Comment by David — October 20, 2011 @ 4:40 pm

  31. As Kevin Goldstein wrote, the in-game stuff is less than 10% of a manager’s job. I think it is a joke to see so many people pretending they have the answers to solving what is wrong with the Rangers. First off, there’s obviously not much wrong with the Rangers given the fact that they are in the WS for the 2nd year in a row, and they still have a legit shot to win it this year. And while I agree that the Rangers’ current batting order would not be my first choice were this a computer simulation, we have to remember that this is not a computer simulation. APBA and Strat are great games and all . . . but managing a real life team offers wrinkles that, frankly, none of us can fully appreciate from these cheap seats known as our couches.

    Sports is a results based industry. The results say Ron Washington is doing a heckuva job.

    Comment by Matt — October 20, 2011 @ 4:46 pm

  32. I am in the ‘Washington may know the intangibles’ camp. None of us know better than Washington how Hamilton would react or how Cruz or Napoli would perform if they were to take Hamilton’s spot in the lineup during the World Series, etc. If Hamilton got upset by it, would Cruz or Napoli be effected psychologically, knowing who they were ‘replacing’?This is the World Series, after all, and nerves are on edge as it is. For all we know, there might be some beef already between Napoli and Hamilton, etc.

    Comment by Ian — October 20, 2011 @ 4:56 pm

  33. The only problem is that the all-RHB 3-4-5 proposed here will get buzz sawed by Dotel. He’s a ROOGY, but insanely effective against RHB. You are basically handing an inning to the Cards at that point.

    Comment by AA — October 20, 2011 @ 6:19 pm

  34. Oh, well if Kevin Goldstein said it then shit, it’s gotta be right.

    Even if it’s 10% of the job, it’s the part of the job that effects the game the most… much more than bringing cupcakes into the clubhouse, and telling hitters to “wait for the ball to get deep”. Managers are a joke. The best ones are those who stay out of the way of the game on offense, use bullpens effectively, and who have the respect of players.

    But you know all that. You read Kevin Goldstein.

    Plus, no one is trying to “solve” anything. It’s called optimizing. If you think Cracky McWashington pens perfect lineups every night, well, you’re probably a Texas fan. Or a friend of Ron’s from the crack house.

    Comment by Telo — October 20, 2011 @ 6:36 pm

  35. In order to see any effect we’d need to see healthy Josh side by side with injured Josh and then be able to confidently attribute any differences to injury. That’s likely not as easy as it sounds.

    Hamilton is a hitting mechanic’s wet dream especially among the “tip” crowd.

    I’m guessing even a healthy Josh has had plenty of swings like that … especially against a LHP on a slider.

    Strange that his groin is injured but he’s still able to chase down fly balls at the track.

    Even looking at various clips and pics of Hammy’s swing, there are plenty of times where he is “upright” at contact, instead of slightly back with a very rigid front leg, so even then I don;t know that we could chalk it up to an injured groin.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — October 20, 2011 @ 6:41 pm

  36. I’m sorry, Telo, but your assertion that managers are a joke reveals only your lack of understanding. Managing a team of people is not about knowing the best formula for RC/G or what not. If it were that simple then all managers in baseball would have Mathematics degrees from an Ivy League school.

    I’m no Rangers fan for what it’s worth . . . just trying to present a viewpoint that says the arm chairs here, me included, really don’t know all the variables that go into managing a team, and it is ignorant of us to assume we could do half as good as Ron Washington or any other manager because we have a calculator.

    Comment by Matt — October 20, 2011 @ 7:54 pm

  37. If Hamilton gets upset, that’s his problem. A true professional would swallow his pride and do what’s best for the team.

    Comment by Chris — October 20, 2011 @ 11:36 pm

  38. I would ask Josh if I were Ron, hey “let’s get crazy here, you are frustrated and hurt….let’s put Nap up in the three and bring you down to the 7….what’s Tony gonna think about that! Line it out and let’s get this thing closed soon! Food for thought, from a very longtime Ranger Fan.

    Comment by james — October 21, 2011 @ 1:20 am

  39. Good thing he didn’t take your advice last night. With nobody hitting, the order played out to perfection!

    Comment by Bill — October 21, 2011 @ 10:39 am

  40. If I’m Wash, I’m going to try to go lefty-righty as much as possible. LaRussa is OCD level insane when it comes to the handed-matchups. Don’t let him use Dotel to blaze through an inning. Mix it up, make LaRussa use all his weapons.

    As for Hamilton, I agree that you can’t just move him down. Statistically, probably, but this isn’t a computer simulation. If Hamilton’s feelings get hurt, Wash could be out of a job.

    Comment by Antonio Bananas — October 21, 2011 @ 11:51 am

  41. I think all this amateur psychology about the impact that being moved down in the batting order might have on Hamilton is much ado about nothing.

    This is a man whose life was a complete shambles a few years ago. After what he’s been through, do you really believe that his feelings are going to be hurt by a lineup change? That’s crazy, in my opinion. Just because a few athletes doesn’t mean they all are. Hamilton’s psyche is not going to be crushed by being dropped in the batting order, especially with his injury problem!

    Comment by stratobill — October 21, 2011 @ 2:19 pm

  42. My left post left out the words, “are prima-donnas”, as in, “Just because a few athletes are prima-donnas doesn’ mean that they all are”.

    Comment by stratobill — October 21, 2011 @ 2:21 pm

  43. I couldn’t agree more that Hamilton looks injured and is swinging like he’s pulled a muscle somewhere–his groin in this case. But while I agree with you that as long as he’s swinging the bat like a Punch and Judy hitter and belongs further down in the lineup, I’d also say that Ron Washington doesn’t have the apricots (or the good sense) to pull the trigger on a lineup demotion fearing that Hamilton would sulk and pout if he did…

    Sana Monica, Ca

    Comment by Cliffoed — October 21, 2011 @ 9:01 pm

  44. Are you compensating by using a word twice unnecessarily? I don’t think the first “left” needs to be there.

    Comment by Ian R. — October 22, 2011 @ 1:10 am

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