Offseason Notes, Featuring an Optimized Sox Lineup

Marginally Important News
In which the author tells the truth, but tells it slant.

Winter Meetings Acquisitions, Complete List
MLB Trade Rumors has an exhaustive list of all the moves teams have made since this past Sunday. I don’t know exactly how you’d do it, but I’m almost positive that some sort of drinking game could be made of this.

Mariners Are Intercontinental, Even When French Toast Is Absent*
The Constantly Handsome Ben Badler informs us that, amidst the chaos of the Winter Meetings, the Mariners gave 17-year-old Dominican Esteilon Peguero (see video below) the fourth-highest signing bonus ever for an international free agent, at $2.9 million.

*Approximately 13 seconds of googling reveals that the Dominican Republic is, indeed, considered part of North America. The sentiment, at least, remains the same.

Complete Rule 5 Analysis
I don’t know for a fact that John Sickels is a gangsta, but he certainly plays one on the internet.

Warning: Soundtrack might be excessively caliente.

The Red Sox Lineup, Optimized
It’s pretty clear that, with their recent acquisitions of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, that the Boston Red Sox will feature a bonkers lineup this season. But how bonkers? And which shape, exactly, will it take?

ESPN’s Buster Olney has opined that the Sox lineup will take shape as pictured above.

That very well may be so. It’s generally known that Crawford doesn’t care for leading off. The other player who profiles as a “traditional” leadoff-type — i.e. Jacoby Ellsbury — has only 84 plate appearances and a negative WAR to show for his 2010 season.

For the benefit of esses and gees, I ran those same players from above through the lineup optimizer tool at Baseball Musings. For the two inputs, on-base and slugging percentages, I used the (generally optimistic) Bill James projections available here at the site. For Gonzalez’s numbers — which are adjusted for the cavernous and horrible PETCO Park — I used something closer to, although slightly less optimistic than, the Fan Projections, which have been entered largely after he signed with the Sox. (In any case, Gonzalez had both the highest OBP and SLG, so he ends up in the spot where the best player should go.)

Here are the results:

1. Kevin Youkilis
2. Adrian Gonzalez
3. J.D. Drew
4. David Ortiz
5. Dustin Pedroia
6. Carl Crawford
7. Jed Lowrie
8. Jarrod Saltalamacchia
9. Jacoby Ellsbury

Some notes:

• By this method, Drew and Pedroia are roughly interchangeable.
• Saltalamacchia and Ellsbury bat eighth and ninth, respectively, in the 30-best permutations of the lineup.
• Youkilis bats leadoff in over 20 of the optimal scenarios.
• Approximately 0.3 runs separates the very best and very worst lineups.
• That’s a difference of about four or five wins over the course of a season.

Using the Bill James numbers, this lineup produces 5.951 runs per game — a number that would exceed last year’s league leaders, the New York Yankees, by 0.65 runs and the Sox’ own 2010 lineup by 0.90 runs.Those are both unlikely contingencies.

The Olney version of the lineup is projected to produce about 0.05 runs fewer per game — or about a win fewer over the course of the season. Of course, the Baseball Musings tool accounts neither for baserunning of any kind, nor something more abstract like “player comfort,” so that number could well be even lower.

Image shamelessly stolen from Red Sox West.



Print This Post



Carson Cistulli has just published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
John
Guest
5 years 7 months ago

Olney’s lineup is absolutely bonkers. Lowrie batting ahead of Drew? Really? (For that matter, why is Lowrie even in there instead of Scutaro?)

If I had my druthers, the lineup would look something like this:

Crawford
Pedroia
Gonzalez
Youkilis
Ortiz
Drew
Scutaro
Saltalamacchia
Ellsbury

It will be interesting to see if the Red Sox decide to keep Ellsbury at the top of the lineup for another year; if they see Crawford as a middle of the order hitter, they could run into problems with Crawford, Ortiz and Drew lined up one after another against teams with tough lefthanded pitchers.

Brian
Guest
Brian
5 years 7 months ago

Lowrie’s in there instead of Scutaro because he’s the better hitter of the two by a margin that almost certainly outweighs any possible defensive superiority on the part of Scutaro (who is an average defensive shortstop, at best).

Even if you do start Scutaro, which you shouldn’t, hitting him 7th is inexplicable. He’s a replacement-level hitter. He should not be getting more PA than anybody in that lineup, under any imaginable circumstances. Maybe you bat him eighth if you believe in the concept that No. 9 is more important than No. 8 because of its contiguity to the better hitters. But there’s just no way you hit him 7th.

Synovia
Member
Synovia
5 years 7 months ago

“? (For that matter, why is Lowrie even in there instead of Scutaro?)”

Because hes about 4WAR better as a player.

Andy S
Guest
Andy S
5 years 7 months ago

I’m totally confused. Tom Tango showed that the best player should bat 4th. Then 1st and 2nd. Then 3rd and 5th. Then down the lineup.

OBP preference given to leadoff, speed preference given to 5 and 6 batters, power preference given to 3rd batter.

chuckb
Guest
chuckb
5 years 7 months ago

that’s not exactly what Tango’s analysis showed. His analysis showed that the best 3 batters should hit 1, 2, and 4 with the one w/ the most power batting 4th. 1 and 2 should be your best OBP guys w/ the #2 hitter having more power than the #1. #5 and #3 are roughly the same hitter w/ the #5 hitter having more power than #3. The number 6-9 hitters should bat in order of decreasing wOBA except in the NL where you could bat the pitcher 8th and you could push a faster player closer to #6 or 7 so that you could take advantage of his speed.

Bronnt
Member
Bronnt
5 years 7 months ago

Tango also showed that batting order is worth almost nothing in terms of actual value unless you create insane line-ups with the pitcher batting fourth and Jose Lopez leading off.

Adam
Guest
Adam
5 years 7 months ago

John,

It’s widely known Crawford doesn’t like bating leadoff. As far as Lowrie goes he starting hitting for power last season (over .900 OPS). Even though it might have been a partial fluke, his scouting reports states that he has +power for a middle infielder.

Adam
Guest
Adam
5 years 7 months ago

John,

One more thing, Lowrie is a switch hitter, and projects to gain some power, that is why he has Drew behind Lowrie. If he didnt you would have 3 lefties in a row, and the other team will bring in a lefty speacialist.

lester banks
Guest
lester banks
5 years 7 months ago

I’d prefer to not have to watch soulless J.D. Drew taking called third strikes out of the No. 3 slot. I don’t care how snappy he looks as a percentages player, I loathe him with every fiber of my body.

That is all.

Bronnt
Member
Bronnt
5 years 7 months ago

Kevin Youkilis is much more soulful-he in fact begins every at-bat with a short blues number.

phoenix2042
Member
Member
phoenix2042
5 years 7 months ago

i would have:
1. pedroia
2.crawford
3. gonzalez
4. youkilis
5. ortiz
6. lowrie
7. drew
8. catcher
9. elsbury

although they can do something when they face a lefty that they split the lefties up more or clump them more against a righty starter. but this way, you never have more than 2 lefties in a row and crawford doesnt have to lead off, but you still get him at the top of the lineup. elbury is the second leadoff guy. i would love to have him lead off, but then you can have 3 lefties in a row… or if youre really crazy, you can go: elsbury, crawford, gonzo, ortiz, drew and just have all your lefties together!

Jim Lahey
Guest
Jim Lahey
5 years 7 months ago

Crawford.. never heard more “he wants to do this” “he doesnt want to do that” from a baseball player.

Want him to play CF? Nope. CC only wants to play LF.
Want him to leadoff? Nope. CC doesn’t want to leadoff.

Matt R.
Guest
Matt R.
5 years 7 months ago

Alfonso Soriano ring a bell?

Alireza
Guest
5 years 7 months ago

The difference is that Soriano was bad at 2B and is bad at leading off. Carl Crawford is an excellent traditional number 2 hitter and is good at LF.

Synovia
Member
Synovia
5 years 7 months ago

For those of you who want Pedroia leading off:

Just for the record here:

Pedroia:

Leadoff : 354 PA, .693 OPS
2nd: 1844 PA, .850 OPS
Others: 272PA, .875 OPS

Ellsbury:

Leadoff : 1229 PA, .709 OPS
Others: 281 PA , .815 OPS

Now, Pedroia’s 350 PA at leadoff isn’t a huge amount, but its big enough that the drastic difference between it and his normal performance is probably real. He’s either not comfortable there, or hitting Leadoff is actually really hard. Ellsbury’s numbers are actuallly really similar to Pedroia’s if you look at them by spot in the order.

Synovia
Member
Synovia
5 years 7 months ago

Just looked at JD Drew’s, and Carl Crawford’s stats.

All hit significantly worse leadoff. Crawfod has the smallest difference between his normal performance and leadoff.

Mr Punch
Guest
Mr Punch
5 years 7 months ago

Pedroia’s leadoff record may be affected by when he led off, as he tends to start off slowly. We need another order, of course, with Cameron in place of Drew or Ortiz. (Ortiz is another one who doesn’t want to bat in certain slots.)

The Real Scott Mitchell
Guest
The Real Scott Mitchell
5 years 7 months ago

It’s easy:

Hit Pedroia third.

1. Ellsbury
2. Crawford
3. Pedroia
4. Gonzo
5. Youk
6. Ortiz
7. Drew
8. Lowrie
9. Catcher

Not optimal with the lefty/righty splits, but Pedroia posted the highest ISO of his career before he got hurt. Not crazy to think he could hit 25 hr out of the three hole and split up the top tier lefties.

Boxkutter
Guest
Boxkutter
5 years 7 months ago

This is probably how I would set it up. Maybe swap Lowrie and Drew, but that is all just going with the hotter bat. And against really good LH starters, isn’t Mike Cameron still with Boston? You could sub out Drew and put in Cameron in RF (or move Ellsbury to RF and Cameron in CF).

Wham Bam
Guest
Wham Bam
5 years 7 months ago

Cistulli is a blowjob – a hack with no writing skills and stupid jokes.

Dropping Knowledge
Guest
Dropping Knowledge
5 years 7 months ago

Aren’t blowjobs a good thing?

Wham Bam
Guest
Wham Bam
5 years 7 months ago

Blowjobs are good if you are getting one…if you are a guy referred to as a “blowjob” or a “blowjob” it’s not flattering.

The guy is a clown – period.

Joshua Maciel
Guest
5 years 7 months ago

Using the Bill James and Fan Projections on Fangraphs, the Red Sox project to 64 WAR this year (114 wins assuming 50 win replacement level). So something tells me we should take them with a grain of salt (or 10).

wpDiscuz