First, I am not trying to get a debate going about whether or not protection in a batting line up structure does or does not have a significant impact on a batters performance. I am, hopefully with an open mind, asking for some facts that one might be able to use, pro or con, in such a debate.
Our discussion about protection in the lineup at the scout.com forum about the cardinals http://mbd.scout.com/mb.aspx?S=321&F=2089#S=321&F=2089&T=356672 is winding down. There are two sides, those who believe protection has significant effect on the game with so far no clear examples where a batter moved to or from a protection slot and had their batting stats change significantly in the direction supporting protection, and those who say protection has no significant effect on batting and were able to show stats for every example raised that there was no significant impact.
1) Has any current MLB team manager gone on record pro or con the protection concept?
By on record, made a public statement or written statement to that effect. There are examples where one can infer that the manager uses this strategy, for instance, at http://www.thediamondangle.com/marasco/opan/protect.html, the author says:
“For fun, I did Matt Williams, as he spent some time protected by Barry last season.
Protected - 106 18 31 18 6 24 2 0 5
Unprotected - 295 51 91 66 32 67 13 1 17
Ave (.292 .308) 1st # is protected,
SLG (.453 .532) 2nd unprotected
OBA (.330 .376)
OPS (.783 .908)
What this looks like is that when Matty started to slump Dusty would slip Barry behind him. I guess Dusty believes in protection. “
So the author is inferring Dusty Baker supports the protection concept, but there is nothing in writing to back up this conclusion.
2) Are there any good examples with batting statistics where a player’s position in the line up was changed from before to after a power hitter, or vice versa, where there is enough at bats and no other circumstances that could explain the batting stats supporting the concept of protection?
Take the example above for instance. There are stats for before and after Bonds, with at least 100 ab in each sample, that show that Williams performance was worse in front of Bonds than after. But this does properly support the opposite of protection, since there is an alternate theory that Williams was put in front of Bonds when Williams was in a slump to try to help him. Without a time analysis of the two samples (eg as Williams started to get better at the plate, he was moved back to his other spots) neither theory can be deemed more likely than the other.
Another, perhaps better example of a suggested batting situation that on first glance might support protection, but on close examination there are other plausible reasons for the change in batting is Chris Duncan’s performance in 2006 for the Cardinals. Chris’ numbers improved considerably for the Cardinals compared to AAA, and he spent a lot of time batting in front of Albert Pujols, so this supports protection working right? However, closer examination shows two items that counter this conclusion. First, he was platooned against lefties, so his L/R pitcher splits were much different in AAA vs MLB. Second, if you look at his AB behind Pujols, there is not that much difference between the two. Longer term evidence not supporting the protection conclusion is that he is even better the start of this year than last year, despite the fact Albert is off to a horrible start, the worst slump in his MLB history, and just about the worst slump on the team. So one argument is that from AAA to 2006 to 2007 he is just maturing as a hitter, and has been getting bettor mentoring from the likes of McGuire, Pujols, and Larry Walker besides McCrae.
Any concrete, specific examples for these two questions, with links, would greatly be appreciated.