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Monday, February 25, 2008

Brewers Blog: Kendall hitting ninth? Possibly…

You are not smarter than me! I’ll see you in hell yet, Tony La Russa!

Manager Ned Yost has said for a week that he has a brain-full of ideas when it comes to his batting order, but it is way too early to commit to any one of them.

But one of the most interesting of possible orders would have Ryan Braun batting second, a pitcher batting eighth and catcher Jason Kendall batting ninth. This idea isn’t set yet, and it may not ever be used. It is just one of a flurry of ideas whizzing around inside the skipper’s head. St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa has done this some during the last few seasons.

Yost’s reasoning is that he wants Braun to have more plate apperances, but still be able to have guys on in front of him. So with Kendall’s ability to see pitches and get on base, it would essentially translate to Braun still batting third while racking up about 40 more plate appearances, as stats show. In this lineup, Prince Fielder would bat third in the order, but it would be like having him in the clean-up slot.

“Common sense tells me you want your best hitters to have the most at-bats,” Yost said.

Repoz Posted: February 25, 2008 at 08:58 PM | 28 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: brewers

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   1. JMM Posted: February 25, 2008 at 09:14 PM (#2699519)
So it's not because Kendall is now thought to be an even worse hitter than the Brewers' starting pitchers? Because I could totally see that happening at some point during the season....
   2. Crashburn Alley Posted: February 25, 2008 at 09:14 PM (#2699520)
I wonder if Yost also subscribes to the "spread out your outs" theory:

The 9-1-2 section of the order is the killer OBA guys. The 4-5-6-7 are the boppers. Three and eight are the easy outs, separated so the opposing pitcher doesn't get any easy stretches.


Apparently not if he wants to bat Fielder third.
   3. parkermo Posted: February 25, 2008 at 09:15 PM (#2699521)
#1 - my thoughts exactly.
   4. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 25, 2008 at 09:19 PM (#2699524)
How bout Jason Kendall, not hitting at all? If he's really that bad offensively, and he seems pretty bad defensively, why is he even playing?
   5. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: February 25, 2008 at 09:20 PM (#2699525)
One of the things that has to be part of Ned's "ponderings" is how to get pitchers to pitch to Fielder. After drawing 10 IBBs the first four months he was intentionally walked 11 times the last two. He walked 41 times over the last 1/3 of the season with a season monthly high of 24 in September.

Bill Hall or Corey Hart being a legit threat is just as big a need lineup wise as getting Braun more at bats.
   6. Danny Posted: February 25, 2008 at 09:24 PM (#2699530)
This is a great idea if the alternative is batting Hardy second.
   7. The District Attorney Posted: February 25, 2008 at 09:27 PM (#2699534)
Kendall is the perfect guy to do this with: decent OBP to turn the lineup over, but not a good enough overall hitter that you particularly want to maximize his plate appearances. As a bonus, Suppan is a pretty good-hitting pitcher, and Gallardo certainly looked like one last year (although Sheets may make up for both of them...) I hope they do this.

Oh, and thanks for the David Pinto link. I had a got-ugly-for-no-real-reason conversation a little while back ago about the lineup analyzer wanting to bat Brian Schneider 3rd, and was wondering why, if the optimum lineup features a crap hitter 3rd, no one had written an article about such a major revelation. Well, there's the article, anyway.
   8. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: February 25, 2008 at 09:27 PM (#2699535)
Danny:

Please elaborate on post 6.
   9. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: February 25, 2008 at 09:29 PM (#2699539)
Gallardo is a legit hitter for a pitcher. But as a group the Milwaukee staff stinks. Sheets is a joke. Capuano not much better. One of the items that undermines the Brewers offense is a staff that makes absolutely no contribution whatsoever.
   10. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: February 25, 2008 at 09:37 PM (#2699548)
One of the things that has to be part of Ned's "ponderings" is how to get pitchers to pitch to Fielder.

I'm not sure why. Let them walk Fielder if they like.

Has anyone ever done a legit follow up on Roger's Study.

It seems to me regularly batting a position player behind the pitcher only has a chance of working if the player is comfortable with it.
   11. PreservedFish Posted: February 25, 2008 at 09:39 PM (#2699551)
The 9-1-2 section of the order is the killer OBA guys. The 4-5-6-7 are the boppers.

I don't understand why the optimal lineup wouldn't be killer OBA guys 1-2-3 and boppers 5-6-7-8. That would delay the crappy hitters by one AB each, which results in 80+ ABs over a season. Right?
   12. Dandy Little Glove Man Posted: February 25, 2008 at 09:40 PM (#2699555)
I concur with the DA, except for his last sentence. Kendall is the ideal #9 hitter: below average overall but with a much better relative OBP than SLG. As a Cub fan, I hope they don't do this. If the Brewers try it from the beginning, my bet is that the #8 hitter will come up in an apparently big spot some time that first week, and the media will rail on Yost. Even though the benefits seem to outweigh the costs, the Brewers will then decide to go back to the conventional order.
   13. Swedish Chef Posted: February 25, 2008 at 09:45 PM (#2699564)
I don't understand why the optimal lineup wouldn't be killer OBA guys 1-2-3 and boppers 5-6-7-8. That would delay the crappy hitters by one AB each, which results in 80+ ABs over a season. Right?


I think what is meant with "killer" OBA in the 9th slot is "gets on base north of .300, barely, and with no power at all", you don't want that on top of the order.
   14. PreservedFish Posted: February 25, 2008 at 09:48 PM (#2699565)
#13

OK, let me rephrase. I don't understand why the optimal lineup has your crappy hitters batting #3 and #8. It seems to me that #4 and #9 make more sense.
   15. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: February 25, 2008 at 09:54 PM (#2699574)
Has anyone ever done a legit follow up on Roger's Study.

Lichtman, Tango and Dolphin's book goes into quite a bit of depth with batting order.

They found a small but detectable advantage in batting the pitcher 8th.
   16. Dandy Little Glove Man Posted: February 25, 2008 at 10:04 PM (#2699587)
OK, let me rephrase. I don't understand why the optimal lineup has your crappy hitters batting #3 and #8. It seems to me that #4 and #9 make more sense.

With regard to #3 v #4, it mostly relates to the first inning. Even if hitters #1 & #2 are both good, there's still about a 40% chance the #3 guy comes up with 2 out & none on. The run expectancy in that situation is near-zero regardless of how good he is. The #4 guy typically either comes up with men on or leads off the second, so he's more important. As a result of the first inning, the #3 hitter bats with 2 outs significantly more than any other spot, and it's a bit of a waste to put a top OBP guy up with 2 outs so frequently. Getting on base is much more valuable with fewer outs in the inning.
   17. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: February 25, 2008 at 10:09 PM (#2699593)
Gallardo is a legit hitter for a pitcher. But as a group the Milwaukee staff stinks. Sheets is a joke. Capuano not much better. One of the items that undermines the Brewers offense is a staff that makes absolutely no contribution whatsoever.

One of the best chapters in this book goes into whether a good high school player could at least hit as well as a major-league pitcher it he still plays regularly as a hobby. Basically the conclusion was negative, since some of the MLB pitchers who can't hit at all were awesome hitters in big-time college ball (Tim Hudson). The author had a long session with Paul Abbott and they eventually agreed that if you hit .400 in a good high school league you could probably hit .100 in the big leagues after a little coaching, whereas the average random guy would hit .000.

I think the only example he gave of a pitcher who was a crappy hitter even in high school was Ben Sheets. Just about every MLB pitcher was a good enough player to be a great hitter in high school.
   18. Danny Posted: February 25, 2008 at 10:14 PM (#2699595)
Danny:

Please elaborate on post 6.

Hardy is probably their 7th best hitter, so he shouldn't be batting second. I say this as a proud Braun and Hart owner in a keeper league.
   19. MikeinMI Posted: February 25, 2008 at 10:32 PM (#2699614)
Hardy is probably their 7th best hitter,


Hardy hits lefties well, I'd have him bat 2nd v lefties and 7th v righties.
   20. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: February 25, 2008 at 11:00 PM (#2699640)
Danny:

Understood.

I will say that Hardy is an organizational favorite, that the club thinks he has just now begun to recover from prior injuries and that his contact approach is more aligned with his manager's preferences. If you check Hardy struck out the least of the Brewers nominal regulars in 2007. And that appeals to some within the organization. Hence batting second.

I also think the club is still trying to cope with Hart's emergence.

Something to keep in mind about Milwaukee is that the club makes a determination about a player early on his career and it takes a LOT for the club to alter their perception.

If they think Rickie Weeks is a second baseman then godd*mmit he's a second baseman.

If they think J.J. Hardy is a number two hitter in the major leagues then daggummit he will hit number two.

Bill Hall and Corey Hart have to seemingly scrap for attention because at some point they were deemed to be roster fillers as opposed to potential regulars.

The move of Ryan Braun is purely in response to the club believing that 2008 is their CHANCE. Barring that the club's designation of Braun as a third baseman would have held firm.

I know that may read as odd to some. But that is how it works in the inner sanctum of Miller Park.
   21. MM1f Posted: February 25, 2008 at 11:43 PM (#2699679)
"Basically the conclusion was negative, since some of the MLB pitchers who can't hit at all were awesome hitters in big-time college ball (Tim Hudson)."

I've always wondered how Hudson would have hit if he was drafted by an NL team. Not only do AL pitchers not get to hit in the bigs (save 5 abs during interleague), and probably take no BP compared to NL pitchers, but NL pitchers also get to hit in AA and AAA ball but AL ones don't. So Hudson had to go 8 years between playing CF at Auburn and the next time he got more than 8 ABs.

He predictably sucked at the plate in 05, since he barely touched a bat for 8 years, and sucked in 06 but struck out less. Last year he might have shown that 05 and 06 were just rust being shaken off as he hit .263 (20-76) with 3 doubles and a fewer Ks yet again.

But then again this is pitcher's hitting, so small sample sizes and tons more variables than looking at hitters hitting.. so who knows
   22. MM1f Posted: February 25, 2008 at 11:52 PM (#2699689)
Another big league pitcher who was a stud college hitter...
Jason Jennings (All-America as DH and RHP at Baylor) was a real good hitter for a pitcher his first couple years in the bigs, granted Coors helps, then a decent one in years 3 and 4 but a downright zero since then. Part of that could be pitchers being more careful with him once they saw he could actually hit and part of it could every year he was in the bigs was one more year removed from working hard on his hitting he was.

Wes Obermueller played OF at Iowa and is a career .237 hitter and managed to go 15-39 the one year he was a regular in the rotation, and this getting at bats

Sorry to veer this conversation off course, I just think it is a fun topic.
   23. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: February 25, 2008 at 11:56 PM (#2699697)
NL pitchers also get to hit in AA and AAA ball but AL ones don't.

Even then, the NL pitchers only get to hit when it is an NL team's affiliate vs. another NL team's affiliate. Which must be about 25% of the time, since the IL and PCL both contain half AL and half NL affiliates. So even then even the NL pitchers only get to hit in half of their games.
   24. MM1f Posted: February 26, 2008 at 12:00 AM (#2699701)
"
Even then, the NL pitchers only get to hit when it is an NL team's affiliate vs. another NL team's affiliate. Which must be about 25% of the time, since the IL and PCL both contain half AL and half NL affiliates. So even then even the NL pitchers aren't hitting most of the time."

I thought the rules of the home park prevailed at AA and AAA? So NL at NL - pitchers hit. AL at NL - pitchers hit. NL at AL - DHs. AL at AL. DHs

I watch most of my AA/AAA games at AL minor league stadiums, and I don't remember seeing DHs at the one NL AA park I've been to a handful of times - though I could be wrong.
   25. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: February 26, 2008 at 12:03 AM (#2699706)
I used to go to a lot of Red Barons games, and when the Yankees or Red Sox or Orioles affiliates were visiting, they used a DH. I remember because it seemed like it was always Jim Rushford.

Since the late 1980s, usage has become the following: in AA and AAA games, the DH is used unless both teams are farm clubs of NL teams, in which case pitchers bat. In class A or lower games, the DH is always used.
   26. MM1f Posted: February 26, 2008 at 12:08 AM (#2699709)
Ah, thanks

Jim Rushford..
Now theres a AAA classic I remember
   27. Computers are smart Posted: February 26, 2008 at 01:43 PM (#2699954)
“Common sense tells me you want your best hitters to have the most at-bats,” Yost said.

Isn't the corollary to this that you want your worst hitters (pitchers) to have the least at-bats. If Kendall projects with a lower OBP than the collective of the Brewers SPs, then by all means bat Jason 9th.
   28. rfloh Posted: February 26, 2008 at 01:56 PM (#2699960)
#27

But pitchers are often pinch hit for already. Regardless of whether they are hitting 8th or 9th, their at bats can be minimised that way. Harder to do that with a catcher.

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