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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Bronx Baseball Daily: Should your best hitter bat third in the lineup?

I should have ran this earlier but I was in complete comment shock for over a week. “Crucially, the 1-2 hitters—Bobby Richardson and maybe Tony Kubek, if I remember correctly—were on base a lot, despite having modest averages in the .270 range.”

My ideal lineup would have three players at the top who are known for their OBP (on-base percentage). If we used the Yankees as an example, I’d place Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter in the top three spots since those three are known to get on base and have a knack of playing ABC Baseball.

Hypothetically, let’s say the bases are loaded with Ellsbury at third, Gardner at second and Jeter at first; it’s a crucial game that could mean the Yankees wind up in the postseason or sit at home for another year. Would you want your best hitter to come to plate and have a chance of putting the Yankees in the lead? Of course you would, which is why it’s ideal for your best player to hit in the clean-up spot, or fourth in the order.

In 2013, out of the 30 teams in the league, 3 of them had their best hitter batting second, 14 of them had their best hitter batting third, nine of them had their best hitter batting fourth and two teams a piece who had their best hitter batting fifth and sixth. Out of the 15 highest scoring teams in the league, 40% of teams had their best hitter batting third.

There’s no right or wrong way to put together a lineup that circles around your best player, but the best hitter on the team doesn’t always have to bat third. Research shows the lineup that is unconventional often scores more runs, and some MLB teams are beginning to listen to statistics.

It’s an ideal thought to have the best player hit fourth: there’s the power, there’s the high contact rate and a greater chance for an RBI. Teams form their lineups in ways their best hitter can increase run production, but maybe it’s time teams broaden their minds and start toying with the lineup a bit. It’s not only about having the best players, it’s also where you put them to make an effective lineup.

Repoz Posted: March 11, 2014 at 01:27 PM | 50 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sabermetrics, yankees

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   1. PreservedFish Posted: March 11, 2014 at 01:48 PM (#4669605)
I really like The Book's assertion that the #3 spot is best suited to a lower-OBP slugger type. It does make sense, even if nobody at any point in the last century was able to reason it out.
   2. madvillain Posted: March 11, 2014 at 01:55 PM (#4669611)
Isn't the really important thing from the lineup analysis work not to much who bats where, but that you shouldn't bunch all your shitty hitters together? Basically you don't want 3 "easy outs" in a row at the 7,8,9 spot.
   3. cardsfanboy Posted: March 11, 2014 at 02:07 PM (#4669617)

Isn't the really important thing from the lineup analysis work not to much who bats where, but that you shouldn't bunch all your shitty hitters together? Basically you don't want 3 "easy outs" in a row at the 7,8,9 spot.

I thought the conclusion was the opposite of that. You lump your best hitters together to maximize your chance of scoring in those and put the crappy hitters together so that they don't hurt the rest of the lineup.

   4. The kids disappeared, now Der-K has too much candy Posted: March 11, 2014 at 02:12 PM (#4669619)
1 - bill james said that years earlier as well.
   5. madvillain Posted: March 11, 2014 at 02:32 PM (#4669627)
I thought the conclusion was the opposite of that. You lump your best hitters together to maximize your chance of scoring in those and put the crappy hitters together so that they don't hurt the rest of the lineup.


It doesn't really matter that much is the big takeway, but in the NL, teams could gain a very slight advantage by not having the pitcher bat 9th, where he'll be grouped with the top too often.

Link
   6. zenbitz Posted: March 11, 2014 at 02:38 PM (#4669630)
No. 2nd. Next question.
   7. deputydrew Posted: March 11, 2014 at 02:45 PM (#4669634)
Who is the last MVP winner (nearly unanimous at that) to hit #5 in his team's lineup?
   8. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: March 11, 2014 at 02:49 PM (#4669637)
In the NFL I've heard it said that a 20-something guy who's played tens of thousands of hours of Madden on his Playstation is better qualified than any NFL head coach to manage the clock at the end of a half, because he's vastly more experienced at it; a dedicated Madden player will manage the clock in as many games in two days as an NFL head coach does in a year. I think this is logical and very likely true.

Similarly, a dedicated OOTP player is probably more of an expert on lineup construction than any major league manager.

Naturally this is totally irrelevant, because no major league players would accept being ordered based on the wisdom of some nerd that plays a lot of video games (nor, one might reasonably argue, should they). Fortunately it doesn't really matter very much.
   9. TDF, situational idiot Posted: March 11, 2014 at 02:52 PM (#4669640)
It's been a couple of years since I read The Book, but I thought the optimal lineup was:

Best hitter hit 4th (unless he's OBP-heavy, then 1st)
Next best 1st (or 4th)
Next best 2nd (especially if he's a SB threat) or 5th (if he's SLG-heavy)

And only the 5th best hitter should hit #3. Do I misremember?
   10. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: March 11, 2014 at 03:00 PM (#4669646)
Sounds about right to me based on my own vast OOTP experience. I bat my two best hitters 4th and 2nd, the higher OBP of the two 2nd. Third best hitter bats 1st unless he happens to be a high SLG/low OBP type, in which case he bats 3rd. Next best hitter bats 5th, then 3rd, then 6th, then 9th, then 7th then 8th. All of this can and often should be rearranged to alternate right-handed and left-handed hitters as much as possible.

That's the general idea. In a lot of cases you have four or five hitters that are all about the same and then who gives a ####.
   11. cardsfanboy Posted: March 11, 2014 at 03:00 PM (#4669647)

Naturally this is totally irrelevant, because no major league players would accept being ordered based on the wisdom of some nerd that plays a lot of video games (nor, one might reasonably argue, should they). Fortunately it doesn't really matter very much.


Naturally this is irrelevant because it's more than likely not true. Playing on a computer isn't equivalent with dealing with the psychology of real people. And of course the concept that lineup construction is only based upon numbers vs one of two types of pitchers is silly, and of course thinking that players are the same skill level on a day-to-day basis is about the dumbest concept that the stat junkies of the world has fostered onto the rest of the world.

I agree with baseball that lineup construction is pretty easy and that a computer, if it had all the variables, could do a better job. And I think that even right now it does a better job than some managers, because of an old school thought process, but it's arrogant beyond belief to think that it's a simple math problem.
   12. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 11, 2014 at 03:02 PM (#4669648)
Who is the last MVP winner (nearly unanimous at that) to hit #5 in his team's lineup?


Ken Caminiti?
   13. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: March 11, 2014 at 03:04 PM (#4669652)
CFB: Thanks for wording what I was thinking much better than I did, other than "thinking that players are the same skill level on a day-to-day basis is about the dumbest concept that the stat junkies of the world has fostered onto the rest of the world." I honestly don't understand that bit.
   14. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: March 11, 2014 at 03:07 PM (#4669658)
a dedicated Madden player will manage the clock in as many games in two days as an NFL head coach does in a year.


But won't those games be, say, 10 minutes long? I didn't think most Madden games have a full 60-minute clock.
   15. PreservedFish Posted: March 11, 2014 at 03:08 PM (#4669659)
"thinking that players are the same skill level on a day-to-day basis is about the dumbest concept that the stat junkies of the world has fostered onto the rest of the world."


Yeah, what does this mean? "Holliday, you looked a little slow in BP today ... you're hitting 7th. Kozma, you're good at hitting changeups, right? Cleanup!"
   16. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: March 11, 2014 at 03:15 PM (#4669665)
But won't those games be, say, 10 minutes long? I didn't think most Madden games have a full 60-minute clock.


The accelerated clock doesn't really change the narrow concept of when you should and shouldn't use your timeouts.
   17. cardsfanboy Posted: March 11, 2014 at 03:16 PM (#4669667)
I honestly don't understand that bit.


Simulations assume that a .300/.400/.500 player is that skill level all the time. They might have a variable for games played that affects it somewhat, but for the most part, their skill level is static. And the book and any other thing ever produced in regards to analysis, assumes that a players skill level is static for a full season and blames fluctuations on luck and just random noise.

The truth is that a player is going to be one day maybe 80% in his legs, 90% in his arms, 65% in his motivation/determination/tenacity or whatever. And a manager/people person can pick that up. Some days a player might be perfectly fine as a fielder but maybe his eyesight is a little off. Or as oftentimes, the player is able to hit at about 80% but can only play the field at 60% etc...

These things are not ever considered in any 'lineup' construction models, they always look at just the raw numbers of the players and their lefty / righty splits. There are more than lefty / righty splits, some batters could have splits based upon the arm angle of the pitcher, the style of the pitcher, the park(beyond just park effects) ambiance etc.

I am not arguing for giving a guy an at bat because he happens to be 7 for 10 against that pitcher, but if you have a larger sample size of that style of pitcher that maybe it needs to be included also.
   18. deputydrew Posted: March 11, 2014 at 03:24 PM (#4669675)
I play a fair amount of Strat-O-Matic, and for me, a real key is going L-R-L-R-L to the greatest extent possible. It may well be more important in Strat, because the opponent knows how his relievers will match up against my hitters, so the L-R-L will force him to make tougher decisions. Still, I never understood why some managers seemed to go out of their way to bunch LH hitters together. The good Phillies teams are an example. I seem to recall them going Utley-Howard-Werth a fair amount, which is just insane.

I suspect that's a big chunk of the reason why Barry Bonds hit #5 in 1993, when he won the MVP in his first season in SF. The middle of that order went R-L-R-L (Thompson, Clark, Williams, Bonds). Of course, Dusty should have swapped Clark and Bonds, but oh well...
   19. madvillain Posted: March 11, 2014 at 03:24 PM (#4669676)
These things are not ever considered in any 'lineup' construction models, they always look at just the raw numbers of the players and their lefty / righty splits. There are more than lefty / righty splits, some batters could have splits based upon the arm angle of the pitcher, the style of the pitcher, the park(beyond just park effects) ambiance etc.


I'm not saying this isn't necessarily true, but in management, if you can't measure it, it's not important. How do you measure when a player is at 90%? It's one thing to be obviously slowed (Cabrera last year) it's another thing to try and parse out when guys are at 90%.

Same with the arm slot stuff, there just isn't enough data to make any meaningful decisions off it, at least not yet.

The good Phillies teams are an example. I seem to recall them going Utley-Howard-Werth a fair amount, which is just insane.


Yea, you've played too much strato. If the splits are bad enough sure, don't group them all back to back to back on a day a LHP is on the mound, but worrying about the 7th, 8th and 9th inning reliever matchups when making your lineup should pretty much be ignored. Too much can happen in the meanwhile and if a righty starts, then you're looking at 21 or so outs before it's even a thought.
   20. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: March 11, 2014 at 03:25 PM (#4669677)
Thanks for explaining. I'm inclined to think that even if you do know each player's true skill level on a given day, it's better to give everyone stability by writing basically the same lineup card every day than to jigger it each day to optimize for those skill and/or matchup fluctuations, except in extreme cases.
   21. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: March 11, 2014 at 03:30 PM (#4669685)
Utley-Howard-Werth would be fine if you were willing and able to pinch-hit for Howard when the inevitable lefthanded reliever faces him late in the game.

In the Pirates' case they bat McCutchen third and Alvarez, who like Howard cannot hit lefties to save his life and never will, fourth. At least twice last year, trailing by one late, they got a runner on first with McCutchen on deck and less than two out, and had the #2 hitter bunt the runner over. In both cases the opposing manager was more than happy to walk McCutchen and bring in a LOOGY to strike Alvarez out.

That's bad strategy and tactics.
   22. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: March 11, 2014 at 03:34 PM (#4669694)
Who is the last MVP winner (nearly unanimous at that) to hit #5 in his team's lineup?


I would assume this is Barry. I can't think of anyone after who hit there.

   23. cardsfanboy Posted: March 11, 2014 at 03:50 PM (#4669715)
Thanks for explaining. I'm inclined to think that even if you do know each player's true skill level on a given day, it's better to give everyone stability by writing basically the same lineup card every day than to jigger it each day to optimize for those skill and/or matchup fluctuations, except in extreme cases.


I mostly agree, just pointing out that there is literally no perfect lineup construction on a day to day basis, and if there was, that it would be something that a computer or ootp player wouldn't be able to do. There are some basic rules to set up, and realistically speaking it would be nice if we could get a vast majority of the managers to observe the same rules it would make the game better. (The better the lineups, the better the product is on the field)

Utley-Howard-Werth would be fine if you were willing and able to pinch-hit for Howard when the inevitable lefthanded reliever faces him late in the game.

In the Pirates' case they bat McCutchen third and Alvarez, who like Howard cannot hit lefties to save his life and never will, fourth. At least twice last year, trailing by one late, they got a runner on first with McCutchen on deck and less than two out, and had the #2 hitter bunt the runner over. In both cases the opposing manager was more than happy to walk McCutchen and bring in a LOOGY to strike Alvarez out.

That's bad strategy and tactics.


Getting rid of the number two hitter sacrificing should be the goal of every reasonable person on the planet.

But lineup construction isn't about one single inning, it's about over the course of the 9 inning game, what is going to give you the best chance of scoring runs in the "sweet spot". It's why you want to lump your crappy hitters together, it's why you might not want to have your worst hitter batting 9th, since the best chances you have is your 1-4 hitters and a slightly higher chance at a man on base for them is worth it more than a small improvement at scoring a run in the 7-9th spot.

It's also about setting it up for high leverage pinch hitting situations(while tactics is the willingness to take your 40 homerun hitter out when a high leverage situation arises and they bring in a loogy and it's only the 6th inning)
   24. deputydrew Posted: March 11, 2014 at 04:15 PM (#4669746)
Yea, you've played too much strato. If the splits are bad enough sure, don't group them all back to back to back on a day a LHP is on the mound, but worrying about the 7th, 8th and 9th inning reliever matchups when making your lineup should pretty much be ignored. Too much can happen in the meanwhile and if a righty starts, then you're looking at 21 or so outs before it's even a thought.


I don't buy this. Those Phillies knew every time Utley was up in a big situation the opposing team would go to a lefty reliever. Why make it easier on your opponent, and in the most critical point in the game? You say "too much can happen in the meanwhile..." but I'm not sure what you even mean. What is going to happen in innings 1-6 that would break up your L-L middle of the order? An injury to one of them? A blowout, allowing you to remove one early for a bit of a rest?
   25. Walt Davis Posted: March 11, 2014 at 04:34 PM (#4669774)
CFB ... while you're correct that players aren't 100% all the time I don't see what your point is regarding the fallacy foisted by the statnerds. Real-life managers don't tinker with their lineups based on "Holliday is 85% today", Holliday hits in the same spot pretty much all the time -- unless the player's been slumping and the manager wants to shake things up. They might sit Holliday altogether when the naive computer wouldn't but they're not going to hit him 7th because he's got an owie. rHeck, real-life managers seem reluctant to move their LHB down in the lineup against LHP.

As to OOTP ... have they gotten more realistic now? No more 300/310/900 players? I could see saying something like that about Strat or Diamond Mind players -- I still wouldn't believe it but it's at least possible.

My memory of the Book's conclusion was 3 best hitters 1,2,4 and the next two at 3,5 but that these considerations are secondary to L/R/L/R. Stacking your starting lineup to max the platoon advantage against the starter is fine as long as you're willing to PH later. It's also probably a reason why effective switch-hitters are a bit more valuable than we credit them for. Those Yankee lineups with Williams and Posada were just impossible to manage against.

It hardly seems accidental ... of the top 20 (by OPS+) switch-hitters of the integration era, 7 have spent at least a few seasons with the Yanks and Beltran is about to make it #8: Mantle, Tex, Bernie, Raines, Beltran, Posada, Roy White, Swisher. Chili Davis and Berkman also had short late-career stints with them.
   26. deputydrew Posted: March 11, 2014 at 04:41 PM (#4669779)
It's also probably a reason why effective switch-hitters are a bit more valuable than we credit them for.


One of my dreams is to have my son be an effective switch-hitter. He turns 16 in a few days and I'm working on it. 16 months, that is.
   27. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: March 11, 2014 at 04:46 PM (#4669783)
I suspect that's a big chunk of the reason why Barry Bonds hit #5 in 1993, when he won the MVP in his first season in SF. The middle of that order went R-L-R-L (Thompson, Clark, Williams, Bonds). Of course, Dusty should have swapped Clark and Bonds, but oh well...

The story was always that Bonds was most comfortable batting 5th -- after he stopped hitting leadoff in Pittsburgh he spent most all of his time at the five slot. This was also in part for a R-L-Switch-L thing (King, Van Slyke, Bonilla, Bonds), but one suspects that, since two managers in a row did exactly the same thing, Bonds must have been in favor of it.
   28. cardsfanboy Posted: March 11, 2014 at 04:55 PM (#4669789)
It hardly seems accidental ... of the top 20 (by OPS+) switch-hitters of the integration era, 7 have spent at least a few seasons with the Yanks and Beltran is about to make it #8: Mantle, Tex, Bernie, Raines, Beltran, Posada, Roy White, Swisher. Chili Davis and Berkman also had short late-career stints with them.

nvm


Whitey Herzog loved him some switch hitter too...when Joaquin Andujar was batting, the Cardinals could have 7 switch hitters in the lineup.
   29. Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: March 11, 2014 at 05:59 PM (#4669819)
A few players who won the MVP in a year they primarily hit in the #5 spot in their team's batting order:

* Ernie Lombardi in 1938

* Yogi Berra in 1951

* Jackie Jensen in 1958

* Brooks Robinson in 1964

* Barry Bonds in 1993
   30. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: March 11, 2014 at 06:14 PM (#4669824)
* Barry Bonds in 1993


Also 1990.

   31. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: March 11, 2014 at 06:32 PM (#4669833)
Whitey Herzog loved him some switch hitter too...when Joaquin Andujar was batting, the Cardinals could have 7 switch hitters in the lineup.

the Dodgers were almost obsessed with developing switchers in the 1960s. The had an all-switch-hitting infield a couple of years there
   32. Moeball Posted: March 11, 2014 at 07:04 PM (#4669842)
One of my dreams is to have my son be an effective switch-hitter. He turns 16 in a few days and I'm working on it. 16 months, that is.


Your son's name wouldn't be Mickey, would it? Because you sure sound a lot like Mantle's dad!
   33. Walt Davis Posted: March 11, 2014 at 07:10 PM (#4669844)
Whitey Herzog loved him some switch hitter too

True but I don't think any of them weighed over 170. :-)
   34. Moeball Posted: March 11, 2014 at 07:14 PM (#4669845)
In 1961, Roger Maris batted third and Mickey Mantle batted fourth. Maris hit .269 but drove in a team-leading 142 runs (w/ 61 homers), while Mantle batted .317 and drove in 128 (w/ 54 homers). Meanwhile, Elston Howard hit .348, arguably making him the best hitter that year, but had just 77 RBIs. I guess when you've got a number of very good hitters, it doesn't matter where your best one bats as long as your pitchers give up fewer runs than you. (Crucially, the 1-2 hitters -- Bobby Richardson and maybe Tony Kubek, if I remember correctly -- were on base a lot, despite having modest averages in the .270 range.)


I couldn't believe Repoz' comment at the top of the thread so I had to RTFA and look at the comments - yes, someone really tried to argue that Richardson and Kubek got on base a lot in 1961! Of course, this is also someone who obviously believes hitters should be ranked by BA, as Elston Howard apparently must have been the Yankees' best hitter. When somebody refuted the comment about Richardson/Kubek, here was the followup response:

Richardson and Kubek each had 170+ hits in 1961, team highs. No they didn't walk much, but they were on base a lot, and if they didn't score more it wasn't their fault. No doubt both Maris and Mantle hit a lot of solo shots. Richardson walked 30 times, which gave him over 200 opportunities to score.


Wow. Just...wow. Rarely do you see somebody work so hard to go out of their way to defy logic.
   35. cardsfanboy Posted: March 11, 2014 at 07:45 PM (#4669857)
Wow. Just...wow. Rarely do you see somebody work so hard to go out of their way to defy logic.


Especially when you realize that Elston Howard only played in 129 games that year with 482 pa vs Maris 161 games and 698 pa.

Of course thanks to retrosheet/bb-ref splits, you can see that Maris had 322 pa with men on, 81 of those with two men on and 2 of those with the bases loaded, meaning he had 407 men on base for him over the course of the season.... not sure if that is a lot or not, but it's a fair number. (looking for someone with a high average and relatively low ops+ and I have Mike Lowell with a .324 avg, 120 rbi and 521 batters on base in front of him) Not sure what it proves...just free thinking.
   36. Good cripple hitter Posted: March 11, 2014 at 07:55 PM (#4669866)
Of course thanks to retrosheet/bb-ref splits, you can see that Maris had 322 pa with men on, 81 of those with two men on and 2 of those with the bases loaded, meaning he had 407 men on base for him over the course of the season.... not sure if that is a lot or not, but it's a fair number. (looking for someone with a high average and relatively low ops+ and I have Mike Lowell with a .324 avg, 120 rbi and 521 batters on base in front of him) Not sure what it proves...just free thinking.


You can find that info, oddly enough, in his bb-ref gamelogs. In 61 he had 407 runners on base (228 on first, 114 on second, 65 on third), an average MLB player with the same amount of plate appearances would have 435 (228-134-72)
   37. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: March 11, 2014 at 08:02 PM (#4669873)
Deleted because I am stupid.
   38. cardsfanboy Posted: March 11, 2014 at 08:08 PM (#4669876)
I always forget that info is in the game logs(so used to counting it up myself). I knew it was there (along with homerun data) but I never remember to look there. Completely forgot that they had the "average" data for that also. Great resource that I need to remember.
   39. Bug Selig Posted: March 11, 2014 at 08:40 PM (#4669891)
No doubt both Maris and Mantle hit a lot of solo shots.


Which is their fault, not the bozos failing to be on base. <facepalm>
   40. bookbook Posted: March 11, 2014 at 09:02 PM (#4669901)
It seems that most switch- hitters have L-R splits that are larger than singlehanded hitters. Teach your kid to hit left-handed, and leave it at that.
   41. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: March 11, 2014 at 09:12 PM (#4669904)
It seems that most switch- hitters have L-R splits that are larger than singlehanded hitters. Teach your kid to hit left-handed, and leave it at that.

Bill James talked about that at length --somewhere--I don't remember where. Maybe in his short-lived almanac series in the early nineties. Anyway, he specifically mentioned the Dodgers in the 60s (see comment #31) and how they took ALL their infielders in the minors and tried to convert them to switchers. But, in most cases, the players retained their large platoon split based on their "natural" handedness, which kinda defeats the purpose of switch-hitting.

Wally Backman (not a Dodger): (switch hitter):
as LHB: 294/364/362
as RHB: 165/259/202

Davey Johnson realized this and used Backman exclusively against right-handers
   42. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: March 11, 2014 at 09:57 PM (#4669918)
It seems that most switch- hitters have L-R splits that are larger than singlehanded hitters. Teach your kid to hit left-handed, and leave it at that.


Do you have a cite for that, because I don't think that's true.

Certainly some switch hitters have larger splits than what you'd expect if they'd bat just one way, and would be wise to consider abandoning the practice, such as Victorino. But I don't think that's true for most switch hitters (and a quick glance at the big guys, Mantle, Murray, Teixeira, Jones, Posada doesn't support the idea that switchhitters have a larger platoon split than average, and certainly not a larger one than your typical lefthanded batter).

   43. Walt Davis Posted: March 11, 2014 at 11:32 PM (#4669953)
Deleted because I am stupid.

Today will forever be known as the day the internet died.

Wally Backman (not a Dodger): (switch hitter):
as LHB: 294/364/362
as RHB: 165/259/202


Was Backman a "natural" RHB or LHB. It seems to me that most of your scrappy infield/CF types taught to switch-hit started as RHB and their teams were teaching them to switch-hit in hopes the LHB-RHP platoon advantage would get their offense up to an acceptable level. It did often turn out that they became better LHB than RHB.

Anyway, Victorino's L/R OPS is 880, it's very unlikely he'd have done that as R/R.

   44. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: March 11, 2014 at 11:43 PM (#4669962)
Was Backman a "natural" RHB or LHB. It seems to me that most of your scrappy infield/CF types taught to switch-hit started as RHB and their teams were teaching them to switch-hit in hopes the LHB-RHP platoon advantage would get their offense up to an acceptable level. It did often turn out that they became better LHB than RHB.

I don't know, Walt--but I agree--most "forced" switch hitters started as right-handers.
   45. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: March 11, 2014 at 11:44 PM (#4669965)

Anyway, Victorino's L/R OPS is 880, it's very unlikely he'd have done that as R/R.


That's not really the question, is it? It's whether his R/R would beat his R/L.

Right now, he's been slightly better R/R vs. R/L, though a lot, if not all, of that edge may simply be his ridiculous HBP rate as a R/R.

   46. bjhanke Posted: March 12, 2014 at 02:28 AM (#4670001)
I've always thought that teams teach righties to switch-hit if the righty is either 1) lousy against RHP, or 2) a very fast ground-ball hitter likely to get something out of those two steps towards first. I have a vague memory that Barry Bonds ASKED to be hit 5th because players got paid disproportionally on the basis of their RBI. Bonds said, IIRC, that this old prejudice had ingrained itself into the arbitration process, so there was no way to get out of it. RBIs were always going to be overpaid. It made Barry sound greedy, and he seemed to have dropped that line of commentary once he got so many millions in his bank account that it would have been embarrassing, even to Barry. There are several documented cases, including Cool Papa Bell, of fast righties being taught to switch-hit, and losing all their power to having to bat wrong-handed 70% of the time. I think I'd want to have at least a decade of player development under my belt before I would suggest that anyone be taught to switch-hit. Now, if the kid comes into organized ball already switch-hitting, that's a different question. He should be used to it, and he's already been evaluated as a player with the switch-hitting going on. As for Whitey Herzog, Whitey liked ANYTHING that gave him control over game management against his opposing manager. Switch-hitting allowed him to do that, and also allowed him to keep more pitchers on his roster because he was in no danger of having an unbalanced lineup if a guy or two got hurt. - Brock Hanke
   47. Walt Davis Posted: March 12, 2014 at 02:34 AM (#4670005)
That's not really the question, is it? It's whether his R/R would beat his R/L.

No ... But I see I misread Victorino's stat line which is probably the source of the confusion. (Also I was listing batting side first, pitching side second while b-r does it the other way around). Anyway, his L vs R career line (L/R to me) is just 730, not 880 as I read it. (I thought that seemed high.) So, yes, a 730 OPS is not spectacular and his R vs L line is 880 as we might expect from a better than average RHB. A 880/730 R/L split for a RHB would be a bit extreme I believe so it's certainly possible Victorino would have been better off as RHB.
   48. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: March 12, 2014 at 07:41 AM (#4670018)
In my teenage Strat-O-Matic days, I put the guy with the most HR 4th, then arranged everybody else in order of batting average. Seemed to work OK.
   49. McCoy Posted: March 12, 2014 at 08:56 AM (#4670036)
I mostly agree, just pointing out that there is literally no perfect lineup construction on a day to day basis, and if there was, that it would be something that a computer or ootp player wouldn't be able to do.

The thing of it is that it appears managers are incapable of it as well. Managers don't move players around the batting order based on how those players feel that day. Pujols doesn't get moved to 7th one day because he feels 80% in the legs. He'll bat third or fourth every single day for years no matter what his physical or mental condition is that day, week, or month.
   50. steagles Posted: March 12, 2014 at 10:02 AM (#4670078)
I play a fair amount of Strat-O-Matic, and for me, a real key is going L-R-L-R-L to the greatest extent possible. It may well be more important in Strat, because the opponent knows how his relievers will match up against my hitters, so the L-R-L will force him to make tougher decisions. Still, I never understood why some managers seemed to go out of their way to bunch LH hitters together. The good Phillies teams are an example. I seem to recall them going Utley-Howard-Werth a fair amount, which is just insane.
i know this is hard to remember, but there was a time where ryan howard was actually really really dangerous v. LHP. he didn't hit for a high average, but he had 14 HRs v. LHP in 2008, 16 in 2007 and 16 in 2006. even when he did that with a .220 batting average, the threat of his power went a long way towards making the utley-howard/3-4 thing work.

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