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Saturday, May 03, 2014

Paine: The Spot in MLB Lineups Where Managers Are Still Ignoring Sabermetrics

Ignoring Sabermetrics? I just used up my Mike y Mad Dog material.

Historically, the quality levels of MLB leadoff and No. 2 hitters tend to track with each other — and contra the performances of third and fourth hitters. (Meanwhile, Nos. 5 and 6 have stayed fairly stable over the years, with the five slot outproducing six by a decent amount.) The good news is that it appears the two-hole has emerged from the dark ages of the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s, when slot Nos. 3 and 4 vastly outpaced Nos. 1 and 2.

It may not be coincidental that the bleakest of times for the No. 2 spot came during MLB’s so-called steroid era. The stat we’re using, wRC+, compares a player’s per-plate appearance productivity against the average of all hitters, and the power hitters who frequently bat third and fourth may have received the benefits of performance-enhancing drugs at a greater rate than the overall population of MLB batters. (This would cause No. 2 hitters to move backward relative to the overall average, even if they themselves saw no change in talent.) With the specter of performance-enhancing drugs reduced in today’s game, the gap between hitter No. 2 and Nos. 3 and 4 has returned to its long-term norm.

Still, today’s two-hole batters lag behind those of the halcyon late 1980s and early 1990s, when players such as Ryne Sandberg, Tony Gwynn, Wade Boggs, Roberto Alomar, Julio Franco and Lou Whitaker were doing a large share of their damage from the second spot in the lineup. It’s plausible that the conditions of the game back then simply favored the traditional archetype of the No. 2 hitter more (batting averages were higher, as was the ratio of on-base percentage to slugging), but today’s managers also don’t appear to be moving toward the sabermetric ideal of penciling the team’s best hitter into the No. 2 spot.

Sabermetrics has come a long way since the first analysts began tinkering with mathematical models, and there are certainly places where statistical thinking has made its way onto the field (for example, the explosion of defensive shifts in today’s game is rooted in probability theory regarding where a batter is most likely to hit the ball). But when it comes to the two-hole, baseball’s decision-makers still have a bit of a climb ahead of them.

Repoz Posted: May 03, 2014 at 07:41 AM | 37 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sabermetrics

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   1. Moeball Posted: May 03, 2014 at 10:45 AM (#4699537)
1982 Milwaukee. Robin Yount batting 2nd. Maybe best offensive year ever from the 2 spot? From a shortstop? I'm sure Harveys remembers!
   2. McCoy Posted: May 03, 2014 at 10:51 AM (#4699541)
1929 Lefty O'Doul .398/.465/.622
   3. bobm Posted: May 03, 2014 at 11:07 AM (#4699546)
For single team seasons, From 1947 to 2014, All Teams in Major Leagues, Batting 2nd (within Batting Order Positions), sorted by greatest tOPS+ for this split


                                                           
Rk         Split Year    PA   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS BAbip tOPS+
1    Batting 2nd 1959 11341 .276 .340 .415 .755  .290   111
2    Batting 2nd 1992 19204 .274 .340 .390 .729  .297   109
3    Batting 2nd 1947 11373 .281 .352 .389 .741  .295   108
4    Batting 2nd 1984 19168 .279 .336 .401 .737  .302   108
5    Batting 2nd 1991 19229 .274 .341 .390 .731  .300   107
6    Batting 2nd 1952 11328 .277 .346 .376 .722  .294   107
7    Batting 2nd 1972 16723 .264 .320 .364 .683  .284   106
8    Batting 2nd 1951 11459 .280 .349 .391 .740  .294   105
9    Batting 2nd 1967 14529 .257 .317 .362 .679  .285   105
10   Batting 2nd 1987 19319 .279 .347 .413 .759  .304   104
11   Batting 2nd 1954 11403 .276 .345 .392 .737  .289   104
12   Batting 2nd 1986 19204 .274 .339 .395 .734  .302   104
13   Batting 2nd 1958 11220 .274 .337 .396 .732  .289   104
14   Batting 2nd 1985 19157 .271 .334 .395 .730  .294   104
15   Batting 2nd 1990 19135 .272 .336 .386 .722  .295   104
16   Batting 2nd 1996 21166 .285 .350 .426 .776  .318   103
17   Batting 2nd 2003 22398 .279 .340 .424 .764  .305   103
18   Batting 2nd 1960 11334 .271 .337 .384 .721  .288   103
19   Batting 2nd 1971 17529 .267 .325 .367 .692  .289   103
20   Batting 2nd 1982 19260 .272 .333 .386 .719  .292   102
21   Batting 2nd 1969 17727 .262 .326 .370 .696  .281   102
22   Batting 2nd 2006 22480 .284 .345 .425 .770  .315   101
23   Batting 2nd 2007 22511 .280 .341 .420 .762  .313   101
24   Batting 2nd 2009 22328 .275 .337 .417 .754  .307   101
25   Batting 2nd 1949 11493 .275 .349 .383 .733  .288   101
26   Batting 2nd 2010 22177 .270 .334 .398 .732  .305   101
27   Batting 2nd 1948 11413 .275 .345 .383 .728  .289   101
28   Batting 2nd 2013 22119 .264 .322 .397 .719  .303   101
29   Batting 2nd 1962 14856 .270 .333 .387 .719  .290   101
30   Batting 2nd 2014  3942 .257 .327 .382 .709  .309   101
31   Batting 2nd 1963 14663 .257 .311 .374 .685  .276   101
32   Batting 2nd 1997 20955 .277 .343 .411 .754  .312   100
33   Batting 2nd 1998 22470 .275 .342 .411 .753  .306   100
34   Batting 2nd 1957 11361 .269 .326 .390 .716  .282   100
35   Batting 2nd 1983 19195 .268 .329 .383 .712  .288   100
36   Batting 2nd 1970 17855 .266 .333 .375 .707  .291   100
37   Batting 2nd 2008 22418 .277 .335 .408 .742  .310    99
38   Batting 2nd 1993 20837 .275 .339 .389 .728  .304    99
39   Batting 2nd 1955 11322 .265 .336 .384 .720  .277    99
40   Batting 2nd 1975 17758 .272 .330 .367 .697  .292    99
41   Batting 2nd 2004 22541 .275 .338 .417 .755  .307    98
42   Batting 2nd 2012 22012 .262 .321 .393 .714  .303    98
43   Batting 2nd 2011 22164 .261 .321 .390 .711  .296    98
44   Batting 2nd 1973 17770 .269 .329 .366 .695  .288    98
45   Batting 2nd 1989 19156 .263 .324 .363 .687  .290    98
46   Batting 2nd 1964 14669 .262 .313 .369 .682  .285    98
47   Batting 2nd 1965 14665 .256 .317 .356 .673  .281    98
48   Batting 2nd 1976 17632 .265 .321 .351 .671  .287    98
49   Batting 2nd 2000 22674 .277 .347 .420 .767  .307    97
50   Batting 2nd 1953 11383 .272 .338 .382 .720  .285    97
51   Batting 2nd 1988 19050 .259 .322 .363 .685  .285    97
52   Batting 2nd 1974 17819 .269 .328 .353 .680  .292    97
53   Batting 2nd 1966 14546 .254 .311 .362 .673  .278    97
54   Batting 2nd 1999 22658 .279 .345 .419 .764  .308    96
55   Batting 2nd 1994 14882 .275 .343 .401 .744  .304    96
56   Batting 2nd 1995 18728 .271 .341 .396 .737  .299    96
57   Batting 2nd 2005 22261 .271 .331 .403 .733  .303    96
58   Batting 2nd 1950 11521 .271 .349 .384 .733  .288    96
59   Batting 2nd 1981 12662 .262 .319 .356 .676  .284    96
60   Batting 2nd 1968 14447 .247 .300 .327 .627  .274    96
61   Batting 2nd 2001 22328 .271 .334 .404 .738  .303    95
62   Batting 2nd 1979 19194 .269 .328 .379 .707  .287    95
63   Batting 2nd 2002 22320 .266 .327 .397 .724  .294    94
64   Batting 2nd 1956 11363 .261 .331 .375 .706  .276    94
65   Batting 2nd 1961 13073 .262 .329 .375 .705  .280    94
66   Batting 2nd 1978 19010 .261 .324 .355 .679  .283    94
67   Batting 2nd 1977 19277 .266 .321 .377 .699  .286    92
68   Batting 2nd 1980 19273 .264 .320 .364 .684  .285    92


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/3/2014.
   4. bobm Posted: May 03, 2014 at 11:10 AM (#4699548)
For single team seasons, From 1947 to 2014, All Teams in Major Leagues, Bat1-2,non-P (within Batting Order Positions), sorted by greatest On-Base Plus Slugging for this split

                                                           
Rk         Split Year    PA   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS BAbip tOPS+
1    Bat1-2non-P 1991 38885 .271 .342 .384 .726  .300   106
2    Bat1-2non-P 1992 38810 .272 .341 .379 .720  .300   106
3    Bat1-2non-P 1987 39096 .278 .348 .414 .762  .305   105
4    Bat1-2non-P 1990 38720 .273 .341 .386 .727  .299   105
5    Bat1-2non-P 1959 22921 .270 .340 .390 .730  .288   104
6    Bat1-2non-P 1985 38788 .270 .334 .388 .722  .295   103
7    Bat1-2non-P 1984 38779 .274 .335 .381 .716  .301   103
8    Bat1-2non-P 1952 22924 .266 .342 .366 .708  .286   103
9    Bat1-2non-P 1951 23196 .274 .349 .382 .731  .289   102
10   Bat1-2non-P 1986 38872 .269 .336 .391 .727  .297   102
11   Bat1-2non-P 2013 44730 .265 .325 .394 .719  .305   102
12   Bat1-2non-P 1988 38533 .266 .329 .374 .703  .293   102
13   Bat1-2non-P 1969 35840 .263 .328 .368 .696  .285   102
14   Bat1-2non-P 2007 45520 .279 .343 .418 .761  .312   101
15   Bat1-2non-P 2009 45205 .276 .342 .413 .756  .312   101
16   Bat1-2non-P 2008 45359 .276 .340 .411 .751  .310   101
17   Bat1-2non-P 1954 23051 .271 .346 .380 .726  .287   101
18   Bat1-2non-P 1948 23115 .277 .351 .374 .725  .292   101
19   Bat1-2non-P 1958 22736 .269 .337 .382 .720  .286   101
20   Bat1-2non-P 1970 36093 .267 .334 .378 .712  .290   101
21   Bat1-2non-P 2014  7989 .260 .326 .383 .709  .312   101
22   Bat1-2non-P 1975 35935 .271 .335 .370 .706  .294   101
23   Bat1-2non-P 1973 35982 .270 .332 .373 .705  .292   101
24   Bat1-2non-P 1966 29387 .261 .318 .370 .688  .285   101
25   Bat1-2non-P 1971 35454 .264 .325 .360 .686  .285   101
26   Bat1-2non-P 1963 29607 .258 .315 .367 .682  .281   101
27   Bat1-2non-P 1967 29382 .255 .312 .353 .665  .281   101
28   Bat1-2non-P 1968 29237 .251 .307 .336 .643  .280   101
29   Bat1-2non-P 2006 45476 .282 .344 .422 .766  .314   100
30   Bat1-2non-P 1996 42816 .282 .350 .414 .764  .314   100
31   Bat1-2non-P 1950 23301 .273 .358 .386 .744  .290   100
32   Bat1-2non-P 1993 42189 .276 .345 .387 .732  .305   100
33   Bat1-2non-P 1949 23235 .273 .353 .376 .729  .287   100
34   Bat1-2non-P 1955 22911 .268 .341 .382 .723  .282   100
35   Bat1-2non-P 2011 44848 .264 .325 .394 .719  .301   100
36   Bat1-2non-P 1983 38838 .271 .333 .380 .714  .294   100
37   Bat1-2non-P 1947 23021 .270 .343 .370 .712  .285   100
38   Bat1-2non-P 1960 22924 .267 .335 .376 .711  .286   100
39   Bat1-2non-P 1965 29671 .256 .318 .362 .680  .280   100
40   Bat1-2non-P 2004 45558 .279 .341 .416 .757  .309    99
41   Bat1-2non-P 2010 44893 .267 .331 .390 .721  .304    99
42   Bat1-2non-P 1962 30064 .268 .334 .378 .712  .287    99
43   Bat1-2non-P 1982 38959 .269 .331 .375 .707  .293    99
44   Bat1-2non-P 1989 38717 .263 .328 .361 .690  .291    99
45   Bat1-2non-P 1974 36026 .269 .332 .355 .686  .294    99
46   Bat1-2non-P 1972 33820 .255 .317 .345 .662  .279    99
47   Bat1-2non-P 2003 45340 .276 .336 .412 .748  .304    98
48   Bat1-2non-P 1998 45444 .274 .344 .402 .747  .307    98
49   Bat1-2non-P 1997 42432 .275 .345 .400 .745  .311    98
50   Bat1-2non-P 1995 37914 .274 .345 .398 .744  .306    98
51   Bat1-2non-P 2005 45059 .276 .336 .405 .741  .306    98
52   Bat1-2non-P 1953 23033 .272 .343 .382 .725  .288    98
53   Bat1-2non-P 1979 38796 .275 .336 .383 .719  .297    98
54   Bat1-2non-P 2012 44531 .261 .322 .392 .715  .303    98
55   Bat1-2non-P 1957 22989 .265 .327 .379 .706  .278    98
56   Bat1-2non-P 1980 38981 .273 .334 .370 .704  .297    98
57   Bat1-2non-P 1976 35684 .264 .324 .351 .675  .290    98
58   Bat1-2non-P 1964 29699 .260 .315 .363 .678  .284    97
59   Bat1-2non-P 1981 25619 .262 .325 .351 .676  .288    97
60   Bat1-2non-P 1999 45860 .278 .347 .413 .760  .309    96
61   Bat1-2non-P 1994 30099 .275 .346 .399 .745  .306    96
62   Bat1-2non-P 1956 22984 .264 .339 .373 .712  .280    96
63   Bat1-2non-P 2000 45939 .277 .348 .412 .760  .307    95
64   Bat1-2non-P 2002 45140 .266 .330 .396 .726  .296    95
65   Bat1-2non-P 1977 38988 .273 .330 .380 .710  .296    95
66   Bat1-2non-P 2001 45167 .270 .333 .398 .731  .302    94
67   Bat1-2non-P 1978 38486 .262 .324 .356 .680  .284    94
68   Bat1-2non-P 1961 26479 .260 .328 .362 .690  .280    91


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/3/2014.
   5. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: May 03, 2014 at 11:28 AM (#4699557)
I think I remember somebody -- was it Neyer? -- advocating for the Giants to put Bonds in the 2 slot. This was back when I was living in Palo Alto, so it would have been 2003 or so, right in that period when opposing managers became pathological about not wanting to face him ever. B-R confirms my memory that in actuality the Giants were batting him cleanup most nights, behind Kent instead of in front of him, which may have been failing in some minor way to maximize his ridiculous OBPs.

Personally, I've always been a fan of slapping your best hitter in the 2 hole, as long as he's not going to be butthurt about it. He comes up to bat a lot, and if you've got a decent leadoff guy he does it with someone on base as often as possible. A lot of my favorite players were the sorts of guys who end up batting 2nd: pesky infielders with good batting eyes and a little pop, guys like Pedroia and Trammell and Alomar.
   6. Spectral Posted: May 03, 2014 at 11:41 AM (#4699568)
Personally, I've always been a fan of slapping your best hitter in the 2 hole, as long as he's not going to be butthurt about it.

Agreed. I find it weird that there's still potential butthurt about it, when it seems like no one's really going to pay you to be an "RBI guy" anymore. I'd think the opportunity to bat more often and help your team score more runs would be more appealing than some ego boosting thing about hitting third or fourth, especially if your manager explained to you (and publicly) that you're batting second because you're the best player.
   7. Tom Nawrocki Posted: May 03, 2014 at 11:45 AM (#4699571)
Of course, sabermetrics has also found that lineup selection doesn't matter much.
   8. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: May 03, 2014 at 11:55 AM (#4699575)
slapping your best hitter in the 2 hole


I didn't do this on purpose.

   9. JE (Jason) Posted: May 03, 2014 at 11:57 AM (#4699576)
Voxter, wouldn't the guy with the most acute case of "butthurt" in most of these cases be the leadoff hitter, since he would probably be discouraged from attempting to steal with a slugger in the two-hole?
   10. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: May 03, 2014 at 12:05 PM (#4699579)
The Reds have smartly moved Votto to the second slot this year.
   11. The District Attorney Posted: May 03, 2014 at 12:08 PM (#4699581)
1982 Milwaukee. Robin Yount batting 2nd. Maybe best offensive year ever from the 2 spot? From a shortstop?
A-Rod hit 2nd and played SS when he went 358/414/631 in 1996.

I think in the truly ideal world, your best hitter doesn't hit 2nd because you have two terrific leadoff hitter types. (I always think of Rickey Henderson and Roger Cedeño on the '99 Mets). There are probably situations where it's the right play, though. The '96 Mariners had three other terrific cleanup-type hitters, so why not hit the fourth power hitter 2nd, as opposed to 6th? And the Giants usually didn't have anyone to get on for Bonds, so why not maximize Bonds's own PA? I think it all really depends on the circumstances.
   12. BDC Posted: May 03, 2014 at 12:18 PM (#4699587)
I imagine it doesn't matter much who bats where as long as the better hitters get more PAs and very roughly speaking better OBPs precede better SLGs, not always easy to perfect. Though it does seem to matter a lot to the players, who feel a certain mystique towards it all.

There are examples of clubs that were hurt by a weird insistence on putting an actual bad hitter at 2. The 1960s Giants are much bemoaned in this respect. They spent a lot of time with Jim Davenport or Hal Lanier batting second for otherwise very strong clubs. They tried Matty Alou there in 1965 before he learned how to hit, etc. Could they have won another pennant or two with better #2 hitters? Or did they simply not have as good a lineup top-to-bottom as the Dodgers or the Cardinals, no matter how they arranged them, despite having McCovey and Mays et al.?
   13. bobm Posted: May 03, 2014 at 12:54 PM (#4699600)
For single seasons, From 1914 to 2014, Batting 2nd (within Batting Order Positions), (requiring PA?400), sorted by greatest On-Base Plus Slugging for this split

                                                                                                      
Rk           Player       Split Year   OPS  GS  PA  AB   R   H HR RBI SB CS   BA  OBP  SLG   OPS BAbip
1       Lefty ODoul Batting 2nd 1929 1.096 100 485 417 100 168 21  76  2  0 .403 .475 .621 1.096  .383
2    Alex Rodriguez Batting 2nd 1996 1.077 123 594 523 128 194 33 107 14  3 .371 .429 .648 1.077  .394
3        Mike Trout Batting 2nd 2013 1.015  89 405 343  63 113 18  62 20  4 .329 .420 .595 1.015  .364
4       Derek Jeter Batting 2nd 1999 1.000 145 677 576 122 201 23  92 17  8 .349 .438 .563 1.000  .396
5        Wade Boggs Batting 2nd 1985  .995 113 528 459  90 181  7  56  1  0 .394 .472 .523  .995  .421
6     Eddie Mathews Batting 2nd 1959  .994 145 668 582 117 180 46 114  2  2 .309 .392 .601  .994  .286
7        Paul Waner Batting 2nd 1934  .990 113 533 472  96 174 13  68  6  0 .369 .432 .557  .990  .363
8      Carlton Fisk Batting 2nd 1983  .978  95 429 380  74 123 24  76  7  5 .324 .391 .587  .978  .334
9       Toby Harrah Batting 2nd 1982  .977 113 517 438  84 144 24  67  7  2 .329 .420 .557  .977  .315
10    Woody English Batting 2nd 1930  .966 118 572 478 123 165 12  46  2  0 .345 .445 .521  .966  .376
11   Ivan Rodriguez Batting 2nd 1999  .963  88 409 391  85 136 25  80 11  8 .348 .369 .593  .963  .334
12   Edgar Martinez Batting 2nd 1992  .963  96 436 384  76 134 12  49  6  2 .349 .416 .547  .963  .364
13      Robin Yount Batting 2nd 1982  .961 138 636 575 123 190 28 100 14  2 .330 .378 .583  .961  .326
14     Cesar Cedeno Batting 2nd 1972  .958 103 473 426  85 143 18  65 47 15 .336 .392 .566  .958  .341
15     Rich Aurilia Batting 2nd 2001  .956 133 624 573 107 188 34  92  1  3 .328 .375 .581  .956  .329
16       Joe Morgan Batting 2nd 1974  .955  97 439 345  73 107 13  39 42  9 .310 .451 .504  .955  .330
17   Carlos Beltran Batting 2nd 2004  .949 115 518 432  95 121 26  76 32  3 .280 .386 .563  .949  .284
18         Jay Bell Batting 2nd 1999  .946 144 673 576 131 169 38 111  6  4 .293 .378 .568  .946  .313
19     Dwight Evans Batting 2nd 1982  .941 150 673 561 113 164 30  91  3  2 .292 .406 .535  .941  .324
20    Harlond Clift Batting 2nd 1936  .940 130 603 488 128 147 17  59 11  3 .301 .432 .508  .940  .315
21     Harry Walker Batting 2nd 1947  .937  91 404 342  55 128  1  22 10  3 .374 .451 .485  .937  .408
22    John Valentin Batting 2nd 1995  .933 126 586 490 103 146 26  94 20  5 .298 .400 .533  .933  .299
23    Tommy Henrich Batting 2nd 1948  .931 127 590 516 119 158 20  81  2  3 .306 .388 .543  .931  .299
24   Robby Thompson Batting 2nd 1993  .931  95 434 382  72 125 18  49  5  3 .327 .392 .539  .931  .369
25     Dwight Evans Batting 2nd 1984  .928 153 700 601 119 180 31 100  3  1 .300 .389 .539  .928  .323


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/3/2014.
   14. Tom (and his broom) Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:00 PM (#4699602)
BDC,

The short answer is that it doesn't matter enough to make a difference. Lineup arrangement simply doesn't affect runs scored nearly as much as you think it will.
   15. SteveF Posted: May 03, 2014 at 01:23 PM (#4699608)
slapping your best hitter in the 2 hole

I didn't do this on purpose.

I'm sure she forgives you.
   16. OsunaSakata Posted: May 03, 2014 at 03:48 PM (#4699660)
What I found curious about TFA is that the #6 hitter is generally better than the #2 hitter. In my OOTP lineups, that would only happen if the #2 hitter is a high on-base, low-slugging guy and the #6 guy is a low on-base very high-slugging guy. To me this was the strongest evidence of an obsession with contact. Can anyone else think of a reason to have a better hitting #6 than #2?
   17. BDC Posted: May 03, 2014 at 04:01 PM (#4699673)
doesn't matter enough to make a difference

IOW if you're unlucky enough to have Hal Lanier for 150 games, almost all of the damage is already done before you make up the lineup card. And to be fair, Lanier batted 7th or 8th way more than he batted 2nd or 1st.
   18. puck Posted: May 03, 2014 at 04:54 PM (#4699700)
slapping your best hitter in the 2 hole

I didn't do this on purpose.


According to Ruben Bolling (Tom the Dancing Bug), Nate Silver's tweet link to this article was titled "MLB managers are misusing their 2-holes." But Silver then deleted the tweet.
   19. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: May 03, 2014 at 05:43 PM (#4699719)
Can anyone else think of a reason to have a better hitting #6 than #2?


I suppose there might be some high-level psychology about guys who hit for power or something, but it doesn't make much sense to me. I think maybe -- maybe -- what happens is that a manager is thinking, "Oh, hit-and-run, stealy-steal, wanna move the leadoff runner up," but without a real firm grasp on how often that's relevant. So you get a slap-happy guy who doesn't walk much batting 2nd. This doesn't really obtain when you've got a Derek Jeter or a Joe Morgan, who are both slap-happy and hit for some power and walk a lot, but when you're choosing between, say, Sergio Romero and Justin Smoak, the old-school biases take over and you end up with the quick guy batting 2nd and the slow guy batting 6th.
   20. Walt Davis Posted: May 03, 2014 at 06:22 PM (#4699743)
Bobm ... I'd be interested in that list for the AL-only, DH era. OK also a comp to the NL for the DH era.

I notice that the median in Bob's list is dead on 100 tOPS+, kinda right where we'd expect it to be if it was random.

Anyway, it seems to me that AL teams of the DH era have been more willing to put a big hitter #2 than the NL. I don't know if that's true but the first guys off the top of my mind are always the Brewers, Fisk with the White Sox, Downing, now Trout. Makes some sense in that they've got a real hitter in the #9 spot ... and isn't that pretty much the idea behind the theory of batting the pitcher 8th.

But I'd say where teams, even the supposedly saber ones, ignore saber lineup theory most is #3. Most teams still put their best or 2nd best hitter here while the Book says that slot should go to your 4th or 5th best hitter.

And can a specter be reduced?
   21. Boxkutter Posted: May 03, 2014 at 07:10 PM (#4699771)
I think in the truly ideal world, your best hitter doesn't hit 2nd because you have two terrific leadoff hitter types. (I always think of Rickey Henderson and Roger Cedeño on the '99 Mets).

I always think of the Marlin teams from around 2002 and 2003 with Luis Castillo and Juan Pierre.
   22. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: May 03, 2014 at 07:28 PM (#4699780)
Juan Pierre was an okay leadoff hitter in 03-04, but the game was so out of whack in those days that a guy who slugged less than .400 had the damnedest time having any value at all.
   23. bobm Posted: May 03, 2014 at 07:31 PM (#4699781)
For single team seasons, From 1973 to 2013, All Teams in National League, Batting 2nd (within Batting Order Positions), sorted by greatest tOPS+ for this split

                                                     
Rk         Split Year  OPS    PA   BA  OBP  SLG tOPS+
1    Batting 2nd 1990 .744  8824 .279 .342 .402   112
2    Batting 2nd 1991 .727  8776 .275 .341 .386   111
3    Batting 2nd 1984 .726  8803 .280 .333 .392   111
4    Batting 2nd 1992 .719  8809 .274 .338 .380   111
5    Batting 2nd 1987 .760  8893 .283 .350 .411   108
6    Batting 2nd 1996 .757 10454 .279 .343 .415   106
7    Batting 2nd 1986 .714  8830 .269 .332 .382   104
8    Batting 2nd 1989 .691  8832 .261 .323 .368   104
9    Batting 2nd 2006 .772 11986 .282 .345 .427   103
10   Batting 2nd 2003 .761 11926 .280 .341 .420   103
11   Batting 2nd 1997 .754 10429 .281 .343 .411   103
12   Batting 2nd 2008 .754 11947 .278 .338 .416   103
13   Batting 2nd 1993 .734 10393 .279 .341 .393   103
14   Batting 2nd 2010 .732 11796 .275 .335 .397   103
15   Batting 2nd 1998 .746 11952 .275 .340 .406   102
16   Batting 2nd 2012 .724 11720 .269 .327 .397   102
17   Batting 2nd 2013 .710 11015 .262 .318 .392   102
18   Batting 2nd 1982 .699  8865 .275 .333 .366   102
19   Batting 2nd 1988 .680  8753 .261 .321 .359   102
20   Batting 2nd 2000 .776 12043 .279 .347 .429   101
21   Batting 2nd 2007 .760 12009 .277 .339 .422   101
22   Batting 2nd 2009 .743 11885 .273 .338 .405   101
23   Batting 2nd 1975 .699  8940 .276 .333 .366   101
24   Batting 2nd 1973 .699  8865 .272 .330 .369   101
25   Batting 2nd 1985 .698  8813 .267 .322 .376   101
26   Batting 2nd 2004 .748 11983 .277 .337 .411    98
27   Batting 2nd 1983 .689  8832 .263 .323 .366    98
28   Batting 2nd 1999 .759 12091 .274 .342 .417    97
29   Batting 2nd 2001 .742 11857 .275 .334 .408    97
30   Batting 2nd 2005 .732 11854 .269 .331 .401    97
31   Batting 2nd 1995 .723  9315 .269 .335 .388    96
32   Batting 2nd 1994 .728  7427 .269 .336 .392    95
33   Batting 2nd 1976 .663  8812 .267 .320 .343    95
34   Batting 2nd 1974 .670  8950 .264 .327 .343    94
35   Batting 2nd 2002 .712 11888 .262 .322 .390    92
36   Batting 2nd 2011 .682 11820 .256 .313 .369    92
37   Batting 2nd 1977 .685  8925 .264 .316 .369    90
38   Batting 2nd 1979 .674  8876 .267 .318 .356    90
39   Batting 2nd 1978 .655  8765 .256 .315 .340    90
40   Batting 2nd 1980 .654  8847 .260 .311 .343    89
41   Batting 2nd 1981 .646  5868 .254 .309 .337    89


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/3/2014.
   24. bobm Posted: May 03, 2014 at 07:37 PM (#4699786)
For single team seasons, From 1973 to 2013, All Teams in American League, Batting 2nd (within Batting Order Positions), sorted by greatest tOPS+ for this split

                                                     
Rk         Split Year  OPS    PA   BA  OBP  SLG tOPS+
1    Batting 2nd 1985 .757 10344 .274 .345 .412   107
2    Batting 2nd 1992 .739 10395 .274 .341 .397   107
3    Batting 2nd 1984 .748 10365 .278 .339 .408   106
4    Batting 2nd 1986 .751 10374 .279 .345 .407   104
5    Batting 2nd 2011 .745 10344 .268 .331 .414   104
6    Batting 2nd 1991 .733 10453 .274 .341 .393   103
7    Batting 2nd 2003 .768 10472 .278 .339 .429   102
8    Batting 2nd 1982 .736 10395 .269 .333 .403   102
9    Batting 2nd 1981 .702  6794 .269 .328 .373   102
10   Batting 2nd 2009 .767 10443 .277 .337 .430   101
11   Batting 2nd 2007 .763 10502 .283 .344 .419   101
12   Batting 2nd 1987 .759 10426 .276 .345 .414   101
13   Batting 2nd 1983 .732 10363 .273 .333 .398   101
14   Batting 2nd 2013 .728 11104 .266 .326 .402   101
15   Batting 2nd 1996 .793 10712 .291 .357 .437   100
16   Batting 2nd 2010 .733 10381 .265 .333 .400   100
17   Batting 2nd 1976 .680  8820 .262 .321 .359   100
18   Batting 2nd 1979 .736 10318 .271 .338 .399    99
19   Batting 2nd 1974 .691  8869 .274 .329 .362    99
20   Batting 2nd 2006 .767 10494 .287 .344 .422    98
21   Batting 2nd 2004 .763 10558 .272 .338 .424    98
22   Batting 2nd 1998 .760 10518 .275 .344 .417    98
23   Batting 2nd 1997 .754 10526 .273 .343 .411    97
24   Batting 2nd 1990 .703 10311 .265 .332 .371    97
25   Batting 2nd 1978 .699 10245 .266 .332 .368    97
26   Batting 2nd 1975 .695  8818 .267 .327 .368    97
27   Batting 2nd 1999 .771 10567 .284 .349 .421    96
28   Batting 2nd 1994 .759  7455 .281 .350 .410    96
29   Batting 2nd 1995 .752  9413 .273 .347 .405    96
30   Batting 2nd 2002 .739 10432 .270 .333 .406    96
31   Batting 2nd 2005 .735 10407 .274 .330 .405    96
32   Batting 2nd 1973 .691  8905 .266 .328 .364    96
33   Batting 2nd 1993 .721 10444 .272 .337 .384    94
34   Batting 2nd 1977 .711 10352 .268 .326 .385    94
35   Batting 2nd 1980 .709 10426 .268 .327 .382    94
36   Batting 2nd 1988 .690 10297 .257 .324 .366    94
37   Batting 2nd 2001 .733 10471 .266 .334 .398    93
38   Batting 2nd 2008 .729 10471 .275 .330 .399    93
39   Batting 2nd 2012 .703 10292 .254 .314 .389    93
40   Batting 2nd 1989 .684 10324 .265 .325 .358    93
41   Batting 2nd 2000 .757 10631 .275 .347 .411    92


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/3/2014.
   25. Greg K Posted: May 03, 2014 at 08:16 PM (#4699797)
Personally, I've always been a fan of slapping your best hitter in the 2 hole, as long as he's not going to be butthurt about it. He comes up to bat a lot, and if you've got a decent leadoff guy he does it with someone on base as often as possible. A lot of my favorite players were the sorts of guys who end up batting 2nd: pesky infielders with good batting eyes and a little pop, guys like Pedroia and Trammell and Alomar.

Bautista batted 2nd for a while for the Jays last year while Reyes was hurt. It was fun to see, though it wasn't for long.

Looking it up, he batted 2nd from May 11 to July 22 everyday (minus two days of Rajai Davis)
   26. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 04, 2014 at 07:03 AM (#4699896)
little puzzled why the number 2 hitters are not listed by ops+ versus straight ops though maybe that is not readily available given the nature of the query

anyway, i think one would find that seasons like mathews and young would be higher as county stadium was a tough place to hit. and the difference between eras of the 50's and 80's versus o'doul's 1929 and rodriguez' 1996.

in the early 80's it was looking like a 'thing' to put a strong hitter at number with harrah, young and then fisk.

but didn't take

very strange given the great results. larussa inserting fisk in the 2 spot of the order was hailed as something that sparked the white sox. he was number 3 in the mvp balloting for cr8ssake



   27. Bunny Vincennes Posted: May 04, 2014 at 10:04 AM (#4699920)
I don't know how power hitting second baseman Ryne Sandberg doesn't come up here. He spent almost his entire career hitting second. And, that was mostly because it was a situation where he was just comfortable there. There was always talk of moving him in the order but the Cubs never really did that.
   28. bobm Posted: May 04, 2014 at 11:05 AM (#4699938)
For cumulative seasons, From 1914 to 2014, Batting 2nd (within Batting Order Positions), (requiring PA?2500 for entire season(s)/career and PA?2500), sorted by greatest On-Base Plus Slugging for this split

                                                                   
Rk              Player       Split From   To  OPS OPStot   PA PAtot
1           Wade Boggs Batting 2nd 1982 1999 .876   .846 2945  7402
2           Jose Vidro Batting 2nd 1997 2008 .869   .804 2668  5708
3         Dwight Evans Batting 2nd 1973 1991 .862   .830 2534  9583
4           Paul Waner Batting 2nd 1926 1944 .857   .853 3520  8654
5           Tony Gwynn Batting 2nd 1982 2001 .842   .847 3962  8836
6       Dustin Pedroia Batting 2nd 2006 2014 .836   .821 2846  4687
7          Derek Jeter Batting 2nd 1996 2014 .832   .826 6233 12020
8          Wally Moses Batting 2nd 1936 1951 .829   .789 2794  7225
9            Rod Carew Batting 2nd 1967 1985 .824   .823 5146 10057
10   Charlie Gehringer Batting 2nd 1925 1941 .823   .853 2609  6272
11        Lou Whitaker Batting 2nd 1977 1995 .821   .785 3461  6924
12        Barry Larkin Batting 2nd 1986 2004 .821   .815 2957  9057
13       Ryne Sandberg Batting 2nd 1982 1997 .821   .796 5436  9276
14        Phil Bradley Batting 2nd 1983 1990 .819   .790 2802  4255
15       Michael Young Batting 2nd 2000 2013 .816   .787 3898  8612
16         Robin Yount Batting 2nd 1974 1993 .812   .772 4806 12249
17       John Valentin Batting 2nd 1993 2002 .811   .816 2577  4299
18        Julio Franco Batting 2nd 1982 2006 .805   .771 3017  8498
19          Joe Morgan Batting 2nd 1963 1984 .802   .819 5111 11329
20     Edgardo Alfonzo Batting 2nd 1995 2005 .798   .789 2646  6013
21       Carl Crawford Batting 2nd 2002 2014 .798   .768 2903  6614
22      Frankie Frisch Batting 2nd 1922 1937 .797   .799 2576  8131
23        Craig Biggio Batting 2nd 1989 2007 .796   .772 3398  8018
24     Shane Victorino Batting 2nd 2003 2014 .793   .774 2660  4863
25        Johnny Pesky Batting 2nd 1942 1954 .788   .780 5210  5515


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/4/2014.
   29. bobm Posted: May 04, 2014 at 11:11 AM (#4699940)
For cumulative seasons, From 1914 to 2014, Batting 2nd (within Batting Order Positions), (requiring PA?2500 for entire season(s)/career and PA?2500), sorted by greatest Plate Appearances for this split

                                                                          
Rk             Player       Split From   To   PA PAtot   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
1          Nellie Fox Batting 2nd 1950 1964 7805  9995 .292 .352 .366 .718
2        Omar Vizquel Batting 2nd 1991 2012 7156 11297 .277 .343 .361 .704
3         Ozzie Smith Batting 2nd 1978 1996 6852 10778 .268 .342 .333 .675
4         Derek Jeter Batting 2nd 1996 2014 6233 12020 .312 .382 .449 .832
5            Jay Bell Batting 2nd 1987 2003 5994  8217 .274 .352 .427 .779
6          Doc Cramer Batting 2nd 1930 1946 5933  8424 .299 .341 .380 .721
7     Placido Polanco Batting 2nd 1999 2013 5801  7765 .301 .345 .405 .750
8        Billy Herman Batting 2nd 1931 1947 5767  8639 .302 .363 .411 .774
9       Ryne Sandberg Batting 2nd 1982 1997 5436  9276 .291 .348 .473 .821
10          Red Rolfe Batting 2nd 1931 1942 5288  5406 .289 .360 .413 .773
11            Al Dark Batting 2nd 1948 1960 5265  7820 .291 .330 .407 .738
12       Johnny Pesky Batting 2nd 1942 1954 5210  5515 .310 .397 .391 .788
13          Rod Carew Batting 2nd 1967 1985 5146 10057 .330 .392 .432 .824
14         Joe Morgan Batting 2nd 1963 1984 5111 11329 .270 .385 .417 .802
15     Edgar Renteria Batting 2nd 1996 2011 5081  9066 .286 .345 .391 .735
16        Robin Yount Batting 2nd 1974 1993 4806 12249 .293 .348 .464 .812
17      Glenn Beckert Batting 2nd 1965 1975 4750  5572 .289 .324 .353 .677
18       Jake Daubert Batting 2nd 1914 1924 4727  6260 .303 .359 .401 .760
19     Roberto Alomar Batting 2nd 1988 2004 4690  9126 .295 .364 .422 .786
20          Max Carey Batting 2nd 1914 1928 4682  8849 .288 .368 .389 .757
21         Larry Bowa Batting 2nd 1970 1985 4622  8532 .265 .299 .328 .626
22      Pee Wee Reese Batting 2nd 1946 1958 4554  7779 .277 .366 .392 .758
23         Dick Groat Batting 2nd 1952 1967 4544  8179 .283 .327 .366 .693
24        Buddy Lewis Batting 2nd 1935 1949 4508  5939 .300 .364 .421 .784
25   Red Schoendienst Batting 2nd 1945 1962 4370  9215 .294 .338 .399 .737
Rk             Player       Split From   To   PA PAtot   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
26       Felix Millan Batting 2nd 1966 1977 4169  6325 .281 .325 .341 .667
27       Eddie Foster Batting 2nd 1914 1923 4076  5109 .265 .332 .325 .657
28      Alan Trammell Batting 2nd 1978 1996 4007  8660 .281 .352 .405 .757


97 total players

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/4/2014.
   30. cardsfanboy Posted: May 04, 2014 at 03:50 PM (#4700022)
I think the article fully missed the point, if we want to see how sabermetric thinking has penetrated the mainstream, then wouldn't it show up in how they handle the third spot in the batting order? According to Tango, the third spot is "At best" should be the 4th best hitter in the lineup, yet most teams are still putting their best hitter there.

Mind you, I think that some of these lineup studies really display some arrogance by the stat community, and that there really hasn't been a good study that incorporates the dp avoidance or speed of different players in lineup, and that most of these studies I have seen have seemed to concentrate on a theoretical lineup concept of how important is this guy if he is batting in a lineup of 8 average hitters.

Considering that historically speaking, the first inning has almost always been the highest scoring inning by pretty much every team, there is real world evidence that the traditionalist have it somewhat right. After all the traditional lineup is leadoff speed/obp, 2nd contact and 3rd your best hitter...which goes contradictory to the studies which say leadoff high obp(top 3 hitter), 2nd is your best hitter and 3rd your 4th best hitter.

There is a lineup creator out there, which supposedly comes up with the optimal lineup, but then it only asks for obp/slg...doesn't care one whit about speed or average. I don't think you'll find many stat guys out there who would argue that you put a .360/.450(obp/slg) hitting catcher in the leadoff or second spot over a Juan Pierre type who is a .350/.440 hitter.

I absolutely agree that the traditional lineup construction has really missed the point about the second spot. The last thing you want in that spot(especially with a traditional leadoff hitter) is a contact hitter who doesn't walk. That defeats the point of the speedy leadoff guy(a fast number two hitter and a slower runner is less likely to hit into a dp than reversing it---obvious lots of other factors into avoiding a dp of course...and of course generally speaking contact hitters don't see many pitches unless they foul off a lot, which doesn't help the speedy runner on first trying to steal.)


   31. Walt Davis Posted: May 04, 2014 at 06:02 PM (#4700073)
I always think of the Marlin teams from around 2002 and 2003 with Luis Castillo and Juan Pierre.

This gets to my AL point. With the DH, you could put one of these guys in the 9 spot and have a real slugger in the #2 spot. You have the "double leadoff" in every inning but the first. My memory is those great Brewer lineups had Gantner in the 9 spot ... not a huge OBP guy (and a worse hitter overall than I remember) but a lot better than a pitcher. Naturally Bobm's numbers show the NL#2 had a median 101 OPS+ while the AL had a 99 so ...

On Sandberg, etc. It's generally the case that if you have a very good hitting 2B or SS, they traditionally get slotted #2. But it's not clear that this isn't just keeping with tradition -- i.e. the 2B is "supposed" to hit 2nd; 2B/SS don't hit cleanup. The interesting ones are Fisk, Downing, etc. I'll admit though, I'd kinda forgotten about the super-high BA types at #2 -- Gwynn, Boggs, Carew (sometimes).

The other lineup thing I like is a guy with some SB ability in the #6 spot (or maybe #7 in the AL). Not blinding speed -- the #6 spot still needs to have decent power -- but a guy who can steal 15-20 bases a year maybe. You've got all these single hitters batting 7th and 8th, hopefully your #5 and #6 guys just cleared everybody off the bases -- good time for a steal.
   32. BDC Posted: May 04, 2014 at 06:20 PM (#4700076)
the super-high BA types at #2

I seem to remember George Brett batting #2 sometimes, but upon checking it that was concentrated in 1977-78-79: when he was already a big star (the 1976 batting champion) but still fairly young. He also hit leadoff quite a bit in those years, about a season's worth at both #1 and #2. IIRC Whitey Herzog was working on a theory of giving his best hitters the most PAs, traditional order be damned. Seemed to work OK for those Royals teams.
   33. John M. Perkins Posted: May 04, 2014 at 06:58 PM (#4700082)
Batting 2nd for the Atlanta Braves, center fielder B. J. Upton!
   34. cardsfanboy Posted: May 04, 2014 at 07:08 PM (#4700086)
On Sandberg, etc. It's generally the case that if you have a very good hitting 2B or SS, they traditionally get slotted #2. But it's not clear that this isn't just keeping with tradition -- i.e. the 2B is "supposed" to hit 2nd; 2B/SS don't hit cleanup. The interesting ones are Fisk, Downing, etc. I'll admit though, I'd kinda forgotten about the super-high BA types at #2 -- Gwynn, Boggs, Carew (sometimes).


I'm positive someone has remarked on how the Cubs lucked into a good lineup construction because of history, in that if you remove the positions they played, Grace looked more like the traditional number two hitter, while Sandberg looked like the more traditional number 3 or 4 hitter, but because of their positions, first base being a heart of the order and second being top or bottom, that they lucked into a better than normal lineup construction for the time.

This gets to my AL point. With the DH, you could put one of these guys in the 9 spot and have a real slugger in the #2 spot. You have the "double leadoff" in every inning but the first. My memory is those great Brewer lineups had Gantner in the 9 spot ... not a huge OBP guy (and a worse hitter overall than I remember) but a lot better than a pitcher. Naturally Bobm's numbers show the NL#2 had a median 101 OPS+ while the AL had a 99 so ...


I'm a huge fan of the pitcher batting 8th in the NL...I think it helps the team in the first 6 or so innings in that you have a much better chance of someone being on base when the 2nd and 3rd hitters come to bat. In later innings, it might do a little harm because now your pinch hitter (which should be a better hitter than your worst position player.) is further away from the heart of the order.

The other lineup thing I like is a guy with some SB ability in the #6 spot (or maybe #7 in the AL). Not blinding speed -- the #6 spot still needs to have decent power -- but a guy who can steal 15-20 bases a year maybe. You've got all these single hitters batting 7th and 8th, hopefully your #5 and #6 guys just cleared everybody off the bases -- good time for a steal.


I also fully support having your speed guys after the heart of the order. Utilize your speed and steals where you have less of a chance of taking the bat out of the batters hands. On top of that, in sacrifice situations(I.E. pitcher batting), that means your faster guys are probably on base.
   35. boteman is not here 'til October Posted: May 04, 2014 at 09:33 PM (#4700137)
A single data point: today Matt Williams inked in Kevin Frandsen in the #2 slot. The Nats couldn't buy a hit all day long so in the 8th after Span singled, what does Frandsen do? Bunt. Which raised the question of why you'd bat a guy 2nd if the best that can be hoped for is for him to sac bunt?
   36. Cyril Morong Posted: May 08, 2014 at 06:31 PM (#4703096)
from FC Lane's book called "Batting" that dealt with the batting order. It came out in the 1920s.

"Arthur Fletcher once played Cy Williams, his heaviest slugger, in second place. He said, "Cy isn't much of a bunter, I will admit. But he has some qualifications that you can't overlook. First of all, he's a right field hitter. That's what you want, a man to advance the runner. Then Cy seldom strikes out. You can generally depend upon him to hit the ball and hit it hard. Thus he advances the runner even though he is thrown out himself. And that's as good as a sacrifice. Besides, Cy is always likely to come through with a hit which may be a homer. Placing him high in the batting order you get more of his work. He'll go to bat five times in many a game where he would appear but four times if he batted farther down the list.""
   37. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: May 08, 2014 at 07:20 PM (#4703112)
Considering that historically speaking, the first inning has almost always been the highest scoring inning by pretty much every team, there is real world evidence that the traditionalist have it somewhat right.


What I've read is that the 1st is the highest scoring and the 2nd the lowest- and the average of the two innings is below average- which would seem to indicate sub-optimal lineup construction,,,

anyway, so far this year, run scoring by inning:
1: 514
2: 407
3: 478
4: 490
5: 500
6: 468
7: 453
8: 448
9: 378

The lowest offense is the 2nd, the next lowest is the 8th (not 9th think about it).
(I thinking the 8th is the lowest because generally speaking the set up guy is either the most effective guy in the pen or at worst the 2nd most effective guy in the pen after the closer, the "closer" otoh is the guy with the label but he may or may not be all that effective

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