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Using the Bill James Handbook projections, I plugged OBP and SLG for the nine Tigers starters into the line-up analyzer. The Handbook projections tend to be optimistic, but this is the time of the year to be optimistic. Anyway, one possible line-up is shown in Table 1 below. The line-up tool says that line-up would score 5.687 runs per game or 921 runs in 162 games. That’s a lot of runs, but that’s because we are assuming that all nine players are going to play 162 games which, of course, won’t happen. That’s OK though. The goal is just to compare different line-ups.
...Table 2 shows that four of the five best line-ups have Prince Fielder leading off! In fact, eight of the top ten have Fielder at number one and all of the top thirty have either Fielder or Alex Avila. Remember though that this only looks at hitting and does not consider speed of which Fielder and Avila have none. More interesting to me is Cabrera in the two hole in all of the top thirty line-ups. That actually makes some sense, but I’d probably want someone with at least a little speed (as well as the ability to get on base) in front of him.
...It’s doubtful than any manager would ever have Fielder or Avila bat leadoff, but suppose we have Jackson lead off followed by Cabrera, an idea that appeals to me. The bottom four will be Dirks, Hunter, Infante and Peralta in some order. Fielder, Martinez and Avila will bat 3-4-5 in some order. I played around with various combinations and came up with the line-up in Table 4. This one would score and estimated 930 runs, 9 more runs or one win better than the Table 1 line-up. That’s probably not worth the uproar caused by having Cabrera batting second, but I like it in theory.