Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Monday, March 20, 2017

Why Joe Maddon and The Geek Department think this Cubs lineup could be more explosive than last year’s team | CSN Chicago

The Geek Department has spoken, reaffirming Cubs manager Joe Maddon’s belief that Kyle Schwarber should be the leadoff guy atop another monster lineup projected to score more runs than the 2016 World Series champions.

“I’m all about the geeks,” Maddon said. “Everybody should have their own geek.”
...
“I talk to the guys upstairs: ‘This is what I’m thinking. Tell me where I’m wrong,’” Maddon said. “Like I said a couple years ago when Schwarber finally came up, I thought of hitting Schwarber first there and Dexter second. But they insisted the other way around. They were right.

“So, listen, I have no problem with that stuff. Believe me, that’s the one thing I have learned: You can have all the great feelings in the world. It still might not be the right thing. Like a guy comes up to me and says: ‘I have a good feeling about today.’ Oh my God, I want to run.

“How do you know? There are so many times I’ve come to the ballpark, felt like crap, and we’ll play the best game of the year. That has no correlation. You can feel all you want. (But) they gave me some solid information. I’m open for all that stuff.”

Jim Furtado Posted: March 20, 2017 at 06:47 AM | 65 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cubs

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. McCoy Posted: March 20, 2017 at 09:01 AM (#5419719)
Is Heyward on the DL? That would about do it.
   2. Covfefe Posted: March 20, 2017 at 09:18 AM (#5419725)
Having Schwarber around for the year will certainly help... I'd say that a full year of Contreras over Montero, too -- but Ross's excellent swan song probably makes that just about a wash. I look for Addy to make another big offensive step forward this year.

Losing Fowler is going to hurt more than I think most people think, though...

Rizzo is Rizzo - and as much one might want to hope Bryant takes another step forward, it's awful hard to build past even further past a 7 WAR/MVP, so I'll be happy if he holds serve.

Being a 2B on the wrong side of 35 is always scary, but Zobrist shows little sign of slowing down -- and I expect him to get a lot more OF time this year, which can hopefully extend his offensive value.

If Heyward can manage to not suck, I don't see why 5 runs a game isn't doable again... it's the pitching - especially the rotation - that worries me more.
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 20, 2017 at 09:31 AM (#5419729)
I remain confused as to why the Cubs would lead off Scwarber and bat Zobrist in the middle of the order, rather than flipping that.

Zobrist projects for 15-20 pts. higher in OBP, while Schwarber projects to ~70 pts. more in SLG.
   4. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: March 20, 2017 at 09:37 AM (#5419730)
I remain confused as to why the Cubs would lead off Scwarber and bat Zobrist in the middle of the order, rather than flipping that.


I guess it's a LRLR thing. He doesn't want 2 lefties batting consecutively.
   5. Russ Posted: March 20, 2017 at 09:47 AM (#5419732)
I guess it's a LRLR thing. He doesn't want 2 lefties batting consecutively.


It would be interesting to see if alternating batting stance handedness has increased as the use of short relievers has increased. Going LRLRL or RLRLR is a great way to get into the backend of a bullpen more quickly.
   6. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 20, 2017 at 09:51 AM (#5419734)
I guess it's a LRLR thing. He doesn't want 2 lefties batting consecutively.

I really don't know why managers worry about that so much. It seems counterproductive to design your lineup around a 7th inning matchup that may or may not ever happen.

Especially the Cubs, since Rizzo hits lefties fine, and you can pinch hit for Scwarber anyway. I imagine he'll be replaced for defense a lot late in games.
   7. dlf Posted: March 20, 2017 at 10:31 AM (#5419765)
I wish I had the BBREF PI chops to prove or disprove this, but it feels like there is less use of LOOGYs now than a decade or so ago. It seemed like in the late 90s through late 00s, pretty much every team had one guy - and some had more than one - who would have more games than innings pitched, but that has gone down over time. My gut instinct is that there is more of a set 7 / 8 / 9 inning specialization and less of one based on handedness.
   8. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 20, 2017 at 10:47 AM (#5419781)
I guess it's a LRLR thing. He doesn't want 2 lefties batting consecutively.

Considering he's talking about the stat dept's projections, it probably doesn't. It's probably Schwarber's better baserunning, and I'd guess it would include a pretty accurate (well, as accurate as these things go) prediction of how the playing time is allocated.
   9. Jean Claude Vander Wal (Pokey1228) Posted: March 20, 2017 at 10:49 AM (#5419783)
It seems counterproductive to design your lineup around a 7th inning matchup that may or may not ever happen.


I watched a lot of '07 - '11 Phillies games where Utley/Howard were back to back. A LOOGY would be brought in to face Utley (who was fine against LHP) and he would get to face Howard (who was terrible) without having to pitch to a righty in between. It just seemed sub-optimal given that most of the time there was a reasonably good righty to put between them (peak Jayson Werth, Pat Burrell) most of the time.

It seems like if you have two lefty hitters - and one is okay against LHP and one isn't - you'd want to split them up so the other team either:
a) has to have the LOOGY pitch to a righty
b) is forced to to burn two LOOGYs

Of course, all of this is moot if teams aren't using LOOGYs much anymore or the two lefties in question don't fit that description.
   10. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: March 20, 2017 at 10:52 AM (#5419785)
I'd prefer Schwarber bat leadoff to maximize PA.
   11. JJ1986 Posted: March 20, 2017 at 10:55 AM (#5419791)
Zobrist-Bryant-Rizzo-Contreras-Schwarber-Russell-Heyward-Baez.
   12. Covfefe Posted: March 20, 2017 at 10:57 AM (#5419794)
Given that I would expect Baez to be a lineup 'regular' more or less in a swing role, plus whatever happens with the OF rotation -- I'm not going to get too worked up over the lineup because I very much expect Maddon to have a lot of variance anyway.

Beyond Bryant-Rizzo at 2-3 -- I think we'll see a lot of permutations based on who plays on any given day.
   13. SoSH U at work Posted: March 20, 2017 at 11:33 AM (#5419824)
I really don't know why managers worry about that so much. It seems counterproductive to design your lineup around a 7th inning matchup that may or may not ever happen.


I couldn't disagree more. We know lineups don't matter all that much, other than getting your best hitters the most plate appearances. Given that, it makes no sense to give your opponents a free opportunity to use a LOOGY as a LOTGY.

   14. Charles S. hopes his opening day is b4 opening day Posted: March 20, 2017 at 11:35 AM (#5419825)
If Maddon's planning to pull Schwarber for defense in late innings, having him in the leadoff spot give him a better chance to get more PAs. also, and I'm just spit-balling here, a strike-out with no one on is the least damaging strike-out (as compared to other types of outs). Thus putting the more strike-out-prone guy in the lead-off spot makes a kind of sense.
   15. T.J. Posted: March 20, 2017 at 12:06 PM (#5419866)
^^^^ Your spit-balling theory is the one I've heard as the reason to hit Schwarbs first and Zo fourth. Zobrist and Schwarber might have similar OBPs, but Zobrist will strike out a lot less. If a batter comes up with two outs and a runner on, there's a lot of value in putting the ball in play, whereas a strikeout would be the worst possible outcome.
   16. Cargo Cultist Posted: March 20, 2017 at 12:08 PM (#5419870)
Duplicate. Sorry.
   17. Cargo Cultist Posted: March 20, 2017 at 12:09 PM (#5419871)
The 2016 Cubs allowed only a .255 BABIP defensively. MLB average was .298. Second place to the Cubs? The Blue Jays at .282. See how big that gap is?

That's a ridiculous statistical outlier. Expect regression to the mean.

It would take a hellacious offensive surge to make up for that.

   18. SoSH U at work Posted: March 20, 2017 at 12:10 PM (#5419873)

^^^^ Your spit-balling theory is the one I've heard as the reason to hit Schwarbs first and Zo fourth. Zobrist and Schwarber might have similar OBPs, but Zobrist will strike out a lot less. If a batter comes up with two outs and a runner on, there's a lot of value in putting the ball in play, whereas a strikeout would be the worst possible outcome.


On the other hand, the strikeout guy also doesn't hit ground balls to the shortstop as much as the contact guy, so the first and third K is less damaging than the same ball that gets turned into two. I'm not sure which way the scales tip there.

   19. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: March 20, 2017 at 12:28 PM (#5419892)
If a batter comes up with two outs and a runner on, there's a lot of value in putting the ball in play, whereas a strikeout would be the worst possible outcome.


Second worst. And no worse than a line out or popup or a shallow OF fly.
   20. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 20, 2017 at 12:29 PM (#5419894)
I couldn't disagree more. We know lineups don't matter all that much, other than getting your best hitters the most plate appearances. Given that, it makes no sense to give your opponents a free opportunity to use a LOOGY as a LOTGY.

Fine. Then bat Schwarber 2nd or 4th. Zobrist, Schwarber, Bryant, Rizzo, or Zobrist, Rizzo, Bryant, Schwarber avoids the 2 lefties.

It just seems dumb having a guy who projects to a .500 SLG% (Zips 243/337/504) batting behind the pitcher and your crappiest hitters, and a guy projected to SLG .430 (Zobrist Zips 267/357/430) bat cleanup.
   21. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: March 20, 2017 at 12:33 PM (#5419903)
The 2016 Cubs allowed only a .255 BABIP defensively. MLB average was .298. Second place to the Cubs? The Blue Jays at .282. See how big that gap is?

That's a ridiculous statistical outlier. Expect regression to the mean.

It would take a hellacious offensive surge to make up for that.


The Cubs have outstanding defense. Sure they may not be first by such a huge margin, but it would not be ridiculous for them to be first again. Baez, Russell, Rizzo, and Heyward are legitimately excellent. Bryant is pretty good, above average at least. A Jay/Almora platoon in CF will be better than Fowler.
   22. bfan Posted: March 20, 2017 at 12:39 PM (#5419906)
does batting Schwarber 1st maximize the chances you can replace him defensively quickly? Shoot, if you are on the road, you have a shot at getting him 2 AB's and him only playing 1 inning in the field (you only need 10 AB's over 2 innings to get there). It is kind of a reverse timing pinch-hitter concept, where you get an extra AB out of him, with very little field time risk.
   23. SoSH U at work Posted: March 20, 2017 at 12:39 PM (#5419908)
Second worst. And no worse than a line out or popup or a shallow OF fly.


What's the worst? Other than fatal stroke, it seems just about every out-based outcome is tied for first. Of course, T.J.'s point is accurate if you say putting the ball in play is more valuable in that situation than swinging and missing.

   24. SoSH U at work Posted: March 20, 2017 at 12:41 PM (#5419910)
does batting Schwarber 1st maximize the chances you can replace him defensively quickly?


Batting him first maximizes his PAs. It has no bearing on how quickly you can replace him defensively.

   25. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: March 20, 2017 at 12:47 PM (#5419915)
What's the worst? Other than fatal stroke, it seems just about every out-based outcome is tied for first.


GIDP.

edit: never mind. I read it as 2 on one out, not 2 out one on.
   26. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 20, 2017 at 12:48 PM (#5419918)
What's the worst?

Carried off by raptors. That's the one the analysts never think of.
   27. bfan Posted: March 20, 2017 at 12:52 PM (#5419922)
Batting him first maximizes his PAs. It has no bearing on how quickly you can replace him defensively.


Nonsense; both can be (and are) true.
   28. Man o' Schwar Posted: March 20, 2017 at 12:55 PM (#5419928)
Carried off by raptors. That's the one the analysts never think of.

Harry Caray would have had a field day with that one.
   29. Spahn Insane, stimulus-funded BurlyMan™ Posted: March 20, 2017 at 01:01 PM (#5419931)
I guess it's a LRLR thing. He doesn't want 2 lefties batting consecutively.

I may have hallucinated this, but didn't Maddon say something about going back to hitting the pitcher 8th more often? That could increase the value of Schwarber's power in the leadoff spot, in theory, hitting right behind another position player.
   30. SoSH U at work Posted: March 20, 2017 at 01:01 PM (#5419932)
Nonsense; both can be (and are) true.


Sorry, it isn't. How quickly you can replace him (which, is of course, an entirely subjective POV) is dictated by, primarily, defensive innings remaining and lead and the likelihood of him coming up again. And the likelihood of him coming up again is essentially the same no matter where you bat him to start with.

   31. Cargo Cultist Posted: March 20, 2017 at 01:04 PM (#5419936)
The Cubs have outstanding defense. Sure they may not be first by such a huge margin, but it would not be ridiculous for them to be first again. Baez, Russell, Rizzo, and Heyward are legitimately excellent. Bryant is pretty good, above average at least. A Jay/Almora platoon in CF will be better than Fowler.


Outstanding defense is insufficient to explain that extraordinary BABIP. It's unsustainable, and it's going to regress to the mean.
   32. Spahn Insane, stimulus-funded BurlyMan™ Posted: March 20, 2017 at 01:04 PM (#5419937)
Also, I wonder if Schwarber's lack of speed is a consideration in hitting him leadoff (counterintuitive though that sounds)--he's more likely to be driven in by Bryant/Rizzo than by whoever's at the bottom of the lineup, not that those guys are chopped liver.

Also also: I've only watched one spring game this year, but Schwarber looks noticeably slimmer to me than he did during the series. He looked pretty good legging out a triple.
   33. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 20, 2017 at 01:05 PM (#5419942)
I may have hallucinated this, but didn't Maddon say something about going back to hitting the pitcher 8th more often?

If your hallucinations aren't any better than this, I recommend you try some stronger stuff.
   34. Spahn Insane, stimulus-funded BurlyMan™ Posted: March 20, 2017 at 01:12 PM (#5419958)
Well, I didn't say that was my ONLY (or best) hallucination...
   35. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: March 20, 2017 at 01:15 PM (#5419964)
It just seems dumb having a guy who projects to a .500 SLG% (Zips 243/337/504) batting behind the pitcher and your crappiest hitters, and a guy projected to SLG .430 (Zobrist Zips 267/357/430) bat cleanup.

It also seems kind of dumb to give the lesser hitter an additional 50 PA.
   36. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 20, 2017 at 01:19 PM (#5419969)
It also seems kind of dumb to give the lesser hitter an additional 50 PA.

Then why isn't Bryant batting 1st?
   37. Charles S. hopes his opening day is b4 opening day Posted: March 20, 2017 at 01:25 PM (#5419974)

Sorry, it isn't. How quickly you can replace him (which, is of course, an entirely subjective POV) is dictated by, primarily, defensive innings remaining and lead and the likelihood of him coming up again. And the likelihood of him coming up again is essentially the same no matter where you bat him to start with.

If you replace a guy after 6 innings, he's more likely to have gotten 4 PAs as a leadoff hitter than as a #4. "Can replace" was just a turn-of-phrase. Of course you can replace him any time you want.
   38. SoSH U at work Posted: March 20, 2017 at 01:32 PM (#5419988)
If you replace a guy after 6 innings, he's more likely to have gotten 4 PAs as a leadoff hitter than as a #4. "Can replace" was just a turn-of-phrase. Of course you can replace him any time you want.


But your goal isn't to get x number of PAs before removal.

Batting leadoff means you're always likely to have gotten more PAs in a given game than anyone else. But the decision on whether to remove a guy for defense is based on how many, if any, more he's going to get. And the leadoff hitter is not more likely to get additional PAs than anyone else in the lineup.*

That's why I said, batting him leadoff maximizes his PAs. It doesn't change the calculus on whether you remove him for defense.

* Technically speaking, in virtually every lineup, he's slightly less likely to get additional PAs than anyone batting 2-9.
   39. Charles S. hopes his opening day is b4 opening day Posted: March 20, 2017 at 01:36 PM (#5420001)
But your goal isn't to get x number of PAs before removal.

Batting leadoff means you're always likely to have gotten more PAs in a given game than anyone else. But the decision on whether to remove a guy for defense is based on how many, if any, more he's going to get.

That's why I said, batting him leadoff maximizes his PAs. It doesn't change the calculus on whether you can remove him for defense.


If your goal is to get Zobrist and Schwarber (and really all your good hitters) at least 4 PAs each, and you are more likely to pull Schwarber for defensive purposes after 6 innings than anyone else, then doesn't it make sense to bat Schwarber 1st? What am I missing here? Are we just talking past each other?
   40. Covfefe Posted: March 20, 2017 at 01:37 PM (#5420002)
The 2016 Cubs allowed only a .255 BABIP defensively. MLB average was .298. Second place to the Cubs? The Blue Jays at .282. See how big that gap is?

That's a ridiculous statistical outlier. Expect regression to the mean.

It would take a hellacious offensive surge to make up for that.



The Cubs have outstanding defense. Sure they may not be first by such a huge margin, but it would not be ridiculous for them to be first again. Baez, Russell, Rizzo, and Heyward are legitimately excellent. Bryant is pretty good, above average at least. A Jay/Almora platoon in CF will be better than Fowler.


I'm with Misirlou --

Some regression? Sure, sure.... but for my money, I'd say that they have the best defensive IF in baseball - on days when Baez is part of it, I really don't see a debate on that. Contreras over the husk of Montero should likewise be a plus - they may suffer a bit on the pitch framing, but there's no question that Contreras has a hella lot more range and arm (i.e., the portion of catcher defense you'd expect to show up in defensive metrics).

Schwarber in LF MIGHT take them down a peg, but then -- Fowler had far and away the best defensive season of his career. I expect the Almora/Jay/Heyward CF to be better than that.

Regardless - the Cubs had far and away the best run differential in baseball... They actually underperformed their by pythag.

They were legitimately a great defensive team. They were legitimately a great offensive team. They were legitimately a great pitching team.

I see zero reason why the defense shouldn't be just a good - perhaps even a smidge better. The offense - I expect a bit of a push (losing Fowler/adding Schwarber). It's the pitching -- and mainly, the idea that it's thin ice territory to expect such great health (at least out of the rotation) yet again.

The bullpen did have its share of (late) injuries -- and the Cubs are leaning on a 42 yo, a dynamite closer who had some arm problems, another ace closer who fell apart in August and thereafter.

My concerns start and stop with the pitching... If the Cubs disappoint this year, I feel fairly certain it will be because the pitching either doesn't stay healthy, falls apart or some combination of both.

Other than truly freak, abundant injuries -- or half the lineup developing Meth + Cheetos habits, I have zero concern about the defense or the lineup.
   41. SoSH U at work Posted: March 20, 2017 at 01:45 PM (#5420013)
If your goal is to get Zobrist and Schwarber (and really all your good hitters) at least 4 PAs each, and you are more likely to pull Schwarber for defensive purposes after 6 innings than anyone else, then doesn't it make sense to bat Schwarber 1st? What am I missing here? Are we just talking past each other?


Your goal on offense is to score the most runs you can. If you think batting Kyle Schwarber first accomplishes that, then do it. If you think your lineup will score more runs when he bats fourth, then do that.

If your goal is to minimize Schwarber's damage in the outfield, then take him out when the conditions are most suitable. How many plate appearances he's rung up before then is immaterial to that question. How many PAs he has left is.
   42. Cargo Cultist Posted: March 20, 2017 at 02:06 PM (#5420035)
Defensive BABIP is not only about defense. Watch their BABIP and see.
   43. Charles S. hopes his opening day is b4 opening day Posted: March 20, 2017 at 02:16 PM (#5420041)
Your goal on offense is to score the most runs you can. If you think batting Kyle Schwarber first accomplishes that, then do it. If you think your lineup will score more runs when he bats fourth, then do that.

If your goal is to minimize Schwarber's damage in the outfield, then take him out when the conditions are most suitable. How many plate appearances he's rung up before then is immaterial to that question. How many PAs he has left is.

Say you think your team is at its best offensively when Schwarber gets the most PAs. AND you think your team has the best chance to win if Schwarber plays the fewest number of innings on defense. Somehow you have to meld these two ideas. Batting him first would help with that.
   44. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: March 20, 2017 at 02:25 PM (#5420050)
Then why isn't Bryant batting 1st?

Because Schwarber.
   45. SoSH U at work Posted: March 20, 2017 at 02:28 PM (#5420055)
Say you think your team is at its best offensively when Schwarber gets the most PAs. AND you think your team has the best chance to win if Schwarber plays the fewest number of innings on defense. Somehow you have to meld these two ideas. Batting him first would help with that.


Or, to show how this doesn't really hold:

Say you think your team is at its best offensively when Schwarber hits lefthanded. And you think your team has the best chance to win if Schwarber doesn't play second base. Somehow you have to meld these two ideas. Forcing him to bat lefthanded helps with that.

Both your statement and mine are true. The problem in both cases is the former still has no relationship with the latter.

Batting Schwarber first makes sense if you think that's the best way to configure your lineup to maximize run scoring. It has no bearing on your defensive decisions.
   46. jmurph Posted: March 20, 2017 at 02:40 PM (#5420066)
If he bats first he'll get his 4th at-bat sooner than if he bats 8th, and in this increasingly pedantic example in which he's coming out immediately after his 4th at-bat, then that means fewer defensive innings played for him. How is this not irrefutably true?
   47. SoSH U at work Posted: March 20, 2017 at 02:50 PM (#5420072)

If he bats first he'll get his 4th at-bat sooner than if he bats 8th, and in this increasingly pedantic example in which he's coming out immediately after his 4th at-bat, then that means fewer defensive innings played for him. How is this not irrefutably true?


Because your goal isn't to get Schwarber four plate appearances, and no more. If you take Schwarber out as soon as he gets his fourth PA, that increases the plate appearances your inferior hitter is going to get over the course of the rest of the game.

Build your offense based on the best lineup for scoring runs.

Build your defense based on the best distribution of talent around the diamond.

If you want to make a decision to remove a superior hitter for a better fielder to protect a lead, you do so based on a) score, b) innings remaining, and c) how many more PAs is your superior hitter going to get, among other things. How many plate appearances your superior hitter has already gotten is immaterial.

If you think Schwarber in the leadoff spot is the best to maximize run scoring, do that. Don't do it because you might want to take him out of the game later.

   48. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: March 20, 2017 at 02:51 PM (#5420073)
Defensive BABIP is not only about defense. Watch their BABIP and see.


So when you say a reversion to the mean, do you mean the mean for all teams, or the mean for an outstanding defensive team? If it's the latter, then you are arguing against nothing, as I said in my first response:

" Sure they may not be first by such a huge margin, but it would not be ridiculous for them to be first again.".

If it's the mean for all teams, then that's simply not true. I mean they could, but defense surely has something to do with BABIP.
   49. T.J. Posted: March 20, 2017 at 03:23 PM (#5420092)
Carried off by raptors. That's the one the analysts never think of.

Harry Caray would have had a field day with that one.
"RAPTOR spelled backward is ROTPAR!"
   50. Walt Davis Posted: March 20, 2017 at 06:00 PM (#5420226)
I think The Book identified back-to-back LHB as one of the worst sins a modern lineup can contain.

My impression is also that you have fewer true LOOGYs ... but may not less platoon advantage-seeking. I think the main pressure is that teams have so many relief IP to cover and are already pushed out to 8 relievers. If you're going to hold with the short-relief model, you simply can't carry a guy who's going to throw only 35-40 innings per year. However, I think that has probably meant more that your LOOGy has to also absorb some garbage innings. Travis Wood had a good number of 1-2 BF appearances and was the Cubs long reliever. Before becoming an unhittable closer then super-reliever, Andrew Miller mainly had high-leverage LOOGy outings and low-leverage long outings. Meanwhile, we have also seen the emergence of the ROOGy, also used in that manner.

But we also know that, contrary to popular belief, the number of mid-inning pitching changes hasn't been rising (although I don't know if we have 2016's numbers) so that would seem to rule out LOOGy usage rising.

I don't know of any way to use P-I to isolate 1-2 BF outings ... and even then we wouldn't know for sure that it was a LOOGy style outing. But we can look at the ratio of GR/IP.

First trying to isolate the beast. For 2001-2005, min 30 IP, I get only 25 seasons with GR > 1.5*IP. That's only 5 a year. Clearly the super-LOOGy wasn't running rampant earlier in the century. If I drop it to 1.2 we get 87 which is one every other team-season. If we go below 1.2, there's not really much point. I hadn't done anything with handedness but indeed 79 of those 87 seasons were by LHP.

That same search for 2011-15 turns up 125 such seasons, 98 by LHP. For 2016, 20 LHP and 8 RHP -- LOOGy right in line, ROOGy maybe up. The most LOOGy-ish were Oliver Perez (64 GR, 40 IP), Hunter Cervenka (64/43) and Jerry Blevins (73/42, Mike Myers would be proud). The top ROOGys were Neshek (60/47), Justin Grimm (68/52) and maybe Romo (40/30).

A more detailed look might turn up a different-looking trend but at least at this level of aggregation, the LOOGy is in as much use as ever and we have a few ROOGys too.
   51. Walt Davis Posted: March 20, 2017 at 06:42 PM (#5420244)
The "does batting 1st make it easier to replace him" question might be a classic example of strategy vs. tactics. The in-game decision is tactical and I think it's correct to say that this has nothing to do with where the guy bats in the order, it's a decision based on lead, remaining PAs, upcoming hitters (i.e. the occasional need for a double-switch), pinch-running, etc. The decision about the season (or a long stretch of games) is strategic and here the #1 will get the most PAs and, therefore, if your #1 is also likely to be pulled for defense, this will (on average) maximize his # of PAs before being pulled regardless of the fact that his number of completed PAs plays no part in the decision of whether to pull him.

That said, the number of PAs lost batting him 1st vs. 4th is probably no more than a handful.

On the other hand, there is a relationship between batting order position and inning in which you're more likely to bat. Take Dexter Fowler -- all but 5 of his 2016 PA came from the #1 spot. Obviously the 1st inning dominates with 121 of 551. The 3rd is next with 81, followed by the 7th with 61 and the 5th with 60. Especially at home, the 7th is a perfect time to pull a guy for defense if he's probably just had his last PA.

Every one of Nelson Cruz's 667 PA came in the 4th spot. His most common were the 1st (98), 4th (89), 6th (86) and 8th (75). In the 7th, he had 63, the 2nd lowest of the first 8 innings. For Cruz, you could consider batting him higher in the order in games in which he plays the field because batting 4th increases the probability that he will have a PA coming in the 8th. However, chances are very low that you would lose a Cruz PA even on the road.

It would seem that batting a player 1st means you can better optimize the balance between minimizing his defensive innings while also minimizing his lost PAs which would be a (likely trivial) strategic advantage over batting him 4th.

Obviously the Fowler and Cruz numbers will vary based on tons of randomness and overall offensive production (PA/inning, PA/game). I just knew that Fowler had almost all his PAs at #1 ... took me a while to think of Cruz as a possible full-time #4 (Chris Davis and David Ortiz both had many PAs in other slots).

FWIW, Cruz had 61 PA after the 8th (43 in the 9th) giving him 136 after the 7th (20%). Fowler had 53 after the 8th (41 in the 9th) and 105 after the 7th (19%). So, over a full season, WAGging that Schwarber would get pulled in about half the games, probably no more than 3-4 fewer lost PAs by batting him #1 ... but also reducing his defensive innings by, I dunno, an extra 30-40 by more often being able to pull him after 7 without (likely) losing a PA.
   52. Tom Nawrocki Posted: March 20, 2017 at 07:40 PM (#5420281)
So when you say a reversion to the mean, do you mean the mean for all teams, or the mean for an outstanding defensive team? If it's the latter, then you are arguing against nothing, as I said in my first response:

" Sure they may not be first by such a huge margin, but it would not be ridiculous for them to be first again.".


I think Cubs fans are whistling past the graveyard a little bit on this. The Cubs didn't just lead the majors in BABIP last year; they didn't just lead the majors in BABIP by a large margin last year; they allowed the lowest BABIP by any team in nearly 35 years, since the legendary 1982 Padres. That's the definition of unsustainable.

Even if they still have the best defense in the majors, they could lead the league again in BABIP and still see it go up 30 points. They're going to allow A LOT more hits in 2017 than they did in 2016. And they're not going to make it through the season without a starter missing a turn either. I'd guess they allow 100 more runs next year.
   53. BurlyBuehrle Posted: March 20, 2017 at 09:25 PM (#5420331)
I see zero reason why the defense shouldn't be just a good - perhaps even a smidge better.


Are bb-ref sponsorship bets still a thing? How much do said sponsorships cost? (I can't find it quickly.)

I realize that the quoted statement is not the same thing as directly discussing BABIP allowed...but I'd be willing to take the over on 255 BABIP allowed by the 17 Cubbies.

EDIT: What 52 said, for the most part.
   54. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 20, 2017 at 11:13 PM (#5420369)
I'd guess they allow 100 more runs next year.

I completely agree with the point about pitcher health. Plenty of us thought they were pretty luckily healthy in 15.

However, the Cubs allowed 608 in 15, and 556 in 16. So I'll easily take the under on that 656.
   55. Howie Menckel Posted: March 20, 2017 at 11:24 PM (#5420373)
Maddon is a genius and I love his OTB thinking, but he has gotten lucky more than once, so it is likely he will pay the price this year. and that is human.
   56. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: March 20, 2017 at 11:50 PM (#5420378)
Even if they still have the best defense in the majors, they could lead the league again in BABIP and still see it go up 30 points. They're going to allow A LOT more hits in 2017 than they did in 2016. And they're not going to make it through the season without a starter missing a turn either. I'd guess they allow 100 more runs next year.

Yeah, this all sounds reasonable to me. I'm also worried about their bullpen and how that'll hold up, especially if Strop/Rondon scuffle like they both did late last year.

But one of the nice things about the Cubs: if they allow 100 more runs than last year, they still are the favorite to win the division. Man that team was good last year.
   57. Walt Davis Posted: March 21, 2017 at 01:34 AM (#5420408)
1. The rotation was incredibly healthy last year. But they were also completely healthy in 2015 -- just had problems finding a decent 5th starter. And in 2014 pretty much everybody made all their starts, mainly just issues around filling in after the Samardzija/Hammel trade. In 2013, Shark, Wood and Jackson made all their starts, Feldman made all his pre-trade starts and Garza was still recovering from the year before then made all his pre-trade starts. The Cubs haven't had a major SP injury since July 2012 (Garza).

Now I've jinxed them obviously but whether that was an excellent run of luck or Bosio and the trainers have figured something out or the nerds have figured something out I can't say. The White Sox went through an amazingly long run of SP health back in the mid-2000s ... that I'm not sure has really stopped since then.

2. On paper, the Cubs bullpen is much better than what they started 2015 with. On field, it will mainly be a question of health.

3. I agree the Cubs BABIP allowed will regress and it could be quite dramatic. 30 points would be (by quick calculation) about 115-120 outs turned into hits and that could be 90-95 runs right there. But I had a few posts last year looking at individual Cub pitcher BABIPs of the last few years. Several guys are on a run of good BABIPs over 2-3 seasons (or were halfway through last season) ... and whether by design or luck, the Cubs have gotten rid of pretty much every pitcher with an above-average BABIP. I agree the most likely explanation for any of that is luck and that we're nowhere near the point where we'd have to start conceding that maybe they know something (positioning? keeping the ball down? working the corners? just getting into 2-strike counts a lot?)

4. As noted, they were actually 4 games under their pythag last year. By pythag, somewhere around 30-40 more RA puts them at 103 ... so those extra runs are "free." A full 100 runs extra still would put them around 95 pythag wins.

5. The offense probably also projects a little worse. Bryant probably isn't quite that good (at least not in total WAR sense), Schwarber won't necessarily be any upgrade offensively on Fowler, Heyward may still be struggling mightily, the bench had a very good year and Zobrist is getting old. Of course it's also possible that Bryant really is that good, Heyward rebounds some, Zobrist hangs on, Schwarber whacks 40 HR and Russell and Baez take steps forward offensively.

6. All of this is just an exercise in why even the best teams rarely project to much more than 92-93 wins. Too many variables. For all we know the entire rotation will be on the DL by June and Heyward's name will have been changed to protect the innocent. White people problems.
   58. Ardo Posted: March 21, 2017 at 03:36 AM (#5420414)
I fully anticipate the Cubs will score 800 runs in 2017 - maybe even more, if Schwarber slashes .280/.380/.500, Baez improves his plate discipline, and Heyward bounces back.

Yet I think 650 runs allowed might be optimistic, mainly because of the rotation.

- Lester is still elite, but he had (by some measures) his best season last year; regression should be expected.
- Arrieta struggled with command, high pitch counts, and gopher balls in the second half, looking uncomfortably like Baltimore Jake.
- Lackey is entering his age-38 year, made only 29 starts in 2016, and pitched poorly in the postseason.
- Hendricks... yes, he's one-of-a-kind, but I'll eat the sports page if he leads the majors in ERA again.

And the fifth starter spot is Brett Anderson - good luck staying healthy, Brett - and a bunch of unproven filler.
   59. Lassus Posted: March 21, 2017 at 08:21 AM (#5420428)
All this lineup talk makes me want to have a new rule where players' names are put into a hat - literally - and picked at the start of each game for the batting order.
   60. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: March 21, 2017 at 08:40 AM (#5420431)
the #1 will get the most PAs and, therefore, if your #1 is also likely to be pulled for defense, this will (on average) maximize his # of PAs before being pulled


Sure, but you only want to maximize his number of at bats if he's your best hitter. If you have an average hitting second baseman, and a crappy hitting defensive replacement, you're not going to put the average hitting second baseman in the leadoff hole to "maximize the number of at bats before pulling him." You put Schwarber there if you think he's the best fit for the lineup.

It would seem that batting a player 1st means you can better optimize the balance between minimizing his defensive innings while also minimizing his lost PAs which would be a (likely trivial) strategic advantage over batting him 4th.


Except the leadoff hitter is also much more likely to hit again in the ninth inning than the No. 4 batter, so you're often giving one extra PA to your lesser hitting backup in this configuration.

   61. Andere Richtingen Posted: March 21, 2017 at 09:36 AM (#5420449)
I fully anticipate the Cubs will score 800 runs in 2017 - maybe even more, if Schwarber slashes .280/.380/.500, Baez improves his plate discipline, and Heyward bounces back.

Yet I think 650 runs allowed might be optimistic, mainly because of the rotation.


Works for me! I'll take a 96 win projection.
   62. Covfefe Posted: March 21, 2017 at 10:20 AM (#5420483)
- Hendricks... yes, he's one-of-a-kind, but I'll eat the sports page if he leads the majors in ERA again.


Book marked :-)

I was mini-Madduxing him back before mini-Madduxing him was cool.

He's gonna win the CYA this year.
   63. Walt Davis Posted: March 22, 2017 at 03:42 AM (#5421068)
Sure, but you only want to maximize his number of at bats if he's your best hitter. If you have an average hitting second baseman, and a crappy hitting defensive replacement, you're not going to put the average hitting second baseman in the leadoff hole to "maximize the number of at bats before pulling him." You put Schwarber there if you think he's the best fit for the lineup.

Well, sure. But players who don't hit really well and play lousy defense are rarely starters. Pretty much by definition, a player who is pulled regularly for defense is one of the team's better hitters.

But it's neither here nor there how common a situation it is. Schwarber is (likely) a player for whom you want to maximize his PAs while minimizing his defensive innings. In the AL, that's a full-time DH. In the NL that is usually "pull him after what you expect/hope is his last PA."

But fair enough, it would be more accurate to say that: for any player you expect/want/hope to replace defensively on a regular basis, you want to minimize their defensive innings while minimizing their lost PAs (rather than maximizing their PAs per se). That should hold true regardless of the quality of the hitter -- i.e. he must be a better hitter than his defensive replacement or he wouldn't be a regular starter -- without pushing him up. But presumably you're still faced with the issue of whether to put the guy 6th to 9th in your lineup and there may be some small advantage to one of those spots over another.

Except the leadoff hitter is also much more likely to hit again in the ninth inning than the No. 4 batter, so you're often giving one extra PA to your lesser hitting backup in this configuration.

Which is why players are usually only pulled for defense when their team has the lead. Obviously doing so runs the risk you will surrender the lead and the replacement will have to bat in a crucial situation (this is called the Maddon-Heyward Screw-Up from the 2016 World Series). This is an argument against ever replacing Schwarber (or anybody). Obviously if your baseball gut or your nerdy brain is telling you that getting 1 or 2 innings of defensive replacement is not worth the risk of replacing this starter's PA with his sub's PA then you don't make the defensive replacement. Therefore there's no point even discussing this unless we start from the premise that, on average and on a fairly regular basis, it will be worth the Cubs' while to replace Schwarber on defense even if it sometimes results in a lost PA. We would like to take the time to estimate how many defensive innings we are replacing and how many PAs we are losing but the Cubs' stat nerds can take on that project if they want.

If you are going to pull him for defense on a regular basis then you would like to mimimize his defensive innings while minimizing his lost PAs. It's an optimization problem -- to which MAYBE an optimal solution, in the Schwarber case, is to bat him higher in the order. On a day when, say, Tommy LaStella is playing 3B, the optimal spot for him might be 7th ... although this will happen so rarely that it likely doesn't matter.

I'm not suggesting any of this is likely to matter much at all. If the Cubs are good and have the lead late on a regular basis and he plays everyday then maybe he could get pulled as many as 50 times after the 7th and 30 times after the 8th ... maybe we're talking 130 total defensive innings. Even if he's horrible out there, that's not more than 1-2 runs compared with average, maybe 2-3 runs compared to Almora/Jay/Szczur/etc. But it's also not likely to result in more than maybe 15-20 lost PAs and even he can't produce runs at a rate of 1 per 5-10 PA. By that math, we should probably yank him after 5 (if he turns out that bad in the OF).

The closest we have to an experiment are those few games Coghlan started at 2B in 2015. The Cubs moved Russell to SS and Castro temporarily to the bench. Coghlan got 6 straight starts at 2B then, a few days later, got 5 starts in 6 games. The Cubs won each of those first 6 starts and I'll assume they had the lead when he was pulled because I'm too lazy to check the box scores. He was pulled after 7, 6, 7, 6, 8 and 6 innings and I'll note the 8th inning one was a 3-2 win so he may have been left in for his bat. In the other 5 starts, he played the full game in a loss and was pulled after the 7th in the other 4. Hmmm ... would be nice if the game log also included lineup position. But lineups are available on the Cubs page and he batted 3rd in all 11 of those games. But he was generally batting 3rd against RHP at that time so Maddon wasn't picking his lineup spot based on this. (Note, I don't think anybody is saying Maddon is picking Schwarber's lineup spot based on this either, just a question of whether it's a small benefit to #1 over #4).
   64. SoSH U at work Posted: March 22, 2017 at 10:03 AM (#5421172)

I'm not suggesting any of this is likely to matter much at all.


So, basically what I said.

Say your options are Schwarber to start in the OF, a still-limp bat Heyward relegated to his late-inning replacment, and Ben Zobrist or Schwarber in the 1 and 4 holes.

Batting Schwarber first gives you a 33 percent better chance of lifting him after seven having gotten his recommended daily allowance of 4 PAs. It also gives you 33 percent greater chance to get an extra PA from Heyward rather than Zobrist. And sure, sometimes it doesn't matter because you don't lose the lead. OTOH, sometimes the ball doesn't get hit to Heyward in the additional inning he's out there.

When you run all the variables, maybe there's a slight benefit to hitting him first. But it's just as possible there's a slight benefit to hitting him fourth.

Given that, I stand by my original contention - order your lineup based on what you think is going to score the most runs - not based on a hypothetical defensive switch seven innings later.



   65. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: March 22, 2017 at 10:20 AM (#5421180)
Which is why players are usually only pulled for defense when their team has the lead. Obviously doing so runs the risk you will surrender the lead and the replacement will have to bat in a crucial situation (this is called the Maddon-Heyward Screw-Up from the 2016 World Series).

Even worse was Michael Martinez making the final out. Terry Francona getting too cute.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

News

All News | Prime News

Old-School Newsstand


BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
1k5v3L
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogOMNICHATTER's lookin' forward to the weekend, Friday, Friday, September 22, 2017
(29 - 8:21pm, Sep 22)
Last: What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face?

NewsblogWhere have you gone, Tim Lincecum? In search of beloved Giants ace
(28 - 8:14pm, Sep 22)
Last: What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face?

Newsblog‘Friends,’ the Sitcom That’s Still a Hit in Major League Baseball
(456 - 7:55pm, Sep 22)
Last: Rennie's Tenet

NewsblogOTP 18 September 2017: Ex-Baseball Star Darryl Strawberry Criticizes Jemele Hill, Praises POTUS: Trump is ‘A Great Man’
(1231 - 7:47pm, Sep 22)
Last: Joe Bivens Will Take a Steaming Dump

NewsblogAlbert Pujols is having the worst season for a 37-year-old in MLB history
(30 - 7:47pm, Sep 22)
Last: Walt Davis

NewsblogDayton Moore on why Royals did not sell | MLB.com
(19 - 7:28pm, Sep 22)
Last: Zach

NewsblogRobinson Cano hits 300th home run | MLB.com
(30 - 7:27pm, Sep 22)
Last: Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant

NewsblogThe Rangers release artists’ renderings of their new ballpark
(24 - 7:21pm, Sep 22)
Last: Zach

NewsblogKarl Ravech on Twitter: There is no conversation worth having ...
(11 - 7:20pm, Sep 22)
Last: Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle

Sox TherapyStep One Complete
(35 - 7:15pm, Sep 22)
Last: villageidiom

NewsblogMarlins’ Brian Anderson — inspired by Brian Anderson and Brian Anderson — has one of the most common names in baseball history - Sun Sentinel
(26 - 5:30pm, Sep 22)
Last: What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face?

Gonfalon Cubs15 To Go
(78 - 5:27pm, Sep 22)
Last: Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington

NewsblogThe subtle change that saved Aroldis Chapman’s season | New York Post
(2 - 5:11pm, Sep 22)
Last: Mans Best Friend

NewsblogPat Neshek rips Zack Greinke for not signing autograph | SI.com
(52 - 4:57pm, Sep 22)
Last: Dog on the sidewalk

NewsblogMLB, Rob Manfred must expand protective netting | SI.com
(66 - 4:45pm, Sep 22)
Last: Dale H.

Page rendered in 0.9337 seconds
47 querie(s) executed