The Disappointment Zone

Musings from a Cleveland sports fan

Archive for September 12th, 2006

Indians optimal lineup 9/12

Posted by disappointmentzone on 12 September 2006

I started writing (at great length) about lineup optimization in baseball a couple of months ago, the main tenets of which can be found here. On August 1st I provided the optimal lineup for the Indians based on July’s statistics and who was on the roster and likely to start. I was planning on doing the same thing for September, but then Wedge and Shapiro threw a wrench in my project by playing about 129 different players in August; lineup optimization is much easier when teams stick to a group of nine or ten players.

Rather than follow the dictates of logic and reason (I blog in part because of the tenuous expectation for reason and logic) by doing an optimal lineup at the end of the season for the 2007 team based on the players from the 2006 team, I’m going to do so now, in mid-September. Because thinking and writing about the Browns is too damn depressing.

If the Indians had to play the 2007 season with the same guys from the 2006 team–I expect the Indians to sign a 2B this off season and maybe an OF, but never mind that–then I imagine the roster of probable starters would be this:

Sizemore
Blake
Michaels
Choo
Marte
Peralta
Inglett
Luna
Garko
Martinez
Shoppach
Hafner

More specifically, against right-handed pitchers the probable starters would be:

Sizemore
Blake
Choo
Marte
Peralta
Inglett
Garko
Martinez
Hafner

And against left-handed pitching the probable starters would be:

Sizemore
Blake
Michaels
Marte
Peralta
Luna
Garko
Martinez
Hafner

The only scenario in which I could see Shoppach earning a regular starting job would be if he proved himself more capable of hitting right-handed pitching than Garko, in which case Martinez would start at first and Shoppach would catch. But I don’t see this happening and I imagine that Shoppach will play only once or twice a week, usually against lefties but not necessarily. Since I am concered primarily with starters (and minimal effort on my part) I’m not including Shoppach in what follows.

Since Wedge has already proven himself a fan of platooning the lineup in the broadest sense–using multiple platoons at a number of positions with regularity–I’ll once again suggest he follow his urge to platoon to its natural end: platoon the batting order.

So against right-handed starting pitchers here is the lineup Wedge should pencil in for the opening series next April (based on 2006).

Martinez
Hafner
Choo/Garko
Sizemore
Choo/Garko
Marte
Inglett
Blake
Peralta

This lineup will average of 6.296 runs per game. Against right-handed pitching this season the Indians have averaged 5.566 runs per game.

Against left-handed starting pitchers Wedge should use this lineup:

Garko
Hafner
Martinez
Blake
Michaels
Sizemore
Peralta
Marte
Luna

This lineup will average of 5.784 runs per game. Against left-handed pitching this season the Indians have averaged 5.24 runs per game.

The differences in runs per game might seem marginal, so what do these differences in runs per game mean over the course of a season?

If the Indians see left- and right-handed pitching next season at the same rate as this season (roughly 35% lefties, 65% righties) and if the Indians always have their optimal lineup in the game, then the team would score approximately 115 more runs and win about 11.5 more games. Of course, the handedness of the pitcher could switch during the game while the lineup cannot be fully altered, so there would be a decline in production. The Indians would score fewer runs and win fewer games. I don’t have the time at the moment to precisely estimate what that decline would be, but my guess is that instead of scoring 115 more runs and winning 11.5 more games the Indians would score only 80 more runs and win only eight more games.

How big of a difference eight games is, of course, is relative. If the Mets won eight more games than expected this season it would hardly matter. If the Rockies won eight more games than expected they might contend for their division rather than occupy the cellar. Eight more games for the Indians would not matter much this season–the fans might feel better but the team would not be in the playoffs. But leaving games on the table because you follow, by rote, some long-held rules about how to construct a lineup is not only dogmatic but also bewildering and easily correctable. All managers, as far as I can tell, do this. I hope Eric Wedge breaks free (assuming he’s still around next season) and guides the team to an unexpected increase in wins in 2007.

Posted in Cleveland Indians, statistics | Leave a Comment »

 
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