The Disappointment Zone

Musings from a Cleveland sports fan

Platooning the lineup works

Posted by disappointmentzone on 2 May 2007

In last night’s Indians game the team faced RHP AJ Burnett. The Indians lineup went L, L, L, S, L, R, R, R, R. The first time through the order the Indians had some problems, but the next two times through the order the Indians scored seven runs and 9 of the next 18 batters reached safely. The seven runs came on two homers and a double. The first homer was by Dellucci (L) with Nixon (L) on base. The second homer was by Peralta (R) with Martinez (S) and Nixon (L) on base. Peralta hit the double as well, with Nixon and Garko (R) on base.

In other words, the guys who you would expect to have a greater chance of getting on base did, thus setting up the possibilities for big plays for the subsequent batters. Fortunately, tonight the subsequent batters got their hits.

Though the Indians have had problems with RISP this season, they haven’t had problems getting runners on base. Batting with runners in scoring position will eventually average out, as all of the run scoring last night attests. But getting multiple runners on base consistently is more difficult. So far this season the Indians have demonstrated an ability to do this exceptionally well.  Part of this must be attributed to the lineups Wedge has been using. Statistically it just makes sense.

The four-run third inning last night was reminiscent of the first game of the season against Chicago, when the Indians quickly jumped out against Jose Contreras. In that game Wedge had the same sort of platooned lineup. I was listening to the radio broadcast of that game here in Chicago. Steve Stone was doing the analysis. When a right-handed batter finally came to the plate in the first inning, Stone expressed relief for Contreras, who finally had a pitching match-up in his favor. Until then all of the pressure was on Contreras and as each Indians batter reached base safely the pressure on Contreras built. If memory serves the first three batters in that game (Sizemore, Nixon, Hafner), in their first three at bats, all reached base safely. The first three batters batted in each of the first three innings. The Indians scored five, four, and two runs in those innings.

Getting multiple players to the plate without recording outs is how you score runs. You do this by structuring your lineup so that you aren’t putting players less likely to reach base between players more likely to reach base (which is what happens in the L, R, L, R, L, R, L, R, L lineups). And you do this by platooning your lineup. It is nice to see Wedge break away from the idiotic practice of alternating handedness in his lineups.

I believe this is the first time I have complimented Wedge in this space. It really is a new year.

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