Thursday, June 5, 2008

Should speed guys lead off?

I saw the Yankees and Twins game on ESPN. I'm curious to see if manager Ron Gardenhire uses his players effectively. The twins are three games above .500 and in second place in the AL Central. Three of those teams are below .500, and the leading Chicago White Sox are only 1.5 games in front. It is conceivable that the Twins could be in first place.

The lineup for Sunday night's game:

1. Carlos Gomez
2. Alexi Casilla
3. Joe Mauer
4. Justin Moreneau
5. Michael Cuddyer
6. Craig Monroe
7. Delmon Young
8. Brendan Harris
9. Matt Macri

The lineup order is only important for the first inning because after the first inning, the order becomes all crazy. But it is important to have the best hitters in the top 4 because they will see more at bats.

The best OPS hitters should hit 3 and 4. The best at 3 and second best at 4. After that, the highest OBP hitters should hit 1 and 2. Then your fifth and sixth best hitters should bat there and then 7-9 it doesn't matter much.

The common thought, it seems, is to have the speed guys bat first so if they get on base, they can steal a base or put pressure on the defense because of their speed. That's great. As long as they can get on base.

Carlos Gomez is a speed guy. Incredibly fast. Lets see if this is an effective lineup:

Carlos Gomez gets on base 30.8% of the time. That is really bad for a leadoff hitter. And even when he gets on, his steal success rate is 71% (17 steals out of 23 chances). So even his incredible speed doesn't translate great in the stolen base department. Joe Sheehan for Baseball Prospectus wrote: "If you're stealing at less than a 75% success rate, you're better off never going at all." But still, he makes an out 69.2% of the time, and when he gets on base, he makes an out 29% of the time when trying to steal.

The batting lineup should be:

1. Alexi Casilla
He gets on base 38.7% of the time. He also has a .864 ops. Limited games, only 19, but he's been effective in those games.
2. Joe Mauer
He's actually the second best OPS guy on the team of regulars, so he should bat fourth. However, his high OPS is largely in part to his .413 on base percentage.
3. Justin Moreneau
He's the highest OPS guy on the team with a .886 ops.
4. Craig Monroe
He's the third highest OPS regular guy on the team. His on base percentage is a horrible .294 on base percentage. Though he slugs at a .455 rate.
5. Carlos Gomez OPS+ 97 SLG .401
6. Delmon Young OPS+86
7. Michael Cuddyer OPS+ 85
8. Brendan Harris OPS+ 82
9. Matt Macri
He does have absurd numbers, but he has 3 at bats on the season, so who knows what he has?

Their 6th hitter has a OPS+ of 86 this year. That's horrendous. That is below the average player. That is David Eckstein production. In fact, their 5 through 8 hitters are below average hitters.

So even though I disagree with Gardenhire on his lineup a little, it's not like his GM gave him a great players to put in a lineup. Craig Monroe, their fourth best player, has an OPS+ of 108. The Twins are 29-27 this year. I suspect it's a result of their young pitching stepping up.

Kevin Slowey has one complete game, an ERA+ of 105 and a WHIP of 1.057.
Nick Blackburn has an ERA+ of 118 and a WHIP of 1.382

Livan Hernandez, Glen Perkins, and Boof Bonser are below average starters. I expect the Twins to slip in the standings. Carlos Gomez should not be batting lead-off. Though in this lineup, he should be batting 5th.

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