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Luxury Box Season Ticket Holder

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RE: Optimizing Lineups - Revisited
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I recall being so frustrated with my SOM team's offense many years ago in a C&D league that I decided to shuffle (literally) the line-up. I think my pitcher was batting clean-up. I won. Go figure. I recall hearing about a manager in real life doing this at one point. But I don't recall who that was and/or whether it worked.

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boomer wrote:

I recall being so frustrated with my SOM team's offense many years ago in a C&D league that I decided to shuffle (literally) the line-up. I think my pitcher was batting clean-up. I won. Go figure. I recall hearing about a manager in real life doing this at one point. But I don't recall who that was and/or whether it worked.


Managers have been known to pick lineups out of a hat, in order to shake a slump.

Here's one classic example:

http://www.hardballtimes.com/tht-live/40th-anniversary-billy-martin-picks-batting-order-out-of-hat/

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/30/sports/baseball/in-baseball-lineups-vary-hold-firm-or-come-out-of-a-hat.html

http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/page/Mag15betweenthelines/lineup-cards-tell-best-stories-baseball-espn-magazine-archives

(Side note to the final link: Through dumb luck, I have one of Jerry Narron's lineup cards.  They are magnificent.  I'll post a pic in my collectables thread one of these days.)



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boomer wrote:

I recall being so frustrated with my SOM team's offense many years ago in a C&D league that I decided to shuffle (literally) the line-up. I think my pitcher was batting clean-up. I won. Go figure. I recall hearing about a manager in real life doing this at one point. But I don't recall who that was and/or whether it worked.


There is the argument that lineups don't matter. 

But the reverse OBP (where you put the player with the lowest OBP first, second lowest second, etc.) has consistently been shown to under-perform.  If you then factor in the chart Grey Eagle produced about the various batting positions, it leads me to conclude that lineups do matter.  The question is how meaningful are they?  How much of a difference do they make?  How complicated would it be to use them?  How realistic are they due to the number of variables that must be controlled for a valid result?

It may be that any reasonable lineup will generate a near optimal result and the difference is just too marginal to be meaningful.  I think from exploring a discussion such as this you gain valuable insight about creating a strategy which may give you an advantage.

SR2 asked for our formulas for setting lineups.  I published mine on the site a while ago, but I will republish it here:

  1. Select #3 batter first. Player with highest OPS.  (To me, this is the most important hitter as he needs to be able to get on base while driving in runs.)
  2. Select #4 batter second. Remaining player with Highest Slg.  (I am looking for a homerun hitter here, not a doubles or triples guy.  Still, you might be better served by having your second best OPS player here.)
  3. Select #1 batter. From the remaining players, compare the two batters with the highest OBP (assuming they are within 15 points of each other), and select the faster runner/better base stealer.
  4. Select #5 batter. Remaining player with highest OPS.  (If in step 2 you decided to use your second  best OPS, then here you would want to use the remaining player with the Highest slugging).
  5. Select #2 batter.From the remaining players, compare the two batters with the highest OBP (assuming they are within 15 points of each other), and select the one that grounds into the fewest double plays per plate appearance.
  6. Select #9 batter. Remaining player with lowest OBP.(Assume pitcher)
  7. Select #6 batter. Remaining player with highest slugging percentage.
  8. Select #8 batter. Remaining player with highest OBP.
  9. Select #7 batter. Remaining player.

Based on Grey Eagles table above, it might be more advisable to start with the #4 batter and assigning the player with the highest OPS.  Then moving to the #3 batter having the second highest OPS.  The #5 batter would be the remaing player with the highest SLG.  Something to think about an test.

 



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Tall Tactician wrote:

         ...

Based on Grey Eagles table above, it might be more advisable to start with the #4 batter and assigning the player with the highest OPS.  Then moving to the #3 batter having the second highest OPS.  The #5 batter would be the remaing player with the highest SLG.  Something to think about an test.


   First of all, this Tango stuff will get real confusing real fast. You really need to sit down and study this stuff to understand how Tango uses his charts to come up with his conclusions. I don't have The Book. So I actually spent a couple evenings at a local library that does. Unfortunately for me, I can't borrow from that library, so I jotted down some notes and basically had to study them, returning to the library again to try to fill in some stuff that I needed to get better understanding of. If you are not familiar with The Book and the chapter on Batting Disorder, my analysis probably will not make much sense. That being said ...

  That table is half the Book's and half mine. The AVG, OBP and SLG are nothing more than the combined stats for 1999-2002 AL batters based on batting order position. (taken from retrosheet and combined with excel). Those stats are just informational and I used them to show what type of batters existed in those spots during those 4 years. The 4th batter was the best batter on the team, but that is solely based off of RL data. I, like TT, would probably lean towards putting the best hitter 3rd. 

  And really the point of my last post was to show that there is some debatable combining of tables (based on the context for which they are used - which is optimizing the batting order) which I found "interesting". In my opinion, it appears that The Book's analysis undervalues the #3 hitter.

  I will try to explain this better (if so desired), but first you really need to undersand what The Book is doing. Unfortunately, final table (#52/Big Chart where all his batting order results are derived) should be more clearly explained along with giving some logic as to why these tables are so combined.

 



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Grey Eagle wrote:
Tall Tactician wrote:

         ...

Based on Grey Eagles table above, it might be more advisable to start with the #4 batter and assigning the player with the highest OPS.  Then moving to the #3 batter having the second highest OPS.  The #5 batter would be the remaing player with the highest SLG.  Something to think about an test.


   First of all, this Tango stuff will get real confusing real fast. You really need to sit down and study this stuff to understand how Tango uses his charts to come up with his conclusions. I don't have The Book. So I actually spent a couple evenings at a local library that does. Unfortunately for me, I can't borrow from that library, so I jotted down some notes and basically had to study them, returning to the library again to try to fill in some stuff that I needed to get better understanding of. If you are not familiar with The Book and the chapter on Batting Disorder, my analysis probably will not make much sense. That being said ...

  That table is half the Book's and half mine. The AVG, OBP and SLG are nothing more than the combined stats for 1999-2002 AL batters based on batting order position. (taken from retrosheet and combined with excel). Those stats are just informational and I used them to show what type of batters existed in those spots during those 4 years. The 4th batter was the best batter on the team, but that is solely based off of RL data. I, like TT, would probably lean towards putting the best hitter 3rd. 

  And really the point of my last post was to show that there is some debatable combining of tables (based on the context for which they are used - which is optimizing the batting order) which I found "interesting". In my opinion, it appears that The Book's analysis undervalues the #3 hitter.

  I will try to explain this better (if so desired), but first you really need to undersand what The Book is doing. Unfortunately, final table (#52/Big Chart where all his batting order results are derived) should be more clearly explained along with giving some logic as to why these tables are so combined.

 


I think you have to also consider what the chart might look like if you used the prescribed batting orders in The Book were commonly used in the MLB.

The one point that sticks out to me which was hammered away in Moneyball was that best predictor as to whether a team would score a run was if the leadoff batter got on base.  Studies show the two positions that lead of an inning the most are the #1 and the #4 position.  Just something for you to think about.

 

 



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Tall Tactician wrote:

I think you have to also consider what the chart might look like if you used the prescribed batting orders in The Book were commonly used in the MLB.

The one point that sticks out to me which was hammered away in Moneyball was that best predictor as to whether a team would score a run was if the leadoff batter got on base.  Studies show the two positions that lead of an inning the most are the #1 and the #4 position.  Just something for you to think about.


 TT, some good points. I will try to toss out some of my thoughts about your observations.

For what the chart might have looked like if The Book's recommendations were followed - First let me show a more detailed table of what the BOP looked like in the AL from 1999-2002. This is the data that The Book uses to make it's batting order charts.

99-02ABRH2B3BHRRBIBBIBBSOHBPGDPSBCSAVGOBPSLGr+bir+bi-HR
1st3829162361040119403498453847376913459694275931479589.272.341.407100839238
2nd37348583810236189829085543923562576032384833999370.274.341.409102309375
3rd3568059541027421271651555612344843056347420871771240.288.370.4881207710522
4th3488056901012021101141791656145184986513350869342166.290.374.5111225110460
5th348775153951119691451504570135992796444332948383194.273.343.467108549350
6th340454599900818851401240491834192226722350915396216.265.336.43795178277
7th333854300866817361681098455829771906424324816361223.260.324.42088587760
8th32584400184151654160840395926391836217309758373241.258.317.39679607120
9th3150538547837148918156533782388276039331712538289.249.306.36172326667

Just to make sure that we are on the same page, I assume that your question is regarding the "Big Chart/TBL 52". If you do have The Book, you can get a general idea of how things might change by looking at TBL 51 - which is just TBL 52 not adjusted for PAs. Note, trying to actually reproduce the #52 chart based upon changing the batting order can not really be done as most of the data used to create the original tables was based off RL stats, not simulations - you might possibly be able to get close, but The Book is counting Base Out States which is an unique stat, not some common one that is usually tracked. TBL 51 is labeled "Run Values by Event and Batting Order." So The Book recommends that 2 of your top 3 batters would be placed in the #1 and #2 slots. This situation is "similar" to that of the #5 batter where the best two hitters are immediately preceding. If you look at the #5 hitter in TBL 51, you will see that his Run Values (RVs) are better than any other hitter. So, I am confident that if the recommended order is used that the #3 batter RVs would be considerably higher than what is now shown in TBL 52. This was one of my points when I stated that I thought the #3 hitter was undervalued in The Book's process of prioritizing the batters.

----

For the Moneyball book point - yet another BB book that I haven't read. I would agree that getting the inning leadoff hitter on increasing the chances for scoring. The Book has tables which show the same (#50 - Run Values by Event and Base/Out State(BOS) - the Monstrosity).

The Books data seems to align with the #1 (and #4) "frequently leading things off". See table below. Though this table does not indicate actual inning leading off, it shows batting with 0 outs (runners might be on). But still if you think about it, it is almost the same concept. Either you are leading off the inning OR hitting with no outs and a runner(s) on, both would be associated with a higher probability of scoring a run that inning. But that being said, only the #1 slot really shows a big advantage in the table below.

The #3 slot is the lowest, but that can almost be expected based upon what I will coin "the first inning effect". "The first inning effect" assures that the leadoff hitter will get at least one PA with 0 outs. And it also assures that the #3 batter's chances of doing so (in his first PA of the game) are greatly reduced (unless the first two batters both get on - which statistically based on the RL data would be less than 12% of the time). After that it appears that general randomization of events will balance the 0 out situation fairly evenly. A more detailed table showing the 24 BOS given a % of times that each occurred for all BOP should have been included in The Book or at least the appendix. It is one of the blocking blocks that is used to come up with TBL 52, but unfortunately does not seem to be included (as far as I can tell).

BOPOut 0%Out 1%Out 2%
1482626
2334126
3283537
4343135
5353333
6333433
7333334
8343333
9343333
 
  

Remember this table is again based on the RL data. This table would probably again change if The Book's recommendations were followed.It would be interesting to see what would change if  the OBP was Increased for the first two batters from what is seen in the first table that I showed.



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I've always believed that once a topic of debate becomes seemingly difficult to solve or come to a somewhat universal conclusion...strip it down back to the basic fundamentals.
The batting slots, in respective order of the importance of avoiding outs are 1, 4, 2, 5, 3, 6-9. The higher in the order...the more PA"s, for that reason the 3 best hitters in terms of OPS should bat 1.4 and 2...1 should be OBP-conentric, 4 should be SLG-concentric and 2 should be the most balanced hitter. The 3-hole is least regarded for reasons I am still researching and seemingly, the greatest issue. What I've read so far is that the 3-hole hitter comes to bat, on average, with fewer runners on base than the 4th and 5th hitters.
I prefer having a guy who lives and dies by the HR in the 3-hole and the team's best slugger in terms of extra base hits in the cleanup. Then, have the team's 2nd best balanced hitter in terms of OPS in the 2-hole who hopefully also has a low GDP ratio.
The concept is to place OBP higher in the order and SLG slightly descending in the order with a good balance between those 2 values in the 2 and 5 holes.
The team's base stealing threat is best fitted in the 6 hole in front of the singles hitters who occupy the 7 and 8 holes.
The calculated run production over the course of a season, by all I've read, is minimal and equates to roughly 4 additional wins. However, 4 wins has often made the difference between a team reaching the post season and everyone else going home or going fishing.
I am midway in conducting my own study, the first half of which I posted earlier in this thread.

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Umpire

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SR,

Where are you seeing 4 additional wins?

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Nitrous Oxide wrote:

SR,

Where are you seeing 4 additional wins?


 SR,

    Also, what you propose for a lineup above is essentially what Tango's The Book recommends for optimizing in the batting (dis)order chapter, correct? 

    And The Book's recommendations are what I am questioning, because I believe there may be a few weak links in his logic/charts and how those are ultimately combined. I focused on how it devalued the #3 hitter by going back and examining what charts and RL data he used to build his #52 (or The Big Chart from the  bluebirdbanter.com article). Table #52 is where all The Book's optimized batting order conclusions are drawn. And I welcome comments on what I have offered up so far, because my logic or understanding of The Book's data could be wrong (I did make some assumptions in how #52 was generated, because The Book is not completely thorough in it's detail of that)

   I am just wondering from what sources your opinions have been drawn. It appears Tango's Book is one (and has been a basis for many other online articles), but are there others? 

    



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Found this article online at the baseballprospectus site. Tam Tango responds to a question. I found his answer very interesting and it essentially gives a summary of the major points from The Book's Batting Disorder chapter. But it also mentions some other aspects that I don't remember him stressing in that chapter. Note that this is about 5 years after the book was published.
In particular, I like that he points out that for regarding the recommended method for lineup construction ... "Those are not hard and fast rules, because you also need to consider the propensity of each batter to ground into double plays, the speed of the runners, the handedness of the batters, and so on." - Tango did go over platooning in The Book and some of the other topics. But the handness issue should have been highlighted more as TT pointed out when lamenting over those frustrating Phillie lineups.
And again from the response, I am pretty sure that The Book didn't stress this ... "The best way to set up your batting order is ... you have to have different batting lineups based on pitcher handedness" ... - most of us strat players will probably agree on that.
Finally Tango brings up reality about RL lineups for modern managers who have to ... "then tweak it based on the ego of the players." - This is something that N/O brought up earlier in these posts. At least in strat, we don't have to worry about bruising egos.

Here is an excerpt from that artcle:

www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php
May 24, 2011
Baseball ProGUESTus
Answers from a Sabermetrician, Part 1
by Tom Tango
You asked, he answered. Below are the first batch of responses to the questions BP readers submitted for sabermetrician Tom Tango. All questions are presented in their original form.

Subtopic: Batting order

jonjacoby asks:
Questions about your optimal lineup construction from "The Book": why bat your 5th best hitter 3rd instead
of your 3rd or 4th best hitter? I am assuming it's to prevent the lineup from being too top heavy? The other
is why in the AL you bat your worst hitter 9th and in the NL you bat the pithcer (your worst hitter) 8th? Is
this because of just how bad pitchers are at hitting that it becomes optimal to bat them 9th, and at what
point would the worst hitter on an AL team have to be for it to be optimal to bat them 8th and not 9th?

Tom Tango's response:
"The Book proposes that you put your top three batters somewhere in the first, second, and fourth slots, with the low-power guy in the leadoff slot and the high-power guy in the cleanup slot. It also proposes that you put your two next-best batters somewhere in the third and fifth slots, with the high-power guy in the third slot. Those are not hard and fast rules, because you also need to consider the propensity of each batter to ground into double plays, the speed of the runners, the handedness of the batters, and so on.

Now, as to the main reason the third hitter is not so highly thought of: he comes to bat a disproportionate number of times with the bases empty and two outs. When that happens, the best way to score a run is to hit a home run. I've run models where I swap the traditional number-three hitter with the traditional number-two hitter, and you end up scoring more runs by making the swap. But we're only talking about a two-run gain over the course of 162 games.

Even doing something drastically incompetent, like putting the pitcher in the cleanup slot, costs you only 0.1 runs per game.

As for why it’s better to bat pitcher eighth: it's because it's more beneficial to set up the top of the order than to give the pitcher fewer times to bat. But again, we're talking about a two-run gain over the course of 162 games.

Why is there so little gain (or at least, less than one might presume)? Because everyone eventually bats. It's like deferring your taxes: you can save only so much. If you swap your number-two and your number-six hitters, what happens? Well, that's a difference of 72 plate appearances. If your number-six hitter creates 90 runs per 700 PA and your number-two hitter creates 70 per 700 PA, the net effect is that you can gain 20 runs per 700 PA. And 20 divided by 700 times 72 is two runs.

The best way to set up your batting order is to put it in the optimal order (which means you have to have different batting lineups based on pitcher handedness), and then tweak it based on the ego of the players, because human impact is more important than leveraging two runs."


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So I like to look at what I see what is actually happening. Here are the runs leaders in the Swinging 60s and where they bat in the order (if split its lefty/righty)

------RUNS SCORED------
M.Mantle NYA      78 3rd
C.Yastrzemski BOA 77 3rd
L.Brock SLN       77 1st
R.Maris NYA       72 4th
D.Buford BAA      66 1st
Z.Versalles MNA   65 1st/5th
W.Mays SFN        64 3rd
T.Oliva MNA       60 7th/1st
O.Cepeda SLN      60 4th
T.Agee NYN        56 1st/3rd
C.Jones NYN       56 2nd/4th
M.Wills LAN       55 1st

Now the same exercise for RBIs.

-----RUNS BATTED IN----
R.Maris NYA       91 4th
O.Cepeda SLN      85 4th
W.Mays SFN        71 3rd
Z.Versalles MNA   67 1st/5th
M.Mantle NYA      64 3rd
C.Yastrzemski BOA 63 3rd
B.Powell BAA      61 4th/3rd
T.Davis LAN       61 3rd/4th
B.Skowron NYA     61 5th
L.Brock SLN       61 1st
T.Oliva MNA       60 7th/1st
W.McCovey SFN     58 4th



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Here is the breakdown by RBIs and OPS for each spot in the lineup. Strat doesn't allow me the run breakdown.

Team Batting
City            Avg  OPS    G    R  RBI 1OPS 1RBI 2OPS 2RBI  3OPS 3RBI 4OPS 4RBI 5OPS 5RBI 6OPS 6RBI 7OPS 7RBI 8OPS 8RBI 9OPS 9RBI
-------------  ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
Minnesota      .270 .740  103  479  450 .934   72 .790   60  .681   43 .777   70 .759   48 .703   52 .665   48 .751   35 .534   22
Boston         .265 .733  103  463  439 .681   38 .870   54  .932   63 .790   59 .808   70 .755   61 .652   44 .478   31 .525   19
St. Louis      .264 .707  103  457  436 .853   61 .788   44  .757   55 .894   89 .713   36 .595   49 .738   48 .449   26 .475   28
New York (AL)  .235 .698  103  449  420 .557   29 .845   53 1.022   67 .918   91 .680   70 .466   22 .702   45 .571   22 .428   21
Pittsburgh     .270 .709  103  436  414 .856   51 .689   36  .699   49 .766   67 .685   49 .644   35 .743   43 .701   57 .557   27
Baltimore      .246 .697  103  426  398 .758   38 .700   52  .848   66 .758   64 .650   54 .728   33 .621   35 .581   30 .531   26
New York (NL)  .232 .622  103  383  353 .621   23 .706   49  .664   54 .802   54 .638   43 .597   38 .541   34 .494   36 .468   22
Los Angeles    .241 .645  103  383  359 .670   23 .751   42  .729   63 .857   71 .586   32 .574   43 .540   27 .639   37 .389   21
San Francisco  .233 .652  103  356  333 .744   42 .651   36  .890   72 .871   61 .577   31 .482   21 .576   34 .526   21 .469   15
Chicago        .228 .630  103  332  308 .679   35 .622   28  .970   70 .590   44 .560   42 .580   30 .433   17 .580   24 .568   18
------------- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
Sum            .249 .684 1030 4164 3910  ---  412  ---  454   ---  602  ---  670  ---  475  ---  384  ---  375  ---  319  ---  219
Avg            .249 .684  103  416  391  ---   41  ---   45   ---   60  ---   67  ---   48  ---   38  ---   38  ---   32  ---   22


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Nitrous Oxide wrote:

SR,

Where are you seeing 4 additional wins?


 N.O., I believe it was at Optimizing Order, Part 1: How To Build The Ideal Lineup
 The entire article was an interesting read.

 



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Grey Eagle wrote:

Found this article online at the baseballprospectus site. Tam Tango responds to a question. I found his answer very interesting and it essentially gives a summary of the major points from The Book's Batting Disorder chapter. But it also mentions some other aspects that I don't remember him stressing in that chapter. Note that this is about 5 years after the book was published.
In particular, I like that he points out that for regarding the recommended method for lineup construction ... "Those are not hard and fast rules, because you also need to consider the propensity of each batter to ground into double plays, the speed of the runners, the handedness of the batters, and so on." - Tango did go over platooning in The Book and some of the other topics. But the handness issue should have been highlighted more as TT pointed out when lamenting over those frustrating Phillie lineups.
And again from the response, I am pretty sure that The Book didn't stress this ... "The best way to set up your batting order is ... you have to have different batting lineups based on pitcher handedness" ... - most of us strat players will probably agree on that.
Finally Tango brings up reality about RL lineups for modern managers who have to ... "then tweak it based on the ego of the players." - This is something that N/O brought up earlier in these posts. At least in strat, we don't have to worry about bruising egos.

Here is an excerpt from that artcle:

www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php
May 24, 2011
Baseball ProGUESTus
Answers from a Sabermetrician, Part 1
by Tom Tango
You asked, he answered. Below are the first batch of responses to the questions BP readers submitted for sabermetrician Tom Tango. All questions are presented in their original form.

Subtopic: Batting order

jonjacoby asks:
Questions about your optimal lineup construction from "The Book": why bat your 5th best hitter 3rd instead
of your 3rd or 4th best hitter? I am assuming it's to prevent the lineup from being too top heavy? The other
is why in the AL you bat your worst hitter 9th and in the NL you bat the pithcer (your worst hitter) 8th? Is
this because of just how bad pitchers are at hitting that it becomes optimal to bat them 9th, and at what
point would the worst hitter on an AL team have to be for it to be optimal to bat them 8th and not 9th?

Tom Tango's response:
"The Book proposes that you put your top three batters somewhere in the first, second, and fourth slots, with the low-power guy in the leadoff slot and the high-power guy in the cleanup slot. It also proposes that you put your two next-best batters somewhere in the third and fifth slots, with the high-power guy in the third slot. Those are not hard and fast rules, because you also need to consider the propensity of each batter to ground into double plays, the speed of the runners, the handedness of the batters, and so on.

Now, as to the main reason the third hitter is not so highly thought of: he comes to bat a disproportionate number of times with the bases empty and two outs. When that happens, the best way to score a run is to hit a home run. I've run models where I swap the traditional number-three hitter with the traditional number-two hitter, and you end up scoring more runs by making the swap. But we're only talking about a two-run gain over the course of 162 games.

Even doing something drastically incompetent, like putting the pitcher in the cleanup slot, costs you only 0.1 runs per game.

As for why it’s better to bat pitcher eighth: it's because it's more beneficial to set up the top of the order than to give the pitcher fewer times to bat. But again, we're talking about a two-run gain over the course of 162 games.

Why is there so little gain (or at least, less than one might presume)? Because everyone eventually bats. It's like deferring your taxes: you can save only so much. If you swap your number-two and your number-six hitters, what happens? Well, that's a difference of 72 plate appearances. If your number-six hitter creates 90 runs per 700 PA and your number-two hitter creates 70 per 700 PA, the net effect is that you can gain 20 runs per 700 PA. And 20 divided by 700 times 72 is two runs.

The best way to set up your batting order is to put it in the optimal order (which means you have to have different batting lineups based on pitcher handedness), and then tweak it based on the ego of the players, because human impact is more important than leveraging two runs."


 



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I'd wake up at night with the smell of the ball park in my nose, the cool of the grass on my feet...The Thrill of the Grass...Heck, I'd play for free!



Luxury Box Season Ticket Holder

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Posts: 806
Date: Mar 12, 2016
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Good find Grey Eagle, interesting article.The only part of optimization I struggle with is the 3-hole, trying hard to see the light of day with it's devaluation.


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I'd wake up at night with the smell of the ball park in my nose, the cool of the grass on my feet...The Thrill of the Grass...Heck, I'd play for free!

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