1997 v. 2003: Optimizing the Marlins Lineup

We have completed the position player portion of the 1997 v. 2003 Florida Marlins All-World Series team. Before we move into the pitching part of the team, I wanted to optimize the Marlins lineup. This should be fun to look at.

 

Aug 28, 2009; Miami, FL, USA; A Florida Marlins logo is seen near the on deck circle before a game between the San Diego Padres and the Florida Marlins at Land Shark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

In order to do this, I am using this site to help guide me on how to optimize the Marlins lineup. We will get started now. First, here is a look at the team:

We will now get started on optimzing the Marlins all-world series lineup. Here is what the Book calls for as a lead off hitter:

Lead-Off

The old-school book says to put a speedy guy up top.  Power isn’t important, and OBP is nice, but comes second to speed.

The Book says OBP is king.  The lead-off hitter comes to bat only 36% of the time with a runner on base, versus 44% of the time for the next lowest spot in the lineup, so why waste homeruns?  The lead-off hitter also comes to the plate the most times per game, so why give away outs?  As for speed, stealing bases is most valuable in front of singles hitters, and since the top of the order is going to be full of power hitters, they’re not as important.  The lead-off hitter is one of the best three hitters on the team, the guy without homerun power.  Speed is nice, as this batter will have plenty of chances to run the bases with good hitters behind him.

According to this, Luis Castillo would be the Marlins ideal lead-off hitter. Luis Castillo in the 2003 season posted an OBP of .381. Only Gary Sheffield on the 1997 team beat that. However, due to his power, Sheffield is a much better option to be placed further down in the lineup.

There will be a lot of debate on this one, as most Marlins fans feel that Juan Pierre is the best fit with his speed as the lead-off hitter.

For the number two hole, this is what the book says:

The Two Hole

The old-school book says to put a bat-control guy here.  Not a great hitter, but someone who can move the lead-off hitter over for one of the next two hitters to drive in.

The Books says the #2 hitter comes to bat in situations about as important as the #3 hitter, but more often.  That means the #2 hitter should be better than the #3 guy, and one of the best three hitters overall.  And since he bats with the bases empty more often than the hitters behind him, he should be a high-OBP player.  Doesn’t sound like someone who should be sacrificing, does it?

Under the old-school book, this would have been a perfect fit for Juan Pierre. The Book however disagrees. The Marlins would need to be able to send out one of their top hitters. This should also be a guy that can create some offense by himself. I have two candidates for this spot, Derrick Lee and Ivan Rodriguez. Personally, I am leaning towards batting Lee here. This is another that I know will be highly questioned, but it makes the most sense because Lee is able to get on base due to a better walk rate.

Moving down to the third spot:

The Third Spot

The old-school book says to put your best high-average hitter here.  The lead-off hitter should already be in scoring position and a hit drives him in.  Wham, bam, thank you ma’am.

The Book says the #3 hitter comes to the plate with, on average, fewer runners on base than the #4 or #5 hitters.  So why focus on putting a guy who can knock in runs in the #3 spot, when the two spots after him can benefit from it more?  Surprisingly, because he comes to bat so often with two outs and no runners on base, the #3 hitter isn’t nearly as important as we think.  This is a spot to fill after more important spots are taken care of.

I am in complete agreement with the Book. We will come back and fill the third spot after we figure out the more important spots in the lineup. Some candidates to keep in mind though, are Gary Sheffield, Juan Pierre, Ivan Rodriguez, and Miguel Cabrera.

 

Next we will take a look at the cleanup hitter.

Cleanup

The old-school book says to put your big power bat here, probably a guy with a low batting average, who will hit the big multi-run homeruns.

The Book says the #4 hitter comes to bat in the most important situations out of all nine spots, but is equal in importance to the #2 hole once you consider the #2 guy receives more plate appearances.  The cleanup hitter is the best hitter on the team with power.

This is the most obvious lineup spot to fill. The Marlins best power hitter in either World Series run was the 2003 version of Mike Lowell. Gary Sheffield would be another candidate, only his 1997 season was not as impressive as his overall career power numbers. Lowell posted an ISO of .254, while slugging out 31 homers.

Next up, the number 5 hole:

The Number Five Guy

The old-school book says the number five guy is a wannabe cleanup hitter.

The Book says the #5 guy can provide more value than the #3 guy with singles, doubles, triples, and walks, and avoiding outs, although the #3 guy holds an advantage with homeruns.  After positions #1, #2, and #4 are filled, put your next best hitter here, unless he lives and dies with the long ball.

This comes down to two players for me Gary Sheffield or Ivan Rodriguez. Which ever player is batting not batting fifth would be in the three hole. Taking a look at each players numbers, I would have to say that Sheffield would be the ideal number 5 hitter. Sheffield has a better ability to take walks then Rodriguez. Sheff’s power is more ideal for the number 3 hole, but he is also a better overall hitter then Pudge.

This is the lineup we have thus far:

  1. Luis Castillo
  2. Derrick Lee
  3. Ivan Rodriguez
  4. Mike Lowell
  5. Gary Sheffield

For the number 6 through 9 hitters, this is what the book has to say:

Spots Six Through Nine

The old-school book says the rest of the lineup should be written in based on decreasing talent.  Hitting ninth is an insult.

The Book basically agrees, with a caveat.  Stolen bases are most valuable ahead of high-contact singles hitters, who are more likely to hit at the bottom of the lineup.  So a base-stealing threat who doesn’t deserve a spot higher in the lineup is optimized in the #6 hole, followed by the singles hitters.

Going by the book, I am going to award the number 6 spot to Juan Pierre. Pierre in 2003 was a better hitter then Cabrera and also is a stolen base threat.

Number 7 would be Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera was only 20 years old at the time of the Marlins World Series and is not the same hitter that we love now. If this was based on his numbers now, he would be a lot higher up in the lineup.

Finally, the number 8 spot belongs to Edgar Renteria. Renteria is about an average hitter. He does not walk much, but made decent contact. Renteria in 1997 was also a high stolen base guy. He is perfect to hit in front of the pitcher as he can create more ideal sacrifice situations for the pitcher.

The number 9 hole would go to the pitcher. The Marlins are an NL team, so there is no use for a DH in all their lineups. However, since this is an All-World Series team, a DH would be necessary to be used in an AL Park. Jeff Conine was the perfect candidate for this role.

Here is how the lineup for your All Marlins World Series team shapes out to be:

  1. Luis Castillo
  2. Derrick Lee
  3. Ivan Rodriguez
  4. Mike Lowell
  5. Gary Sheffield
  6. Juan Pierre
  7. Miguel Cabrera
  8. Edgar Renteria
  9. Pitcher/Jeff Conine

Overall, that is a very impressive lineup. As we all know, how a lineup is put together is not a big deal at all. If you have a lineup with these kinds of bats, you do not have to worry much, as the production will happen no matter what.

What do you guys think about the Marlins optimized lineup? How would your lineup look?

 

 

Topics: Derrick Lee, Edgar Renteria, Gary Sheffield, Ivan Rodriguez, Jeff Conine, Juan Pierre, Luis Castillo, Miami Marlins, Miguel Cabrera, Mike Lowell

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