Fredi doesn’t write the best lineup card
By Michael Jong
"Anyway, here is an odd lineup to say the least. What possesses a manager to make an order like this? Any ideas? The current batting averages gives you a clue I think as to why the manager has this order. If that is the case, that is one of the more egregious misuses of BA and batting order you will find. I don’t know much about the FLO manager, but this suggests that he doesn’t have a clue (as to how to determine which players have what value going forward).Florida MarlinsPlayer AVG HR RBIC COGHLAN LF .293 9 36W HELMS 3B .274 2 26H RAMIREZ SS .364 19 85J CANTU 1B .276 13 71J BAKER C .268 8 39D UGGLA 2B .242 23 67C ROSS CF .269 20 69J HERMIDA RF .267 13 47C VOLSTAD -R P .133 0 3"
I haven’t yet spoken about Fredi’s poor lineup card writing, but I’ve long disapproved of it, and MGL’s piece gave me as good a reason as any to write up something about it. From the start, it was obvious Fredi was clinging to the cliche ideas about the lineup. He wanted a fast player at the leadoff spot, so he placed Emilio Bonifacio there even though Bonifacio couldn’t get on base close to consistently, especially for a leadoff man.
(Note: This reminded of the time Rich Waltz mentioned Bonifacio’s inability to walk on air. Some pitcher that I can’t recall was really wild that evening and walked Bonifacio on four pitches. Waltz then said, “And now [pitcher] just walked someone that’s almost impossible to walk.” I’m glad he recognizes that too.)
Fredi has also shown a preference to placing either Bonifacio or a veteran like one of the “gritty ones” at the #2 spot, where he presumably wants somebody who can move runners over with contact. Unfortunately, either of the gritty ones, between Ross Gload and Wes Helms would easily be the worst hitter on the team (other than Bonifacio) if they were in the lineup, so batting them in the two slot would be a mistake. The other egregious error Fredi often makes is batting Dan Uggla and Cody Ross, two of the team’s best hitters, near the bottom of the order at #6 and #7 respectively. Uggla is particularly a bad choice that low because of his ability to get on base, which would be most beneficial higher in the order.
MGL posts this lineup without any optimization, then runs a simulation of both his lineup and Fredi’s against a slightly below average RHP.
"C COGHLAN LF .293 9 36D UGGLA 2B .242 23 67H RAMIREZ SS .364 19 85J CANTU 1B .276 13 71J HERMIDA RF .267 13 47C ROSS CF .269 20 69W HELMS 3B .274 2 26J BAKER C .268 8 39"
The difference between Fredi’s lineup and his lineup was 4.789 and 4.872 runs per game, a difference of 13 runs per season based on his simulator’s projections of each player. The lineup he proposes is much better than Fredi’s, and it’s very close to the lineup most of us would prefer to see. However, I believe MGL’s projections are not updated to include this season’s data, so there should be some differences in how we write up our lineup today. In addition, MGL did not optimize it to squeeze a few extra runs using The Book’s suggestions; rather, he just put the best hitters at the top of the lineup.
Using the keys to lineup optimization outlined in The Book (Tango, Lichtman, Dolphin, 2007) and ZiPS updated projections for the season, I tried optimizing the team’s lineup. Here’s the main suggestion by The Book:
"The Book says:Your three best hitters should bat somewhere in the #1, #2, and #4 slots. Your fourth- and fifth-best hitters should occupy the #3 and #5 slots. The #1 and #2 slots will have players with more walks than those in the #4 and #5 slots. From slot #6 through #9, put the players in descending order of quality."
The explanations for this reasoning are derived from the linear weights runs values of each batting event at each slot. Check out The Book or ask the authors for more on the explanation. Following that and some other advice regarding double play opportunities and their propensity at the third slot, I reordered the lineup in this fashion.
"1) Coghlan2) Uggla3) Hermdia4) Ramirez5) Ross6) Cantu7) Baker8 ) Helms9) Pitcher"
We could also move the pitcher up to eighth for a potential gain of two or three runs on the season. MGL was gracious enough to simulate this lineup for me and got 4.910 runs per game, a difference of 18 runs between mine and Fredi’s lineup. Am I a better manager then Fredi? I’ll leave that for you to decide.
Would you guys prefer to see this lineup or Fredi’s? What’s the lineup you think would best optimize our players?
H/T MGL, for being so gracious as to help out, and for a mention of the Marlins, even if it was to point out Fredi’s bad management