Sunday, June 29, 2008

Weekly Indians Lineup Analysis

I've decided to start a new weekly column for the rest of the year. Every Sunday (I hope), I'll take the top 9 Indians in terms of OPS and feed them into Dave Pinto's Lineup Analysis Tool to determine the theoretical ideal batting lineup. In an attempt to be realistic, I'll only include players on the active roster (not injured or in the minors), and only those with 10+ plate appearances (sorry, CC and Sal Fasano).

This Week's Results
Click here for full results.

This Week's Ideal Lineup

Theoretical Runs Per Game

Theoretical Improvement
The Indians are currently scoring 4.395 runs per game, meaning this would be an improvement of 0.768 runs per game. That in turn translates to 124 additional runs in a year, or 12.4 wins.

Defensive Plausibility
You can't just march out the top 9 hitters on your team every day; someone has to man each defensive position. For instance, earlier in the year, the Indians ideal lineup would have included Victor Martinez, Kelly Shoppach, Ryan Garko, and Travis Hafner, meaning one of those guys would have had to have played third base or right field.
However, this week's lineup is entirely plausible. All four infield positions plus catcher are covered, plus the remaining four outfielders can split time in the field or DH. In fact, this is the exact same starting 9 Eric Wedge has sent out for the last few games.

Fan Believability
If Eric Wedge put together this batting order, would the fans call for his head? For example, earlier in the year, Travis Hafner had a high on base percentage but a low slugging percentage, and the ideal lineup had him hitting leadoff. No one would have gone for that realistically.
However, this week's lineup has a very high believability/acceptability factor. Fans would have no trouble seeing Ben Francisco hit cleanup, and Garko, Blake, and Peralta area already hitting in the middle of the order. Some fans may not like Grady Sizemore dropping out of the leadoff spot, but there are just as many people who want to see him dropped down in the order so he can drive in runs.

My Take
I really like this lineup. Sabermetrically, the #2 guy is supposed to be your best all-around hitter. That's what Grady is. Shin-Soo Choo may not be a speed demon, but he has been getting on base. As has Jamie Carroll, which is what you want out of the #9 spot. Francisco may not have big power, but he's passable. The #5 spot is supposed to be your second best all-around hitter. You may not think of Casey Blake as that guy, but the way he's been hitting - and the way everyone else has been hitting - he fits the bill.

Random Indians Thought of the Week
Is it by design or bad coincidence that Aaron Laffey keeps pitching day games and other games where most of the regulars are resting. The young pitcher needs run support, and he's not going to get it with the bench players in. That can't be good on his confidence, and that's a shame because he's pitched relatively well to date.