Sunday, August 03, 2008

Weekly Cleveland Indians Lineup Analysis

Once again, this is the weekly series where I plan 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.

This Week's Ideal Lineup

Changes From Last Week
The players remain the same, but other than Grady Sizemore hitting second, the order is entirely different.

Theoretical Runs Per Game
5.311, up 4.964, up 0.347 runs from last week. This lineup has the same players as last week's, which essentially means they had a good week at the plate.

Theoretical Improvement
The Indians are currently scoring 4.670 runs per game. That's an improvement of 0.641 runs per game, which in turn leads to 104 runs over the course of the season, or 10 more wins. Of course, this team isn't playing anywhere near their pythagorean expectations, so who knows how well they'd do.

Defensive Plausibility
As with last week, Sal Fasano would have to be your everyday third baseman.

Fan Believability
I'm sure Nino over at Bleacher Report would get a laugh out of Mighty Sal Fasano leading off and playing third, but I don't think anyone else would buy this lineup.

My Take
I'm actually surprised how this lineup turned out. The second spot is your best overall hitter, and Sizemore remains there. But cleanup is your big slugger and the five spot is your second best overall hitter. So I was expecting to see Jhonny Peralta fourth and Kelly Shoppach (now second on the team in OPS) fifth.

Random Indians Thought of the Week
If you look at offense alone, it's hard to justify moving Jhonny Peralta to third base. Peralta is currently first among AL shortstops in OPS. But if Peralta was a third baseman, his OPS would be league-average at best at that position. Presumably, it would be much easier to keep Peralta at short and go get a league-average third baseman than move Peralta to third and go get an above-average shortstop.

A similar thing happens when you consider Victor Martinez. Martinez' career 0.833 OPS would be second in the AL this year among catchers. But among AL first basemen, he'd be about average. Meanwhile, Kelly Shoppach and Ryan Garko's career OPSs are bad for first basemen but above-average for catchers. Since their OPSs are similar (assuming Shoppach regresses and Garko progresses next season), they are virtually interchangeable in the lineup. Assuming Martinez and Garko's first base defense is also interchangeable, that leaves the Tribe with two options: keep Martinez at catcher and get a league-average first baseman to improve their offense, or move Martinez to first and make Shoppach the everyday catcher to improve team defense.