Thursday, July 23, 2009

Weekly Cleveland Indians Lineup Analysis

Well, it hasn't exactly been weekly this season, but let's hope it is from here on out. To recap, we 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 Results
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This Week's Ideal Lineup

Theoretical Runs Per Game

Theoretical Improvement
The Indians are currently scoring 4.938 runs per game, which isn't too bad in its own right. The ideal lineup is an improvement of 0.360 runs per game, or 58 runs over the course of a season. That may not seem like much, but using the old sabermetric standby that 10 runs = 1 win, that's another 5-6 victories for the Tribe. Of course, they'd still be 7 games back in the division.

Defensive Plausibility
Well, it's pretty much the same nine guys Cleveland trots out for every other game, so there are no problems here.

Fan Believability
It's hard to argue batting Hafner, Garko, Francisco, Peralta, and Carroll where they are. Choo's pretty realistic too, since he gets on base and runs relatively well (for this team). But even in the midsts of a down season, fans would riot at Grady Sizemore hitting sixth. In addition, no coach on the hot seat would bat Victor Martinez second but Asdrubal Cabrera third.

My Take
It's been a while since I've done a lineup analysis. So I'm happy how this turned out, because it gives me another chance to demonstrate how the lineup tool "envisions" each spot in the batting order. As with a traditional lineup, the best on-base guy bats leadoff and the biggest masher hits cleanup. Shin-Soo Choo leads the team in on base percentage, while Travis Hafner leads the team in slugging.

The number two hitter is supposed to be your best all-around hitter - good in both OBP and SLG, but one isn't drastically higher than the other. Check that one off with Victor Martinez. The number five guy is your second-best all-around hitter. To Nino's delight, I'm sure, that's Ryan Garko.

What's interesting is the number three spot. Contrary to popular thought, this model normally puts a bad hitter there, just for lack of a better spot, and with the intent to space out the out-makers. But Asdrubal Cabrera is fifth on the team in OPS, so I'm not sure why he was placed there.

Your number nine guy isn't necessarily a good hitter, but it should be someone who can get on base. That's Jamey Carroll in a nutshell. The rest of the lineup, spots six through eight, are whoever's left in descending order of ability.

Random Indians Thought of the Week
This week I have two thoughts, and they're not so random because they still pertain to this lineup analysis.

It's a small sample of only 20 at bats, but Josh Barfield is actually third on the team in OPS this year. I'll leave a lineup analysis that includes him as an exercise for the reader.

Also, coming into Thursday's game against the Blue Jays, Chris Gimenez had a higher OPS than Jhonny Peralta on the year, meaning I would have used Gimenez instead of Peralta in this week's analysis. Interestingly, both Barfield and Gimenez could replace Peralta at third to keep the lineup defensively plausible.

As it stands, Peralta, Gimenez, and Kelly Shoppach are all in a very close race for the ninth-best OPS on the team. In a year like this, I'm actually curious to see how Shoppach would fare at the hot corner.