Write Derek at drksmart @ gmail.com
Write Phil at phil.bencomo @ gmail.com
Guest Column: Lineup Ideas
by alex ciepley
Loyal TCR Reader Scott de Brestian has taken a great in-depth look at the Cubs' lineup. He was kind enough to pass along his thoughts and I'm posting them up here for your reading pleasure. Discuss his ideas and observations in the comments!
Recently, Eric Van posted a very interesting analysis of the Red Sox hitters on the Sons of Sam Horn discussion board in the aftermath of the Big Trade (See the Massive Batting Order Analysis thread). Since Dusty has tried about 1,325 different lineups this season, and has said that the Nomar trade brought to mind about 15 more, I decided to shamelessly plagiarize his techniques to look at the Cubs. Using Eric Vanís sabermetric tools, I will try and construct the ideal Cubs lineup. Any mathematical or interpretive errors are, of course, my own.
First thing Eric Van does is look at everybodyís RC/27 (Thatís Runs Created per 27 outs for those who may be wondering). Eric corrects for park effects but that is a bit beyond my skills. I don't think the results would change that much. I give the results for the last four years for the Cubs and two averages. One is simply the average of the last four years, the second is a three-year weighted average (3*2004+2*2003+1*2001)/6. This tells us who the best and worst hitters are. Eric also focuses on RHP but I didnít bother with splits.
Nobody really stands out here - but we've known all along that the Cubs lack a real leadoff man. What this does tell us is that there isn't a lot of difference between batting Grudzielanek and Walker at the top of the order. Also, Patterson may be the worst choice of the everyday players who aren't catchers. Better hope he can alter his approach at the plate.
Now, letís look at the table-setters using Eric Vanís T-stat (Effective OBP-HR). These are guys who get on base and advance runners, but are not the power guys. Like Eric, I have measured this relative to league average. Above 1.00 means you are better than average, below 1.00 that you are worse.
You can see how dependent the Cubs are on the home run by how few of their players are above average (check the Red Sox figures for comparison). Itís not surprising to see Nomar and Lee near the top, but Grudzielanek and Martinez are a bit unexpected.
Finally, we see who is best at knocking in the runners. The formula here is pretty complicated: (H+ .75* 2B + 1.23 * (3B + HR))/Outs Made. In short, if you hit lots of doubles and homers you do well here. Again, this is relative to league average.
Surprisingly, Sosa is not at the top of the list, although if you look at the year-by-year stats itís pretty obvious that he is usually the best choice for emptying the bases. The Cubs as a whole do pretty well in this category.
Here is a summary of how each player ranks in these four categories: