Saturday, December 18, 2010

Everybody Line Up

It’s come up quite a bit lately thanks to all the Red Sox new additions. Where will everybody bat in the order? How should they be set up to provide the most runs? It’s a good question.
Of course, we all know how to set up a line-up. We’ve known it since Little League. It’s a very simple formula. Your fastest guy bats first. That way he can get on base, run around like crazy, and score when the other guys drive him in. The second guy isn’t quite as fast as the first guy, but makes good contact. That makes it possible to hit and run with the first guy. The third and fourth guys are your studs. The plan being, the first three guys get on base in the first inning, leaving the fourth batter to clean up the bases with a grand slam. The rest of the team goes in the 5-9 spots, going from better to worse. That’s pretty straightforward. But, like most everything else in baseball, actual stats are making a mess out of things.

I remember around 2001, when Chuck Knoblauch was leading off for the Yankees. He gave an interview saying that the goal of every leadoff hitter was a .400 OBP. His job was to get on base at least 40% of the time so everyone else could drive him in. I thought it interesting, since he did not have a .400 OBP, but was generally considered a pretty good lead off hitter. It made me wonder about the Red Sox line-up. At that time, Manny Ramirez had a .400 OBP. He always does. Did that mean he should lead off? The stat guys would probably tell you that, yes, he should. After all, the first batter in the line-up over the course of the year would have the most plate appearances. Why wouldn’t you want your best hitter at the plate more than anyone else? That certainly makes sense to me. I had the same thoughts when I mentioned on another blog that I wasn’t sure Ichiro was a Hall-of-Famer. The response I got was that he was a prototypical leadoff hitter. Did that make him the best player? Or the best player who fit the general idea people had of a leadoff hitter? Say you had a line-up that had nine Manny Ramirez clones. Would anyone actually think they should trade one for a faster leadoff type hitter to bat first? So, really, the standard line-up that we all know in our heads is built out of necessity. A team can’t have nine Manny Ramirez clones. For one thing, the number of passed balls would be incredible. But, it’s just not practical. So, teams are made up of players with different skill sets. The manager needs to use those skill sets to make the best combination. But, at the all-star game, they don’t select Juan Pierre in order to have the fast guy bat first.

There are also the non-stat intangibles that may come into play. If Dustin Pedroia is batting behind Ellsbury, he should take a strike or two to allow Ellsbury to run. Is Pedey comfortable hitting with two strikes? Will Pedey see more fastballs as pitchers try to prevent Ellsbury from stealing? Does the idea of “protection” really exist? How important is a lefty-righty progression if it only comes into play in the later innings. Do any of those things actually matter?

So, when it comes to the Red Sox line-up we have some decisions to make. I can probably get behind the idea of hitting the best hitter first. If Adrian Gonzalez, or Kevin Youkilis is going to get on base the most, and do the most damage when he’s up there, why not hit him the most? Well, my only argument is that they’re slow. I just can’t see having them stuck in front of the speedsters. So, I have to put the guys who can fly first. And, yes, I know that only matters in the first inning. After that, they’ll be batting behind the number nine guy. But, that’s still 162 times a year that they will have a clear path to run. That a pretty good percentage of their plate appearances. So, I put Ellsbury and Crawford as my 1-2. Now I have the three best hitters on the team in Youkilis, Pedroia, and Gonzalez. It’s probably irrelevant which order they go in. I’m putting Pedroia third, simply because I can’t get myself to put him in a power spot. It’s silly, but it’s the way it is. Since it’s almost a toss-up between Youkilis and Gonzalez, I’ll go with the lefty-righty thing. So, Gonzalez, then Youkilis. I’ll follow Youkilis with the lefty Ortiz. From there, I think Drew’s better than Scutaro, so I’ll stick him seventh with Scutaro eighth. That leaves Saltalamacchia in the last spot. This one is still true from Little League. Get your worst hitter the fewest at-bats. I know there’s been some movement lately to use the ninth spot as a “second leadoff”. I see the point if you’re talking about hitting a pitcher eighth instead of ninth. But, Scutaro-Satly isn’t that drastic of a difference. So, I’ll go conventional. So, there we have it. Tito can feel free to simply copy it down from here. Ellsbury-Crawford-Pedroia-Gonzalez-Youkilis-Ortiz-Drew-Scutaro-Salty.

Look out American League.


  1. Ellsbury

    I just can't see Crawford at the top of the lineup. Everyone of those other guys is a batter hitter than he is. All he has is speed. I might consider him 2nd and moveing Pedroia to 7th though.

  2. Adam_The_Yankee_FanDecember 20, 2010 at 2:35 PM


    That is what I think that lineup will be.

  3. No way the Sox paid all that money for the #8 hitter. He'll be #2 or #3.

  4. I just can't put a guy that has never hit 20 HR before at number 3. I could see him batting #2 but Tito likes Pedroia to much to move him down the lineup.

  5. Adam, you should get your facts straight about Crawford. Saying all the other hitters are better than him is rediculous. He hits over .300 every year. He'll be in the top three. You didn't get him to run around in left field because their is no outfield.
    P.S. I hate the Red Sox


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