Re: The Great Split Divide
posted at 1/31/2013 7:04 PM EST
In response to devildavid's comment:
In response to moonslav59's comment:
In response to devildavid's comment:
In response to Hfxsoxnut's comment:
What you and moon are saying makes perfect sense. OTOH I do think the psyche of a major league hitter is probably a somewhat fragile thing. I remember when Ellsbury was injured a few years ago and they tried Pedroia at leadoff and he did terribly. He said it totally messed up his head and his approach. Like I say what you and moon makes sense but if Pedroia says there's a big psychological difference who am I to argue with him?
Players are human beings. They are not just walking bundles of statistics. They came to those numbers doing things a certain way. To assume they will come to the same numbers in a different way may or may not be true. I think numbers guys underestimate the human factor.
I played the game for many many years. I don't see much difference in where I batted in terms of comfort.
Just because I enjoy numebrs, doesn't mean I don't understand the human aspect of the game. There may be a few hitters who thrive on consistency of approach, but within each game one's approach changes or should change as the game situations change anyways (man on, one behind, 5 ahead, no outs, 2 outs, etc...).
This is my line-up philosophy in a nutshell, although nothing is etched in stone:
1) You fill in the 3 slot hitter first. He should be your best OBP & SLG guy combined. Splits matter. Record vs that pitcher matters some, if the sampkle size is big (rare).
2) The 4 slot is filled by your biggest power hitter left over, unless he has a huge OBP differential to the worse as compared to another power hitter you have.
3) The 1 slot should be your best OBP guy with speed as a tie breaker if it is close.
4) The 2 slot should be someone who gets OB and makes contact. Speed is a plus, but not essential.
5) The 5 slot, followed by 6, 7, 8, & 9.
6) Lefty-Righty alternations are over-rated, especially if you have some hitters who hit both sides close to equal (like Ellsbury, Pedey and Papi of late). If it is a close call, then alternate L-R-L.
You say you understand the human aspect, but in the case of batting order you seem to pretty much discount it. Your personal experience with comfort in the batting order is not universal. In this case, you are saying numbers are more important. But you are not giving much credence to the possiblity that the numbers came about in part because of how the player was utilized. And I'm not just talking about "comfort".
There is an interesting article on fangraphs related to this subject.
I really do not think many players are effected by moving them around the order a little bit over a year or even a lot in some cases. There may be a few players who pout and their performance suffers, but I think it is overblown. I also look at it this way: for every player than is upset that he has been dropped in the line-up, there is a player pumped up in confide3nce that he has been moved up or is even in the line-up.
I remember playing for a manager who batted me 6th or 7th when I had the best BA, OBP, and speed on the base paths on the team. I was upset, yes, but my numbers never dipped. Once you are past the first inning, it really hardly seems to matter. I was happy to get RBI opportunities being behind some good hitters, instead of being behind the bottom of the order. Eventually, he moved me up to second in the order, and when the leadoff guy got hurt, I made it to 1st up and stayed there for a year and a half.
I'm not talking radical swapping around of slots. My line-ups posted are pretty tame in terms of flipping people. As a manager, I'd never surprise a player with a move. They'd know it ahead of time, and the reasons why.
I probably would rely on L-R splits more than I see most managers rely on, but those numbers are not in a vacumn. Numbers vs that particular pitcher or type of pitcher (Heat, finess, sinker...) makes a difference as well. For the most part, a player would know where he would bat vs a RHP and vs a LHP.
Here's one example: I hear many posters say we should never move Pedey from the 2 slot, because he has been so great there, and his great contact, decent speed, high OBP, and other factors support that idea a lot, however, some numbers also back up the idea that he can thrive elsewhere.
Pedey by slot:
PA BA OBP/Slg OPS
1) 354 .253 .318/.375 .693
2) 2768 .305 .374/.463 .837
3) 354 .304 .356/.484 .840
4) 139 .397 .442/.675 1.117
Pedey has been a beast in the 4 slot in a pretty significant sample size, but Lord forbid we upset his fragile ego by moving him. (I'm not sure it upsets him, I just said that to counter rigid thinkers. I actually think Pedey's minset is more like a clean-up hitter than a #2 hitter, but that's neither here nor there...)
I remember arguments with softy about Ellsbury's worse numbers in the 1 slot than elsewhere. I did not take the position that past numbers are the only mechanism for choosing future line-ups. I argued that Ells should bat 1st, while later on he even wanted CC 1st and Ells last or on the bench as a 4th OF'er. Jacoby's near even L/R splits is a very good reason for batting him 1st. His OBP was on the rise, and it's also nice to have power in the 1 slot for those late in the game "need-a-miracle moments when the bottom of the order is up.
Keeping CC high in a line-up vs LHPs is sheer insanity. The harsh splits overcome any personal or "human aspect" in his case, but with others who have close splits, there's no need jerking them from one end of the line-up to the other. (I actually advocated benching CC vs most lefties.)
I remember I wanted Papi up 4th and Manny 3rd, since Manny was better at getting on base, and Papi hit more HRs. I think Manny's numbers would have been even better than they were had he had Papi's protection, the opposite might have been true with a dip in Papi's numbers.
Under my plan, players would know their roles, know my philosophy, and would know what they need to improve in to effect a change in their status.