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Saturday, July 17, 2004

Addendum to Batting Order

A week or so ago I blogged about batting order and quoted The Hidden Game of Baseball as poo-pooing the idea that monkeying around with the batting order actually produced more runs. One thought that occurred to me after posting was that Palmer and Thorn had used the average statistics at each position in the majors from 1969-1971 along with simulation in order to come to their conclusions. In fact, here are the averages for the nine positions they used in their simulation:

1 .270 .374 .337
2 .267 .373 .333
3 .287 .476 .373
4 .280 .470 .363
5 .268 .430 .344
6 .256 .395 .331
7 .250 .359 .318
8 .235 .313 .302

Of course, my comments were directed towards Dusty Baker's lineup selection, which today looked as follows.

           AVG SLUG OBP
Walker    .282 .492 .365
Ordonez   .164 .262 .190
Sosa      .273 .559 .362
Alou      .273 .510 .327
Patterson .276 .448 .329
Lee       .302 .518 .371
Macias    .289 .405 .304
Bako      .192 .247 .280
Maddux    .143 .143 .167

What should be immediately obvious and what I hadn't thought of when I wrote my first post is that the variability in an individual team's lineup is almost always going to be greater than that in the league as a whole. And so in the case of the Cubs, batting their worst hitter (Ordonez) second and their best on base percentage hitter (Lee) 7th regularly has a greater impact than a simulation using the average at those positions would show. How big the difference is could be determined with another simulation but I'd be suprised if wasn't on the order of a couple of wins (around 20 runs).

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