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Just The Sports: Optimal Batting Order

Just The Sports

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Optimal Batting Order

In their book, The Book: Playing the Percentage In Baseball, the authors Tango, Lichtman, and Dolphin devote a chapter to what kind of batters would make the optimal line-up for baseball teams so I wanted to see what the optimal line-up would be for a few teams. The teams I chose not at all at random are the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, Cleveland Indians, Minnesota Twins, and Oakland Athletics. It does bear mentioning that line-ups do not matter that much, but if a team can squeeze a few more runs out of their hitters, there is no reason not to at least give it a try.

From their research, they have concluded that the best three hitters on a team should bat in the #1, #2, and #4 slots. As a tiebreaker among these three spots, the #1 and #2 hitters should draw more walks. Then the #3 and #5 slots should be where your next best hitters are located. After that, the batters should be ordered in descending orders of mediocrity. I will be basing the batters' quality on wOBA (weight on-base average or OBP*2+SLG/3).

There are other variables which could be considered when putting together a line-up such as a player's baserunning ability or his propensity to ground into a double play, but I will not be focusing on those aspects.

Here are the results, based on the players' season data that I chose to look at. When other players are in the line-up, of course the alignment will change.

New York Yankees (Optimal)
1. Derek Jeter .441 wOBA
2. Alex Rodriguez .428 wOBA
3. Johnny Damon .403 wOBA
4. Jason Giambi .479 wOBA
5. Jorge Posada .414 wOBA
6. Robinson Cano .382 wOBA
7. Melky Cabrera .366 wOBA
8. Bernie Williams .357 wOBA
9. Andy Phillips .332 wOBA

Boston Red Sox (Optimal)
1. Trot Nixon .424 wOBA
2. David Ortiz .467 wOBA
3. Mike Lowell .409 wOBA
4. Manny Ramirez .488 wOBA
5. Kevin Youkilis .419 wOBA
6. Mark Loretta .365 wOBA
7. Alex Gonzalez .349 wOBA
8. Coco Crisp .349 wOBA
9. Jason Varitek .346 wOBA

Detroit Tigers (Optimal)
1. Carlos Guillen .426 wOBA
2. Magglio Ordonez .405 wOBA
3. Curtis Granderson .396 wOBA
4. Marcus Thames .457 wOBA
5. Chris Shelton .405 wOBA
6. Ivan Rodriguez .381 wOBA
7. Brandon Inge .351 wOBA
8. Craig Monroe .340 wOBA
9. Placido Polanco .326 wOBA

Cleveland Indians (Optimal)
1. Grady Sizemore .416 wOBA
2. Casey Blake .434 wOBA
3. Victor Martinez .403 wOBA
4. Travis Hafner .524 wOBA
5. Ben Broussard .412 wOBA
6. Ronnie Belliard .361 wOBA
7. Jhonny Peralta .354 wOBA
8. Jason Michaels .347 wOBA
9. Aaron Boone .324 wOBA

Minnesota Twins (Optimal)
1. Michael Cuddyer .401 wOBA
2. Justin Morneau .433 wOBA
3. Torii Hunter .378 wOBA
4. Joe Mauer .473 wOBA
5. Nick Punto .396 wOBA
6. Jason Bartlett .397 wOBA (would be 5th, but only has 87 at-bats)
7. Shannon Stewart .354 wOBA
8. Luis Castillo .346 wOBA
9. Lew Ford .308 wOBA

Oakland Athletics (Optimal)
1. Eric Chavez .378 wOBA
2. Frank Thomas .422 wOBA
3. Jason Kendall .333 wOBA
4. Nick Swisher .425 wOBA
5. Dan Johnson .342 wOBA
6. Jay Payton .330 wOBA
7. Mark Kotsay .329 wOBA
8. Bobby Crosby .311 wOBA
9. Mark Ellis .299 wOBA

Since I did these line-ups based on this season and not the players' career, they may not be as optimal as possible, but if the teams did switch to these line-ups, maybe they would be able to score a few more runs. Although, it is not as if their actual line-ups are hurting them.


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