Today I read a very interesting fan post over at BBTIA and wanted to make sure I discussed it tonight. A very intelligent fan brought up the topic of batting order and what it actually means to the numbers. I’m going to use some Bill James references so bare with me.
He worded his question differently, obviously gearing it around the Rangers, but what he basically asked was this:
How does a certain batting order effect the amount of runs scored?
The basics of SABRmetrics says that getting on-base more often leads to runs scored which leads to wins. This is easy enough to understand, what isn’t though is trying to figure out how a certain spot in the lineup can effect the amount of runs scored, which in turn will effect wins. Bill James states that the only analytical difference between the batting order spots is that your first 4-5 hitters get roughly 100 more PAs than the guys further down in the lineup. The example I will use (which is also the example the interested fan used) is Elvis Andrus and Mike Napoli. Elvis’ OBP was .347 compared to Naps’ .414. Now, obviously just looking at the numbers Mike Napoli would have been the better choice for the 2 hole. Using wRC and 2011 stats, I found that batting Elvis in the 2 hole and not Napoli cost the Rangers roughly 8.3 runs, and since roughly 10 runs equals one win, it cost the Rangers anywhere from .5 to 1 win. This meant nothing having won the division by ten games, but in a closer race this could be pretty important. But what this theory doesn’t take into account is stolen bases and excellent baserunning. Not saying anything bad about Napoli, but Elvis is the clear winner in the baserunning argument. How important is baserunning though? I believe it is extremely important. Putting pressure on the pitcher and not having a problem going from first to third or first to home is insanely important, especially in Washs’ games. I’d like to hear some more feedback on this and see what other people think on the subject. What do you think the batting order should be for the Rangers in 2012? Assuming everyone is healthy of course. Stay thirsty my friends, Go Rangers.