Monday, April 16, 2007

Scoring Runs: Giants Theoretic Level (Part 2 of 2)

As I noted in my last post, pitchers can have a great effect on the lineup. As a sidenote, this reminded me of Tony LaRussa's experiment to benefit from the 9th batter effect by hitting his pitcher 8th and 8th hitter,9th. However, the gain from moving the hitter to 9th is mostly negated by the pitcher now hitting 8th, though there is some gain. For example, moving Winn to 9th would gain us 0.11 runs per game. Not a huge difference but it would gain us bout 2 extra wins a seson, so that's actually not too bad, more than I thought it would.

Giants 2007 Lineup

This post is going to be about the lineup. I used the lineup data from Beyond the Scoresheet's regression data that Baseball Musing uses for their lineup optimizer application on his website. I first took the Giants 2006 stats by lineup position and calculated what the runs scored per game was theoretically: 4.63 runs. In actuality, they scored 4.63 runs. Looks pretty good, no?

I then went through some permutations on the lineup:
  • Roberts/Vizquel/Aurilia/Bonds/Durham/Klesko/Molina/Winn: As I've noted a number of times, Klesko should force his way into the lineup if he is healthy, and he has, to the point where Feliz had to be benched. Huzzah for Giants fans all over. Using this calculation, and my best guess for each's player's 2007 stats for OBP and SLG, this lineup generated 5.15 runs per game.
  • Roberts/Vizquel/Aurilia/Bonds/Durham/Molina/Feliz/Winn: Batting Molina 6th results in a 0.09 run advantage over Feliz, and 0.03 run net effect over them switched. This lineup scores 4.93 runs per game.
  • Roberts/Vizquel/Bonds/Durham/Aurilia/Molina/Feliz/Winn: Even if they went back to the Bonds batting 3rd theory, they still theoretically score 4.92 runs per game.
The lineup optimizer always generated a weird lineup, with Bonds batting 1st or 2nd - due to all the walks - plus bat Vizquel near the bottom of the lineup. I suppose that could explain why the Giants offense has been a bit anemic the past two seasons with him batting 2nd where Bonds should be. :^)

Anyway you twist it, the lineup is a good 0.3 to 0.5 runs more potent than last season's team. The addition of Klesko, Aurilia, and Molina, plus (hopefully) the return of Winn to his career numbers does that. Even if Winn reduplicated last year's poor performance in the 8th spot, that would minimize his decline and only drop the lineup production by 0.05 runs per game, it will still be much improved. This improved lineup will result in a 86 to 89 win season if the Giants team ERA was 4.6 runs this year.

I think that should be more than possible with the starting rotation we have right now, even with Zito's troubles right now. In fact, given how well Morris and Ortiz are pitching, I think the starting rotation is capable of getting their ERA down in the low 4 range. Getting the pitching down to 4.2 runs, for example, would result in over 93 wins.

Of course, this is all theoretically and in reality the offense has stunk it up thus far. Hopefully the lineup will be closer to theory than to the reality of the past two weeks. But there's no way the team continues to score less than 2 runs per game averge, or whatever the ridiculously low amount has been, even the worse teams of recent years average over 4 runs per game over a full season.

Seeing this lineup result gives me renewed hopes that the Giants will be competitive this year. I knew that the pitching staff should be pretty good but now that I can put some numbers to it, everything seems doable. We don't need Cain to be an unqualified ace, he only has to deliver something like last year. Zito does need to do what he did the past two seasons, but he's pitching in the NL, where ERA's go down a bit when you move leagues. Lowry, even with his foul 2006 season, his ERA was still 3.75 at the end of August, before his arm problems derailed his overall stats. Morris's was right around the mid-4's until he broke his ribs somewhere (still want to know. And Ortiz, when he has his cutter working, like he apparently has now, is easily capable of a low 4 ERA as well. We just need a low 4 ERA for the starters plus the relievers need to do about that well too.

That's a tall order given how unsettled the bulllpen is, but here is where we fans need to keep our fingers crossed. All I can say is that we need to give them time to figure things out, whether up here or bringing up other guys, like Misch. And hopefully Wilson will get himself straight down there too.

That leaves the offense, the start of this post. There is a lot potential for this to be a very potent offense. That coupled with our improve starting rotation should start yielding many wins and this awful first couple of weeks will be forgotten.

2 comments:

  1. Interesting post, Martin. I also have opined that I expect the Giants to score 50-70 more runs this season to last. I didn't analyze numbers, but I just thought we get more production out of Barry this year, we have more options at 1b and 3b, so we can get more than the poor production we got from those sp[ots last year, irrespective of the name of who is playing, Molina is worth a few more runs than Alfonzo, and, finally, our remaining OF (Roberts, Linden, Winn) will produce better than last year's OF (limited Alou, Finley, Winn). And, yes, I am expecting Winn to at least be somewhere between last year and his career numbers if he does not return all the way to his career numbers.
    The hardest thing, I think, is to construct a lineup. Particularly if you bat Bonds 4th. I would prefer to bat him 2nd, but I don't see that happening. 4th, at least, is better than batting him 3d. Clearly Roberts bats 1st. Durham should follow Bonds. The problem, as I see it is who to bat 2nd? Aurilia, I suppose. Then who to move into the 3d slot? Klesko? I wouldn't mind seeing him get the benifit of the fastballs that go to the guy hitting ahead of Bonds. I also like Klesko there because he makes the pitchers throw strikes - and he not only takes walks, but he will work the pitcher for a walk. Perfect to precede Bonds, as the pitcher has already exerted a lot of effort and concentration even before Bonds comes to the plate. The downside, is you have lefty, lefty. I like that lineup 1-6 (Roberts, Aurilia, Kelsko, Bonds, Durham, Molina), but 7-8 looks to be weak (Winn, Omar).

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  2. That's the beauty of it all, most teams have weak hitters in the 7-8 spot. Teams that rely on offense are then screwed, but teams like ours who focus on pitching and defense, it is not only acceptable, but really, Winn and Vizquel, 7/8, would probably be one of the top 7/8 tandems in the NL, even if Vizquel has another of his .700 OPS that he has every other year.

    I like your lineup of Roberts, Aurilia, Klesko, Bonds, Durham, Molina, that's pretty solid and everyone is in a spot that take advantage of their particular hitting skills.

    Personally, if you are going to move Klesko into the top portion of the lineup, I would prefer to move him to 2nd, kind of like how the Giants batted Snow there a few years back. Klesko has a great career OBP and takes a lot of walks, so you got Roberts and him working the pitcher 1/2, plus both get on base a lot more, setting up RBI situations for Aurilia, Bonds, Durham after that.

    Using my calculator, your lineup scores 5.11 runs per game, while mine scores 5.14 runs per game. That's about a half win difference if your pitching staff gives up runs in the 4.2 to 4.6 runs per game pace, based on the Pythagorean Theory of winning percentage that Bill James devised.

    The only problem then is that late in the game, you get L/L/R/L/S/R/S/S, which is bad, as both Roberts and Klesko can't hit LHP worth a darn, and thus both would need to be PH for, so it would probably be better your way, Roberts, Aurilia, Klesko, than my way.

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