Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Batting Lineup Fun: 2009 Giants

Baseball Musing has a Lineup Analysis website based on the research of Cyril Morong, Ken Arneson, and Ryan Armbrust, that I use to study how the Giants lineup might produce given pre-season projections. The lineup has produced about what it was expected to do, somewhere in the low 4's.

I decided to input the stats from today for the lineup of roughly what we have been seeing the past two months:
  • Rowand
  • Winn
  • Sandoval
  • Molina
  • Schierholtz
  • Ishikawa
  • Renteria
  • Uribe
  • Pitcher/PH

Those are basically the hitters that would be in the lineup, and roughly lineup position. According the application, the above lineup would average 4.27 runs per game, and that is roughly what it has averaged the past two months; it has actually been higher because players like Ishikawa, Schierholtz, Rowand, Uribe were hitting much better during that stretch than their overall numbers today. That shows how important it is to look at both the players overall numbers and their numbers for the past month or two weeks even, to catch when a player is scuffling or doing much better.

The Lineup Analysis takes the OBP and SLG of each hitter and calculates the best lineup based on the stats.

Here is the best lineup according to the application:

  1. Rowand
  2. Sandoval
  3. Winn
  4. Uribe
  5. Schierholtz
  6. Molina
  7. Ishikawa
  8. Pitcher
  9. Renteria

This lineup would produce about 4.49 runs per game. Most of the top lineups were roughly the above, with one player or another swapped. A good number had Schierholtz and Ishikawa batting 3rd. Many also swapped Schierholtz and Ishikawa in the 5th and 7th position. The changes only cost the Giants maybe 0.05 to 0.1 runs per game, so changes don't really affect the overall number much. Mainly it was Rowand leading off, Sandoval 2nd, Winn 3rd, Uribe 4th, Molina 6th, Pitcher 8th, Renteria 9th.

So maybe Bochy knew a little something about lineup construction. Rowand was selected to be leadoff. Sandoval and Winn are swapped 2/3. Schierholtz and Ishikawa basically bats 5/6/7. It basically swaps Molina and Uribe. And hitting Molina 4th and Uribe 6th instead of the suggested reversed in this idealized lineup? It costs the Giants 0.01 runs per game. What is really costing the Giants runs is moving Renteria from 8th to 6th while dropping Uribe to 8th.

Downs Up, Sadowski too; Frandsen down and Aurilia DLed

Frandsen must have really pissed off management by mouthing off this spring. He's been sent down while Downs was brought up to start regularly at 2B. Bochy noted that Uribe is starting to slow down, so they are moving him back to the 2B/SS/3B role he had before while giving Downs a chance to start. But Downs is hitting basically what Frandsen is hitting, both in AAA and majors, and Frandsen is better defensively. Meanwhile, Uribe has actually been on a good hitting streak, .378/.439/.676/1.115 over the past 11 games.

Sadowski coming up was no surprise, but Aurilia getting DLed with a sore toe was. He reportedly was not happy about doing this, but if he does have a sore toe, he should welcome the chance to rest and let it heal. What they probably said was that they were going to release him if he didn't DL him. And there is the chance he might not come back to the majors and get released once he is healthy, if Bowker is hitting or Downs is hitting.

I suspect Aurilia's time with the Giants is drawing near. Many have had a problem with him, but he's been much better lately, after his early struggles which I attribute to dealing with his mother's failing health. He has been OK since then, but Bowker's hot hitting makes him a key prospect to check out because he's not only hitting for power but also getting on base. If he can translate that to the majors, he's the middle of lineup bat that would finally push Molina out of the cleanup spot.


  1. Woe is Aurilia. Getting $1 million for doing a lousy job. I wish God would smite me with that predicament.

    On a happier note, I'm glad we didn't get LaRoche, an expensive older version of Ishikawa.

  2. I understand your sentiments on this and I've said it before for other players near the end of their line.

    But I think Aurilia is a good bench player for us. While he hasn't been used for this, he can back up all the infield positions in a pinch. A lot of our young players are all lefties, making his right-handed bat, particularly one that hit .321/.377/.526/.903 with 5 HR in 137 AB (27 AB/HR or 25 HR season) against LHP just the year before, great in a platoon situation - both Sandoval and Ishikawa had some problems with LHP previously in their career.

    And an infected big toe should probably affect his hitting in some way, as right-haneded batter pivots on that toe when swinging and puts a lot of pressure there. That would mute the power of his swing, I would think.

    The only way I would be OK with releasing Aurilia is if it opens up a spot for Frandsen to be the utility guy that the Giants apparently think he is, so that when Downs falters - there is a reason why he didn't rank high in our farm system in any analysts Top Giants prospects list this season and for past seasons and he wasn't that impressive this season either, until recently - then Frandsen could be there to finally get his opportunity that he deserved.

    Also, Downs has benefited from being good only at home, while Frandsen has been equally good at home and on the road.

    The big plus for Downs, I must admit, is that he had 20 HR last season, and look to provide more power (as well as more SB) than Frandsen ever would. But Frandsen can play defense, which I think is more important to the pitchers, and any value we could get for him in trade would be predicated on him hitting for us in the majors, which he can't do unless he 1) get the chance to do it and 2) do it.

    I am not just a Frandsen apologist. If he can start and do well, he could become a good trading chip or even our starting 2B in 2010. If he fails, Downs is only 26 for next season, and would get his chance then, if not late this season if Frandsen does falter. And BA says that Downs profile as a utility player, whereas Frandsen had enough skills and potential that he had cracked the Top 10 before.

  3. ..."while Frandsen has been equally good at home and on the road."
    isn't he batting .125 or something?
    maybe "equally bad" is more appropriate.

  4. You may not a Frandsen apologist, but you sure seem to be an Aurilia apologist. There is no justification for keeping Aurilia on the roster anymore. I understand the right handed hitting issue, and you would have a point if Aurilia could still hit. The fact is that he can't get it done at the plate anymore. That fact is obvious if you watch his at-bats. Mediocre pitchers are abusing him at the plate....and it's sad to watch. It has nothing to do with his big toe, his father passing away, or any other excuse yo may want to come up with. He's done.......toast.

  5. Well, anon - brave, by the way - if you are one of those with psychic powers who can divine off limited major league at-bats how good a hitter is, well, you shouldn't be commenting on a dumb blog like mine and making good money with your powers.

    Otherwise, those who are a bit more knowledgeable about baseball know that I was talking about Frandsen's AAA hitting, which is really the only area of valid comparison between the two hitters this season.

  6. Boof, we probably differ on what being done or toast, means.

    Aurilia has been valuable, in my opinion, hitting .262/.333/.405/.738 with 2 HR in 42 AB since May 31st. That's not too bad in limited play off the bench.

    I'll admit that he's not the hitter he once was, but after his early struggles, whatever the reasons may be, he has turned it around and been OK for almost two months now, as a hitter.

  7. All I can say is that you must not be watching his at-bats then. If you had been watching, there is no way you could ever say that he's been OK for 2 months. If that were the case, He's still be on the roster instead of on the DL with a trumped up injury. Even the Giants management could not justify his place on the roster anymore and they were the last ones to concede this point.........other than you, of course.

  8. Yes, you are going to go there, the team made the decision, so you are right and I am wrong.

    Sure, if that works for you, I'm fine with it.

    So, if the Giants bring him back and he stays all season, then I'm right? :^)

    And I must be right because the Giants management gave Sabean a two year extension two years ago, and I was about the only person openly happy about that decision.

    Just to be clear to newbies, I'm being sarcastic here. Even if the team had failed to develop, I still think the two year extension was warranted. He had set up the team well in rebuilding it, he was picking up good prospects, and, more importantly, keeping the good prospects. I think he deserved the chance to see what he could do further with what he had built up.

    I'm glad it worked out, since I love the Giants, but even if the team had tanked, I think it would still have been the right move, based on process. And I would be saying that Sabean would need to be let go and hoping Neukom would do so.

    And yes, I have not been watching. I guess you missed this exchange, boof, but this point was made clear earlier this season when another commenter questioned me on this.

    I don't have time (or rather the money) to watch, much as I would enjoy, plus I don't have cable. I listen often on the radio, and follow online. And I analyze using Baseball-Reference.com's data.

    Aurilia's performance hasn't been what I would like, but really, when you are talking about a bench player who occassionally starts, you should not be really expecting much from him anyway, else he would be a starter somewhere else.

    So I'm not going to argue anymore with you regarding this, because the 25th guy on the team isn't worth arguing about more than I have done, for me. I was already done a comment or two ago, but I'm stubborn sometimes. I've made my point, if you don't accept, cie la vie.

    And if you didn't notice, I didn't think Aurilia was that big of a deal, enough to make the sole content of the post. I only chase my tail when commenting and forgetting that it's only about the bench player.

    And if there's anything I hate, it is people getting angry over bench players. There is a reason they are bench players. They aren't that good.

    I might have a preference, but there are people who act like it's the end of the world because one player or another player on the bench, and ergo, the GM is el Stupido because of that.

    Unfortunately, I get dragged into that, mainly because I am anal sometimes, but I'm stopping myself today.

  9. Well, I will say it does display his stupid & stubborn tendencies for keeping washed up veterans on the roster when, by your own admission, this is a rebuilding team and they should be committing to this process. Keeping Aurilia on the roster and having him take away at-bats & playing time from a developing youngster is the definition of stupidity. This and other examples like this is why there is so much exasperation with the tenure of Sabean.

  10. Well, I will say it does display his stupid & stubborn tendencies for keeping washed up veterans on the roster when, by your own admission, this is a rebuilding team and they should be committing to this process. Keeping Aurilia on the roster and having him take away at-bats & playing time from a developing youngster is the definition of stupidity. This and other examples like this is why there is so much exasperation with the tenure of Sabean.

  11. Yes, a developing prospect can really build up his skills and abilities sitting on the bench and getting a total of 46 PA, 40 AB over the PAST TWO MONTHS (what Aurilia got).

    If we are trying to develop a utility player, then maybe I can see dumping Aurilia and playing this utility prospect but even then, at 40 AB since the start of June, if we really have someone slotted to be a utility player, you may as well keep him in the minors, where he can start and continue to perhaps develop, then dump Aurilia in the offseason and bring this utility prospect up at that time. Why use up MLB time on this prospect sitting on the bench when we already have Aurilia?

    And that's if you have someone you are sure is a utility guy. If you still think there is a chance that he might develop and be a starting player for you, making him sit on the bench for few ABs would be stupid to do, he needs to play everyday in AAA to see if he can develop.

    Rebuilding does not mean going with a whole team of young and/or developing players. Most teams have vets serving one role or another on their team. You also don't want your team to suck totally unless you are trying to get a Top 5 pick. We are not trying to get that this season.

    So it is a fallacy to assert that a rebuilding team commits to the process by not carrying any vets. Very few teams in history has "committed to the process". In fact, one of the team lauded for their handling of rebuilding, Atlanta, signed a number of veteran free agents to supplement the gaps that they had on their team. They did not commit, as you define it Boof.

  12. Again, why all the anger over the 25th player? It is not like Frandsen (or whomever) sitting on the bench would help him develop into a starting player. Playing everyday in AAA would. Sitting him on the bench just readies him to be a utility player. But we already have someone on the bench and contributing, so why use up MLB service time on this prospect who you don't think much of now, we can keep him longer by keeping in AAA longer.

    That's why I don't understand why people call GMs stupid over the 25th man on the roster. It don't really matter much unless you have someone who you don't think very much of as a prospect and to save money you carry him on the bench. And even then that is not going to mean the difference between making the playoffs or not. If he was that good, he would be starting.

    In addition, Aurilia was never just a bench player, he was insurance if Ishikawa or Sandoval faltered and the Giants needed someone to step him and provide some modicum of offense. Without that type of backup, the team could really fail badly, and the Giants could not afford that with the fanbase that we have.

    So it is not simply a matter of a vet taking a young prospect's place, it is a matter of having a good enough backup in case prospects fail, that is why they added Uribe to the mix even though Frandsen might have been a good choice for that type of role. If Ishikawa don't work out, Aurilia could take 1B. If Sandoval don't work out, Aurilia could take 3B or Uribe could take 3B if Aurilia has to man 1B. Plus Burriss would be covered by either too, if he failed, and again it depends on who else failed.

    Now that things are a bit more settled as to who is doing well and who is not, Aurilia is not as useful, but I see no reason for sitting anyone else in his place. If it is Frandsen, why? He might still develop with regular play in AAA. If it is a prospect who is lower in the minors, why? He probably won't do better than Aurilia and he would cost the team the rookie minimum as additional cost.

    So that is why I don't understand why people call Sabean stupid for his decision to keep Aurilia around. It really adds nothing to the future of the team to have a young prospect taking that role, in fact, it could hurt if you feel that he might still have some potential. And it would cost more money because you owe Aurilia already.

    And it is the 25th man. I would rather worry about a starting position. I would rather worry about the starting rotation. I would even rather worry about the closer and set-up guys. The 25th man is not key to whether a team succeeds or not, unless he starts hitting so well that he becomes a starter. But that so rarely happens that I would not worry about that.

  13. The frustration & exasperation with Sabean's tenure is due to an overwhelming body of repeated bad decisions, of this was just one example of the type of thinking. In the grand scheme of things, it's a blip on the radar, but it is a reminder of all of those types of actions that brought a vast majority of the fanbase to call for Sabean's tenure to end.

  14. Sometimes you don't see the forest for the trees.

    If anyone expects perfection out of their GM, they will be sadly disappointed. All I really care is if the organization is headed in the right direction: as I have been saying for a few years now, so far, so good, I like the direction.

    If you want to fret and condemn every bad decision made, please feel free to do so. If you want to cling to your breast every past mistake, never to let it go, that is your right.

    All I really care is if the team is developing the way I think a team needs to develop to bring us a winning team. I accept that there must be a rebuilding period where the team stinks. I accept that the Giants made a number of moves, basically in desperation to bring in a winner while Bonds was with the team.

    But all I care about, right now, is that Sabean has put together a good team that looks to get even better with the horde of young talent brewing in the minors, and soon to join the majors, and that the team looks like it can be a major competitor in the NL West for at least the next 5-6 seasons, and if things go our way, perhaps the whole decade.



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