June 1, 2006


Just for Chuckles, we ask computer for its Phils lineup (MARK KRAM, 6/01/06, Philadelphia Daily News)

[T]he Daily News contacted Mark Pankin, a mathematics wizard from Virginia who has developed one of the more sophisticated computer models to analyze the productivity of baseball lineups. Inputting the career statistics of the eight regulars through May 21, Pankin assessed the run-scoring ability of a lineup typically used by Manuel and then attempted to come up with one that would be even better.

Interestingly, the average run totals produced by both were very close. In fact, they were so close that the computer-preferred lineup accounted for just 6.48 extra runs per season against righthanded pitchers and 7.45 against lefthanders. In that Pankin says "a general and usually good rule of thumb" is that 10 extra runs should translate into one more win during the course of a season, one could extrapolate that the highest-scoring lineup Pankin could come up with would account for perhaps one extra win over 162 games.

(One extra win could have catapulted the Phillies into the playoffs last year, but as Pankin cautions: "That was last year.")

Bear in mind that this is purely theoretical. The model Pankin employed does not consider certain variables that would typically come up during the course of a game. Pankin says it does not factor in pitching changes or the use of pinch-hitters or that other players will be in the lineup due to injuries or days off. But it does evaluate the potency of one starting lineup over another. And in the case of the Phillies, it echoed what some of the fans have been yelling for years.

Bat Abreu in the leadoff spot!

Surprisingly, it also switched Pat Burrell from the cleanup position into the second hole.

And it would drop Chase Utley from second to eighth in the order against lefthanders.

Overall, Pankin says the model likes what Manuel is doing, but adds that it thinks Manuel "could do a little better if he leads off with Abreu rather than Rollins." Insofar as Burrell is concerned, Pankin understands that Manuel would probably have trouble implementing that move in the real world, if only because conventional wisdom says "certain types of hitters should hit in certain places."

Abreu has a .447 on-base percentage and just seven homeruns--why wouldn't you bat him leadoff?.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 1, 2006 6:32 AM

Abreu has a career .512 SLG (.509 this year). Keep him in the three-hole. Get Rollins away from the top of the order, though. He's the Philly version of Coco Crisp, a guy who has no business hitting leadoff. Crisp has a .332 career OBP, Rollins is even worse at .327.

Utley-Burrell-Abreu is probably the best 1-2-3 order the Phillies could get, especially against righthanders. Three guys with career OBP's over .350 and all with power.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox are hitting Youkilis (career .400 OBP) down in the order so they can watch Crisp waste plate appearances in the one-hole. Bill James must be weeping as I type.

Posted by: Casey Abell at June 1, 2006 3:24 PM

Youk should certainly lead off, but Crisp is supposed to replace Damon....

Posted by: oj at June 1, 2006 3:39 PM

By the way, this year Utley, Burrell and Abreu all have OBP's over .390. Meanwhile, Rollins is stinking at .312. Put that shortstop in the eight-hole where he belongs.

Posted by: Casey Abell at June 1, 2006 3:40 PM