Reading the recent fanpost about acquiring Juan Pierre I was taken back to a theory I have had for several years regarding a new direction teams, particularly financially strapped ones, could take and theoretically be more competive. It is radical, and to my my knowledge has never been attempted in totality. Drum roll please...
A lineup composed in near entirety of speedy players running wild, surrounded by contact hitters. Lets delve in to this concept a bit.
Im literally proposing a team that would ideally be composed of guys who get on base and just run. Green light to go everytime. We may get thrown out plenty of times, but how often would we have runners in scoring position? Bunts, squeezes, contact swings. Teams would have fits controlling this way of play.
First lets start with the reasoning of how this could work and why it is effective. Speedy players do a number ofthings that change the way games are played.
1. When on base, they are always in the pitchers head, and thus taking some of their focus off of the hitter.
2. A single can develop into a double or triple within the span of a couple pitches.
3. The pitcher is reduced many times to a slidestep reducing their velocity.
4. Singles hitters become much more effective when each runner is capable of stealing bases.
5. Pickoff throws, are akin to adding to pitchcounts.
6. Relief pitchers are often much less effective at holding baserunners.
7. Small ball in this scenario could cut teams to pieces
8. Speedy players are generally very good defensively
I used to play a little college ball, and Im sure anyone who has played any form of competitive baseball knows how unsettling a speedy baserunner can be to the other team. No pitcher would feel comfortable with a team composed in such a way...
No lets get into the composition... First off it require a total commitment to the process. Just start drafting this way. No other team in the game would be doing this... instead of looking for the next Bryce Harper or Prince Fielder... we would be looking for Coco Crisp (7th round) or michael bourn (4th round). Its clear as day speed players go way later than power hitters, obviously. We could have a drafts with no competition, theoretically of course.
And this concept continues into the majors. Chicks dig the long ball. And so do agents. And every team.. Homers get paid top dollar...Steals do not.. And contact hitters do not.
Now this is not scientific as arbitration and pre free agent salaries are in play.. And homeruns are not the sole statistic of truth, but here is a breakdown of last years top 10 sb leaders salaries going into this year vs. those of the homerun hitters.
1. Bourn 4.4 million 1.Bautista 8 million
2.crisp 5.75 2. Granderson 8.25
3. Gardner 575,000 3. texeira 23.125
4. Ichiro 18.0 million 4. Kemp 7.1 million
5.Maybin 429,000 5.Prince 15.5 mil
6. Kemp 7.1 million 6 Albert 14.5
7.Bonifacio 425,000 7. Reynolds 5.33
8. Stubbs 450,000 8.Uggla 9.14
9. Reyes 11.0 mil 9.Stanton 416,000
10 ellsbury 2.4 10. Howard 20 mil
Total 50.5 million Total 111.361 million
Now what this tells us is a few things. Sb leaders are younger and therefor are more productive straight out of minors. Whereas these homerun hitters typically take a few years to be monsters. This benefits the small market team. As the parts will be more replaceable. And. generally the top shelf salary for this type of player is much lower... Even though the perfect player for this scheme is Ichiro, who does receive that top shelf price.
Next lets go and just for kicks take the highest sb totals per position (per ab) and subtracting the 5 tool players such as Kemp, and attempt to field a lineup.
C: Russell Martin 8 sb: we have to start somewhere 4.0 mil
1B: Jesus Guzman 9 SB in 247 ab's League minimum
ok now away from the weak positions... and in fairness those two positions would be best served through contact hitters such as Sean Casey type. Martin would suffice as well
2B: Jemile Weeks 22 in 406 ab's Minimum (kinsler and pedroia had more)
3B: Chone Figgins 11 in 288 ab's 9 million (in years past would have been perfect)
ss Bonifacio 44 SBs 425,000
OF Gardner 49
OF Bourn 61
Of Crisp 41
I would definitely come up with some better lineups for this scheme... But I can just see in my minds eye a team like this, given the directive to run wild could hurt teams and be effective on the cheap. Im in no way saying this team would beat the yankees in the ALCS... but would certainly be more effective than running an aged Giambi and Matsui out there, in my opinion.
Its getting late but i needed to get this off my chest and see what my brethren here have to say about this.