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Lineup & Moneyball Discussion, Cont.

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This is a continuation-thread to allow further discussion and analysis of the A's lineup, the need and place (or lack thereof) for speed, power, OBP, etc., and all other matters that tend to get discussed when an offense is struggling.

One comment from me: On the last thread, several people seemed irritated that others were "panicking" about the offense. As the person who started the ball rolling on the discussion, let me just say that I don't feel that analyzing or critiquing a lineup, or an offensive philosophy, constitutes panic of any kind. It's interesting discussion, timely because the A's aren't scoring a lot of runs right now--at least that's my perspective in opening the discussion.

Below, you will find 4 posts I have reprinted from the last thread. I thought they were interesting, provocative, and all different, making them good choices to reprint for possible response.

Now, you were saying?...

Leadoff with the top Slugger

Everyone has been suggesting lineups and an array of changes Macha should implement. Well I'd like to chime in with my own proposition. Here it is:

Bat Dan Johnson leadoff! (Not only does he have the highest OBP of the team, but he's number two in slugging) So why have the number two slugger batting leadoff? Well, look at it this way. What is OBP actually measuring? Why is reaching base so important?

I'll make it easy: because you aren't making outs.

So really, that's what OBP is a measure of. It's not the rate at which you reach base, but the rate at which you aren't making outs.

By the same token, SLG isn't strictly a measure of a player's power, but a measure of the ratio of bases gained to at-bats. So by putting the highest SLG guy first in the lineup, you're increasing the expected bases gained for the leadoff role. Instead of leading off the game with a single or a walk, perhaps the team leads it off with a double.

You might be asking yourself "So if the best slugger bats leadoff, who will bring him in??" Well that's not as important as you might think. A single will bring him home from second if Johnson doubles. Also, the #2 SLG guy will bat 2nd and the #3 third and so forth. What this does is, with the "singles" hitters batting 6-7-8, guess who's waiting to bring them in if they get on board?

You just have to look at the expected value chart for runs expected in various base runner situations to make sense of all of this...

If the A's lead off the inning with a walk or single, their run expectancy would be about 0.953 runs for that inning.

However, if the A's lead off with a double, it jumps to 1.189! So basically the sluggers will start the game because they'll gain more bases on average, it will take less to bring them home and the guys at the bottom of the lineup will be waiting for the sluggers to clear them.

Actually, that's all OPS is: the expected number of bases gained per plate appearance.

OBP is double dipping. Instead if you use isolated OBP to figure out the OBP due to walks, you can use SLG+IsoOBP to estimate the true rate of bases/PA for each player.

So Johnson's expected bases per plate appearance, combining his hits and his walks, is .645
Of course, Johnson is also the top OBP guy so that helps him. Payton clocks in at .583 for bases per plate appearance. For Swisher, it's .569

Suggested Lineup:

Johnson .645
Payton .583
Swisher .569
Chavez .554
Crosby .554
Ellis .500
Kotsay .473
Hatty .465
Kendall .423

Scutaro .463
Kielty .506
Melhuse .463

This lineup also brings some nice balance as far as having righties followed by lefties. If Macha shakes things up maybe the A's can keep the Yankees and the rest of the wild cards at bay. We want the White Soxs!!

by superhombre10

You're right, but...

Generally speaking you've hit the nail on the head, but what you've laid out is only one model for building a productive lineup. Now, it is the overwhelmingly dominant model, so it makes a lot of sense to look at it that way, but I don't think the model of traditional leadoff, masher, and #1 go-to guy is at all the way the A's are constructed.

Rather, the A's success depends on having no easy outs throughout the lineup, and stringing together a long lineup of guys who make contact, get on base, move guys over and drive in runs. No one in the lineup is going to make you quake in your boots, but ideally an opposing team never looks at the three batters due up and says "this should be an easy inning."

Think about it. When the A's were going well for 2 months plus, people talked about it being a different player every day making the difference. That's the success of the top-to-bottom model in action. The downside is that when 3 or 4 or 5 (or 6 or 7) guys stop churning, the wheels fall off. That's what happened in May, and that's what's happening right now. It'll pass.

Incidentally, I remember seeing a stat on the scoreboard during a Swisher at bat against the Angels that gave the A's record with Swisher in the lineup and without. I remember it being horrendous without Swish, but excellent with. So, we have his return to look forward to, which is nice.

by DickWilliams

I agree ...

that we may eventually see a moneyball team of dominant speed guys ... I just don't think that today is that day. We only have 2 players on the entire team who have stolen more than one base and been successful at least 70% of the time. Chavvy is 4/4 and Scooter is 3/4.

Chavvy could be a 15 steal guy (so could Scooter, but, barring injuries, he isn't going to play enough) and Crosby, Kendall and Kotsay could be 8-10 steal guys. Masher or no, we just don't have the players to be that kind of team.

But, thankfully, there is a third way. I agree, we are lacking that truly dominant bat that the Angels, Yankees, and Red Sox have. (though, I would be remiss not to point out, most other playoff contenders - like the White Sox, Twins, Braves, Astros, Nationals {snicker}, Padres {double snicker} - don't either) But, thank the good GM, Billy Beane, there is another way, HALLELUJAH!

I have been to the mountaintop and I have seen the light! Billy told his future GM number crunchers to build a team. He told them to bring two (or more) players of every position. He told them to find players with gloves of gold and eyes of amber, who would make the opponents suffer for the sin of throwing balls and suffer even more for the sin of grooving one once they were down in the count. He told them to build a team and not to worship graven images of superstars, not to covet their neighbors Vlad, but to build from what their neighbors threw away ... and always to covet these new players' ass. He told them also to watch the draft begat Street, Crosby, Swisher, and Blanton and to have Mulder begat Haren and Calero and Grieve begat Ellis and Lilly begat Kielty and Redman with Rhodes begat Kendall and Ramon begat Kotsay.

Billy Beane commanded them to build a team - with talented players at every position, with a quality pitching staff, a deep bullpen, and the best defense around. They built that team and it was good.

by devo

The only thing I disagree with

is when Beane says the playoffs is a crap shoot. I think it's better pitching that consistently does us in because we prey on the walks. I just don't think our manager is ever creative enough and I think it's because BB doesn't let them be that way. They're player managers who don't want to upset the players and are controlled by veterans like Kendall and Kotsay. Just MHO. Go A's! Let's at least continue KC's losing streak and shut up John Kruk!

by mitche65