To me, and a lot of others, Trey Hillman always seemed to be doing something wrong with his lineup. While overall lineup construction does not change the output of the team much over the course of the season, it still hurts to see someone like Jason Kendall bat 6th (42 PAs there this year!) Yost's simple change of moving Kendall to the 9 spot made me curious as to the differences between their choices, and how those might play out over the course of the season. So let's take a look at what small changes can do for your offense.
First of all, Yost's lineup hasn't changed at all from what Hillman posted in the final 3 games of his tenure. Besides Brayan Pena starting Hillman's final game (extra offensive push to win? Greinke doesn't need catcher help? Smartest move Hillman made all year?), the lineups have been identical except for Kendall moving to the 9th position. This move smells like an NL bat the pitcher 8th move to me, and put a higher OBP guy at the bottom of the lineup, so the better hitters at 1-3 can drive him in possibly. So let's take a look at what the 2010 updated ZiPS projections on Fangraphs say about how productive this offense would be over an entire year with these constructions. Here are the projections:
|D. DeJesus rf||0.352||0.441|
|S. Podsednik lf||0.350||0.401|
|B. Butler 1b||0.361||0.471|
|R. Ankiel cf||0.303||0.445|
|J. Guillen dh||0.315||0.453|
|Y. Betancourt ss||0.299||0.394|
|J. Kendall c||0.338||0.326|
And now here are the lineups:
Hillman's final 3 games
|M. Aviles 2b|
|D. DeJesus rf|
|B. Butler 1b|
|J. Guillen dh|
|A. Callaspo 3b|
|C - J Kendall (Pena in finale)|
|M. Maier cf|
|Y. Betancourt ss|
For Yost's lineups simply slide MITCH and Yuni up one slot and put Kendall at 9. The difference in runs per game is .064 Runs per Game. Doesn't sound like much, but over an entire season .064 x 162 = 10.368 Runs, or using the rule of 10 runs = 1 win, that's +1 Win for Yost already over an entire season.
So Yost has already demonstrated superior lineup making skills, and in Dayton's world, that means he owns that tool. He has also shown a consistency so far in having the same lineup for all 3 games. Yost looks to shake things up with the lineup Monday at Baltimore, but nothing definitive other DDJ in the number 3 spot is confirmed yet.
The rest of Hillman's lineups have essentially the same set up, with a different part here or there. Hillman really never had Aviles healthy til Ankiel was out, so there's really no way of knowing how those lineups would have looked. And with Gordon complicating the OF logjam Yost is going to have make some choices, and I suspect this will tell us a lot about what Yost prefers (hopefully an OF gets traded soon, preferably not Gordon and not MITCH). But for now, with just the lineup as data, Yost is 1 game better than Hillman by making a small change. Will that matter this season? Probably not, but in a pennant race that game could be the difference between playoffs and sitting home. I also think it says something that I no longer fear the Royals are going to go 52-110. They are currently on a 60 win pace, can Yost bring them back to where we thought they'd be preseason (around 72 wins or so)?
Thanks to Baseball Musings Lineup Analyzer. If you click the link, it comes pre-loaded with some stats, so you can play around and make your own lineups for the Yost era. What does everyone else want to see when we have Ankiel, Gordon, Pods, DDJ, and MITCH playing OF for this team (and JoGui at DH)? I'd like to see Kila come into play, but that obviously isn't going to happen when he just got sent packing again.
And my new favorite catchphrase? "Boom! Yosted!"