FanPost

The Albert Pujols Protection Agency

Common baseball wisdom is that there is usually a guy or two in the lineup that provides protection - an elusive concept that refers to the opponents pitching differently to the guy that bats in front of the protection.

When Billy Butler was skipped over for the 2012 All-Star Home Run Derby, it seemed clear that the rest of baseball, and many Royals fans, don't think of Billy as a home run threat. The best phrase that I've heard in regards to Billy is that he is a professional hitter. That's higher praise in my mind than being known as a home run hitter.

But therein lies the problem for the Royals - the guy who is the protection in the lineup isn't as feared by other clubs as a home run hitter would be providing protection. So just how much protection does Billy provide the Royals?

As many stats as baseball has, there really isn't a stat that measure how much protection a player provides -but we all know it when we see it.

Starting with the idea that we know it when we see it, most would say that Albert Pujols provides the most protection in a lineup. The two tables below show a comparison between Billy Butler and Albert Pujols for the years 2007-2011.

When people talk about protection they usually say that means the guy hitting in front will see more fastballs and more pitches around the plate. The theory is that the more feared the protection is, the more the opponents want to get the guy out batting before the protection. With better pitches, conventional wisdom suggests there would be a lower strikeout percent, lower walk percent and higher batting average.

How can you gauge the level of protection that Billy and Albert provide for their lineup?

The simple-minded approach is to compare how other players do when they bat in front of the protection and when they don't. The tables below show the batters who have had at least fifty at-bats in front of the protection.

The table is roughly sorted by which players take the biggest advantage of the protection. Generally speaking players do hit for a higher average and have lower walk and strikeout percents.

By this comparison between Billy and Albert, looks like Albert clearly provides more protection judging by how many players do better and how much better they do hitting in front of Albert.

A couple of interesting things to ponder:

  • Guillen's walk percent was higher hitting in front of Billy - suggesting that Guillen was viewed by the opponents as the protection.
  • The worst batting average with protection was Frenchy (seriously dude, how is that possible?)
  • Guys that are good contact hitters and guys who can handle a fastball, improved the most with protection.

Table 1: Butler Protection 2007-2011

Royals

AB

H

Avg

W

W%

K

K%

Aviles
with
123
44
0.3577
 
6
4.9
 
12
9.8
Aviles
w/o
999
284
0.2843
 
45
4.5
 
145
14.5
DeJesus
with
297
100
0.3367
 
27
9.1
 
42
14.1
DeJesus
w/o
1689
484
0.2866
 
168
9.9
 
244
14.4
Cabrera
with
259
84
0.3243
 
12
4.6
 
31
12.0
Cabrera
w/o
381
115
0.3018
 
23
6.0
 
60
15.7
Gordon
with
279
79
0.2832
 
25
9.0
 
63
22.6
Gordon
w/o
1725
457
0.2649
 
204
11.8
 
423
24.5
Guillen
with
253
68
0.2688
 
19
7.5
 
43
17.0
Guillen
w/o
1001
259
0.2587
 
53
5.3
 
192
19.2
Maier
with
158
42
0.2658
 
16
10.1
 
39
24.7
Maier
w/o
708
187
0.2641
 
86
12.1
 
152
21.5
Teahen
with
285
74
0.2596
 
20
7.0
 
61
21.4
Teahen
w/o
1326
369
0.2783
 
118
8.9
 
312
23.5
Bloomquist
with
288
74
0.2569
 
13
4.5
 
47
16.3
Bloomquist
w/o
304
86
0.2829
 
22
7.2
 
51
16.8
Francoeur
with
105
24
0.2286
 
6
5.7
 
20
19.0
Francoeur
w/o
484
146
0.3017
 
31
6.4
 
102
21.1

Table 2: Pujols Protection 2007-2011

Cardinals

AB

H

Avg

W

W%

K

K%

Lopez
with
84
34
0.4048
 
6
7.1
 
8
9.5
Lopez
w/o
438
112
0.2557
 
48
11.0
 
97
22.1
Schumaker
with
75
29
0.3867
 
8
10.7
 
8
10.7
Schumaker
w/o
1948
580
0.2977
 
169
8.7
 
248
12.7
Craig
with
94
33
0.3511
 
7
7.4
 
16
17.0
Craig
w/o
215
58
0.2698
 
17
7.9
 
50
23.3
Miles
with
141
51
0.3617
 
4
2.8
 
13
9.2
Miles
w/o
769
227
0.2952
 
50
6.5
 
77
10.0
Ludwick
with
337
108
0.3205
 
38
11.3
 
75
22.3
Ludwick
w/o
1236
338
0.2735
 
115
9.3
 
301
24.4
Duncan
with
265
73
0.2755
 
30
11.3
 
66
24.9
Duncan
w/o
566
138
0.2438
 
100
17.7
 
168
29.7
Holliday
with
58
20
0.3448
 
6
10.3
 
8
13.8
Holliday
w/o
1191
378
0.3174
 
149
12.5
 
219
18.4
Rasmus
with
498
138
0.2771
 
46
9.2
 
104
20.9
Rasmus
w/o
755
189
0.2503
 
98
13.0
 
212
28.1
Ankiel
with
245
65
0.2653
 
18
7.3
 
58
23.7
Ankiel
w/o
688
177
0.2573
 
63
9.2
 
172
25.0
Jay
with
406
125
0.3079
 
22
5.4
 
73
18.0
Jay
w/o
322
96
0.2981
 
30
9.3
 
57
17.7
Ryan
with
120
28
0.2333
 
6
5.0
 
20
16.7
Ryan
w/o
1050
282
0.2686
 
82
7.8
 
138
13.1

Note: the data was compiled using retrosheet.org event files. This table will vary slightly from official stats due to the focus on batting pairs - specifically at-bats when one of the batters ends the last inning were not included - just enjoy the data for what it is.

(By the way, my apologies to those who never wanted to read another post that included the likes of Guillen, Bloomquist and Ankiel).

This FanPost was written by a member of the Royals Review community. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors and writers of this site.

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