If you haven't started playing with the lineup computer over at Baseball Musings, then you should. Using some standard sabermetric theories, including advancements by our own Beyond the Boxscore the lineup toy continues to amuse. Well, if anything involving the Royals could amuse.
Using their 2006 PECOTA Projections, heres the best lineup according to the toy when Minky plays first and Stairs sits:
As noted by Pinto, the system seems to favor a lineup that spreads out the dead weight, which seems to inform that middle of the lineup that bats Teahen amd Buck ahead of Emil. Still, the best possible con-Minky lineup averages 4.337 runs per game.
The interesting thing is, with all these umm, not-great players, the Royals can flip things around quite a bit without being much worse. In fact, the second best lineup bats Teahen third, throws Grudz to 7th and puts Brown 5th.
Seriously, play with this thing NOW!
The worst lineup on the days Minky plays?
How about a Buck-Berroa-Brown-Minky-Grudz-DeJesus-TEahen-Sweeney-Sanders lineup? Scary. Of course, as you true believers will note, in simulations like this what is continually found is that the lineup order doesn't really matter at all... That Godawful Buck-Berroa lineup still manages 4.061 runs per.
What about those days when Stairs and Sweeney both play and Minky sits?
Getting Stairs in there makes a big difference obviously, as one of the lineup's worst hitters is replaced by one of its best. Here's the optimum con-Stairs, sans-Minky lineup:
That lineup cranks out 4.422 per game. Interestingly, while they couldn't be much more different in most ways, in terms of their OBP and SLG, DeJesus and Stairs are actually fairly similar, thus the 7th best lineup switches David and Matt, with Stairs leading off and DeJesus in the 5 hole.
Again, start playing with this thing now. I dare you to only be on the site for 10 minutes.
The worst Stairs' including lineup? Again, a heavy dose of John Buck is prominent.
What, pray tell, about those horrible days when Bako and Minky play? What should Buddisimo do???
Nothing like putting a dude who's projected to SLG .327 into the lineup to muck everything up. Heres the best with Bako
That lineup, the best case scenario, manages 4.293a game. Basically, Angel Berroa should NEVER LEAVE the number 8 slot. Ever.
The Worst lineup with Bako & Minky (Attorneys at Horribleness):
That bit of awfulness scores 3.989.
Here's what Pinto had to say:
A few years ago when I was working at UMass, someone at our lab pointed out an article that analyzed lineups using Markov chains. It showed the pitcher should bat eighth. I had a very tough time believing that, until I sat down with pencil and paper and found you really didn't lose that much giving the pitcher those extra at bats, a few runs at most. It took a while, but I got my head around the idea of a second leadoff hitter in the nine hole. So it's easier for me to deal with a poor hitter in the three spot.What is so, so, so sad is knowing that Buddisimo is a dyed in the wool old-school guy. Someone who's alot closer to batting Berroa first or second than batting Sweeney or Stairs second. What makes one feel better however, is that the gains or losses of a particular lineup are so marginal that random factors will usually override everything else.
Here's what I think is going on. There really are two lineups here. The 9-1-2 section of the order is the killer OBA guys. The 4-5-6-7 are the boppers. Three and eight are the easy outs, separated so the opposing pitcher doesn't get any easy stretches.
One and two get on base a lot, so hitter four almost always bats in the first inning. If he doesn't, he's also a good OBA guy so he's good at leading off the second inning. When the lineup turns over, you have the extra good OBA in front of the first two hitters. Since these two also have decent power, number nine is a new table setter. It would be very interesting to see if #9 and #4 led off a lot of innings, since you would expect #3 and #8 to make the third out when they get the opportunity. If that were to be true, the two lineup idea would be absolutely brilliant. At the two places you're most likely to run into the third out, at leadoff man is coming up next.