Linkage: Lineup, RBI’s, Workman, Beckett


Who’s genius idea was it to have night games in Spring Training? Sheesh…

Optimizing the Yankees’ lineup

Unless Joe Girardi does something completely crazy, there’s almost no wrong way for him to put his lineup together. He has eight better than league average hitters at his disposable, so there’s really nothing he can do wrong except bat the leftfield first or Alex Rodriguez last. Sky Kalkman took a shot at optimizing the Yanks’ lineup according to The Book, and he ends up with Derek Jeter batting sixth. I don’t know why he thinks Nick Johnson will only play against righties, but his lineup is:

1. Nick Johnson – high OBP
2. Mark Teixiera – high OBP
3. Curtis Granderson - lots of homers & less likely to GIDP
4. Alex Rodriguez – high OBP & SLG, maximize his SB
5. Robinson Canoless likely to GIDP
6. Derek Jeter – maximize his SB
7. Nick Swisher
8. Jorge Posada
9. Brett Gardner

Again, there’s really no wrong lineup, but I wonder how the masses would take it if Girardi ran that lineup out there on Opening Day.

JoPoz on RBI’s

This one’s a few days old, but I finally got around to reading it this morning. The great Joe Posnanski gives his take on one of baseball’s most traditional metrics, the RBI. As you know, the problem with the ol’ run batting in is that it’s so dependent on the rest of your team. You can’t drive anyone in if there’s no one on base in front of you. For example, Joe Mauer came to the plate with 292 men on base last year, and drove in 69 of them, or 23.6%. AL RBI leader Mark Teixeira came to the plate with 420 men on base and drove in 83 of them, or 19.8%. If you gave Mauer the same number of baserunners as Tex last year, he would have had 99 RBI, not counting all the times he drove himself in with the long ball.

Anyway, Posnanski does a much better job of explaining why RBI’s suck than I ever could.

Another look at Brandon Workman

A few weeks ago I highlighted Texas starter Brandon Workman as a player the Yankees could target in June’s amateur draft, and now we get an updated look at him courtesy of Dustin McComas. Workman has apparently worked to add a cutter recently, and there’s a chance he could add a few more miles an hour to a fastball that already touches the mid-90′s by ironing out his mechanics. There’s plenty of high end high school talent in this draft, but if a team with a top 15 or 20 pick doesn’t want to be risky, they could turn to Workman.

As a bonus, we get a look at another Texas starter, righty Taylor Jungmann. He’s expected to be a top five pick in 2011, which means the only way the Yankees will have a chance to get him is if they sign Elijah Dukes and he destroys the clubhouse chemistry.

NoMaas needs your help

The crew over at NoMaas landed the sponsorship for Josh Beckett’s B-Ref page, and needs your help coming up with a snarky message. While you should go over there and give a suggestion, the real reason I posted this is because I want people to post links to their favorite B-Ref sponsorship messages. There’s plenty of great ones out there, but Marvin Benard’s still takes the cake for me: “I loved this guy. He couldn’t hit me with a tree trunk.”

Categories : Links


  1. Thomas says:

    I love Johan Santana’s B-Ref sponsorship. It is funny cause its true.

  2. Steve H says:

    For example, Joe Mauer came to the plate with 292 men on base last year, and drove in 69 of them, or 23.6%.

    This should have been brought to my attention yesterday, when the merits of Mauer were being bashed because he is an underachiever due to his lack of a 30 HR season, a 100 RBI season, or a 100 run season.

    • Fun Facts:

      In 2009, the two batters hitting in front of Joe Mauer in the Twins lineup on May 1st (his first game) were Denard Span (OBP – .392) and Alexi Casilla (.280).
      In 2008, the batter hitting in front of Joe Mauer in the Twins Opening Day lineup was Carlos Gomez (.296)
      In 2007, the two batters hitting in front of Joe Mauer in the Twins Opening Day lineup were Luis Castillo (.356) and Nick Punto (.291).

      That’s three straight years with at least one black hole in the lineup immediately in front of him.

      • Steve H says:

        There were 8 Twins last year with 200+ PA’s and less than 100 OPS+’s, yet it’s Mauer’s fault he didn’t score runs. Seriously. He led the league in OBP by 30 points, and it’s his fault he couldn’t score 100 runs.

        • bexarama says:

          Yeah, that argument was totally ridiculous. You forgot the argument that he should catch, what was it, 150 games, and DH the rest.

          • steve s says:

            I am stunned as to both (Steve H and Bexarama) your reading comprehension and memories. I said between catching and DH, if he were healthy, Mauer should be playing 150 games (not catching 150 games). The point I was making was not that Mauer was an underachiever or that it was his fault that he hasn’t had a 30 HR season, or a season where he scored or driven in 100 runs; rather it was that as great as an offensive player that he is, not hitting any of those numbers yet is a red flag that the guy is having issues staying in the line-up and the Yanks should consider that when/if he ever became available and when thinking about paying him Arod type-money and trading a guy like Jesus for him. Instead of going right for the snarky response you should think for more than 2 seconds before responding or at least read more carefully.

            • bexarama says:

              First, apologies for being snarky. The HR thing, I can see. I don’t think he’s going to have too many 30-HR years, if any at all.

              The RBI and runs scored things were just not a very good argument. He had a bad back at the beginning of last season, was out for about a month, and returned to play a whole bunch of games at probably the most demanding position other than pitcher. He didn’t show signs of wearing down throughout the seasons. The guy had 96 RBI last year. You’re really nitpicking over 4 RBI when at least one of the guys in front of him had an OPS+ of under 100?

              Don’t disagree about being wary about paying him A-Rod money and/or signing him for a gabillion years. However, “well, Jesus Montero (and to a lesser extent Austin Romine) might be awesome” is NOT a reason not to sign the guy.

        • Zack says:

          This topic always reminds me of Mike Pizza’s 2006 season; he had 422 PA hitting 4th, and he he scored 39 runs, yet he hit 22 HRs. So he was knocked in by someone else 17 times over 126 games.

          I always like to bring those numbers up and have someone try to explain to me why it was HIS fault that he was only knocked in 17 times while hitting clean up.

  3. Steve H says:

    I was hoping Kevin Mitchell still had his previous sponsor. I believe it was Dwight Gooden’s cat.

  4. Thomas says:

    David Ortiz’s is quite unique.

    Seriously, WTF.

  5. Rose says:

    3. Curtis Granderson – lots of homers & less likely to GIDP

    Actually, he becomes MORE likely to GIDP with slow pokes like Nick “The Stick” Johnson and Mark “The Spark” Teixeira clogging up the basepaths (while lacking speed) constantly!

    • Spaceman.Spiff says:

      I think he was referring to the fact that Curtis Granderson is less likely to GIDP than a hitter like Jeter or A-Rod, not that Curtis Granderson is less likely to GIDP with slowpokes ahead of him cause that’s obviously not true.

  6. JoPoz:

    We have been conditioned — by MVP votes, by fantasy baseball, by all the stories in newspapers about “productive” hitters, by announcer voices that celebrate the clutch hits — to believe that runs, for the most part, come about because of the hitter who drives them in.

    But it really isn’t so. Take this situation: One out, Rick Manning cracks a line drive single. Duane Kuiper hits a high chopper in front of the plate, he’s out, but Manning takes second. Jim Norris, with first base open and two outs, works for a walk. Manning and Norris move up on a wild pitch. Pitcher works around Andre Thornton, and he walks. Then, with a 3-1 count and the bases loaded, the pitcher has to throw a fastball that catches too much of the plate, and Rico Carty rolls a single between short and third, scoring two runs.

    That’s a fairly typical sequence, I would guess. In our mind and in our statbook, Carty is the hero — two RBIs. He is, in fan and media shorthand, RESPONSIBLE for those runs. But he isn’t. Carty’s single didn’t make those two runs happen. Those two runs scored because of a series of events, and Carty’s single was just the last of those events.

    And this is the point: Teams don’t score runs because they have uniquely talented RBI men. Teams score runs because more often than their opponents, they put together a string of useful offensive plays — walks, hits, stolen bases, hit-by-pitch, beating out double play grounders, taking extra bases, advancing on throws , on and on and on. That, most of the time, is what lead to runs…


    So, my point is, that people have through the years counted RBIs and celebrated RBIs and given too much credit to to the men who knock them in. And, as a result, many people have come to determine that RBI men are the most valuable part of an offense. That’s the circular thinking we have here.

    Well, I have been bouncing around this topic for a long time, never quite getting to the heart of things. And it wasn’t until I read the following sentence from Bill that it all snapped into place for me:

    If you add a low-average power hitter to a bad team, the low average power hitter will lead the team in RBI — and the team will score fewer runs, not more.

    Posnanski (and Bill James) FTMFW.

    • DerMegalodonster says:

      Several things struck me about the extracts you chose (will read the link at a later time). First, though, I commend anyone who seeks to understand the symbiotic relationships in the game of baseball. This symbiosis should be the end of sabermetrics… there is a beauty in it as there is in nature.

      RBI percentages & ratios are clearly superior to RBI totals but clearly RBI’s are important and just as clearly there are certain players that are better at producing RBI’s. Do we tend to overate RBI guys? Yeah, I can accept that but I think that some protest too much and assume too much. For instance, as when he maintains his example is “a fairly typical sequence” (understanding that he does qualify it) I would assert that more often (even significantly so) the RBI is due to a quality hitter scorching the ball. Dependent upon the preceding sequence of events? Yes, but it is still the quality hitter who is going to be capitalizing on the events and hence, accruing RBI‘s.

      To me, the most significant point that you extracted (and the most important for a theoretical starting point) was the last. “If you add a low-average power hitter to a bad team, the low average power hitter will lead the team in RBI — and the team will score fewer runs, not more.” I concur. But what’s the correlative? If a low-average power hitter was on a good team (high OBP team) would he merely look good? I say yes (relatively speaking of course). I maintain there is a reason that favorite sabermetric-Chippendale Adam Dunn does not even average 100 RBI’s per 162 games played in SPITE of averaging 40 HR/29 DB (pathetic) and that it has LESS to do with how many RBI opportunities he had than with his low batting average. This appears to be born out by a look at the top 100 leaders in RBI per AB ratio, wherein their collective average is somewhere around 290 and, further, the collective average descends generally from group to group from top to bottom.

      Thankfully, our manager has a better grasp on the symbiosis’s of the game as were revealed (for our purposes here) most recently in his reasons for batting Cano 5th (which were in accord with what he has said in the past few years of interviews)… batting average matters, much more so than the typical sabermetrician understands.

  7. Steve H says:

    This isn’t funny or witty or anything, but I definitely enjoy it.

  8. Rose says:

    I feel I’m missing something here. Why is everybody posting statistics of severely random players?


    Wait, it’s NOT sponsored by the estate of Pablo Escobar? I’m shocked.

  10. bexarama says: (sfw)

    Looking at NoMaas’ comments, I enjoy the ones that are “The best postseason pitcher ever, until he wasn’t” and “At least he’s not Curt Schilling.”

  11. Rose says:

    “It’s all about the moustache!”

  12. Jamal G. says:

    Optimizing the Yankees’ lineup

    The Book says to place one of the two of your forth- or -fifth-best hitters whose value relies mainly in his power output third; Nick Swisher fits that scenario the best if you see Curtis Granderson as the Yankees’ fifth-best hitter – which I do.

    Derek Jeter acts as the second lead-off man (sixth), and the rest of the lineup should be determined by which you think is the lesser of two evils: having three left-handed hitters in a row – Cano, Gardner and Johnson – or putting the speed (1.6 Molinas, last I checked) of Jorge Posada behind the noodle-bat of Brett Gardner and the average power of Nick Johnson.

    Neither is really a major detriment because if you want to create a Cano-Posada-Gardner lineup at the bottom, you have an average power hitter in Johnson just one spot after Gardner (not to mention the elite power-hitting Teixeira just two spots after Gardner). Also, if you want hit Posada-Cano-Gardner at the bottom, Cano and Johnson have shown that they suffer not versus southpaws in the majors, and Gardner has not shown a major split versus southpaws throughout his professional career.

    Personally, I would split up the three lefties and order the lineup as so:

    Johnson (L)
    Teixeira (S)
    Swisher (S)
    Rodriguez ( R)
    Granderson (L)
    Jeter ( R)
    Cano (L)
    Posada (S)
    Gardner (L)

    • bexarama says:

      I am highly amused that this comment section is mostly a bunch of people giggling over the entertaining BB-Ref sponsorships, with this really insightful comment right in the middle. Heh.

      Posada batting eighth, I feel sorry for the rest of the American League…

  13. Rose says:

    Cracking up at this one…how this isn’t higher on that list is beyond me…

  14. bexarama says:

    hilariously overblown, probably sponsored by Halos Heaven:

    wasn’t the sponsorship on Mark Teixeira in the early offseason between 2008 and 2009 “(sponsor) can’t wait for my Christmas wish to come true: Mark Teixeira on the Red Sox!” Heh heh heh.

  15. Thomas says:

    It since has been changed, but I remember Matt Williams used to say something like “If it wasn’t for the strike Matt Williams would have broken Maris’ record and all without steroids.”

  16. Steve H says:

    If you remember this guys crazy stance, you’ll appreciate it.

  17. bexarama says:

    this one made me laugh the other day:

    NYY without Steinbrenner = 20 World Series rings, still comfortably the most

  18. JGS says:

    How has no one sponsored the John Rocker page yet?

  19. JGS says:

    If someone wants to pick up the Moe Berg page, “spoke seven languages and couldn’t hit in any of them” is a nice byline for it

  20. Drew says:

    It’s probably not appropriate at BBRef but I read this over in the NoMaas comments and thoroughly enjoyed it.

    “Josh Beckett: At least he’s not Dustin Pedroia’s brother.”

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