It is not an awful idea, the pitcher is an automatic out anyway, so why not have one extra guy hitting in front of your four best hitters rather than pitcher making an out in front of them 90% of the time.
"I do not think baseball of today is any better than it was 30 years ago... I still think Radbourne is the greatest of the pitchers." John Sullivan 1914-Old athletes never change.
cards05 wrote:Doug Melvin was just on the radio here in St. Louis and he said that they took notice of what LaRussa was doing last year because basically, when Tony LaRussa does something like that, he's usually got a good reason. They then brought in their numbers department to see if there was any merit to it. After running the numbers, they estimated that with Kendall batting ninth, they'd score 30 more runs this year. It's good to see more progressive thinking in baseball these days. Kudos to the Brewers. As I've said before, I'm guessing a team will abandon the whole "closer" role within a couple of years.
Well, lots of teams have tried to abandon the whole closer role thing. They called it "closer by committee", and generally those were a spectacular failure. Though, the teams that usually take this approach just have a bunch of crappy relievers and don't know what to do with them anyway.
I'm not really against having a closer spot, I just wish managers would be a little more flexible than "Only bring the closer in for the 9th." Very often, a team's 3-4-5 hitters come up in the 8th, and yet the team throws out its 2nd or 3rd best reliever. Silliness I say.
That's what I was referring to. Basically teams will start using their best reliever when the situation calls for it rather than exclusively in the 9th inning.
is an interesting site referenced in one of the previous articles
I played around with it using some very rough projections for Mil players, and all of the best lineups had the Pitcher batting 8th. Of course the 2-3 slots came out kind of strange...
That site also says that hitting Fielder 2nd is the best lineup. Nice one. How can you propose setting a lineup without taking into consideration homeruns or speed? 2 guys with the same OBP and slugging percentage can be very different. One with alot of triples and doubles, few walks and has some speed and the other with alot of walks, low batting average and high HR totals. Obvioulsy those 2 are very different hitters but would be no different on that website. The only things that really matter in lineups are that you don't have a slow guy infront of a fast guy taking away his speed, that you have your best OBP guys infront of your HR hitters so that the HRs count for more, and that you don't have a crappy hitter behind your better hitters so that they can walk your good hitters. Unless the pitcher is a guy that has some power it is stupid hitting him 8th, taking away the bat from a guy like Hardy or Hall and ending early game rallies one hitter earlier all so you can have Kendall on a few times ahead of Weeks. They'd be better off having Kendall extend the previous inning for the pitcher to get up so that the leadoff guy can leadoff the inning. Obviously the leadoff guy leading off is the best case scenario or else they wouldn't set their lineup that way.
There are two basic rules to constructing a good lineup.
1) Better hitters bat higher in the order. This doesn't generally matter for the pitcher slot because of pinch hitting. Batting the pitcher 8th instead of 9th probably increases their PA by like 5-10 at most. Most slots it is by 30.
2) High OBP guys in front of high SLG guys. Batting the pitcher 8th here allows you to slot a high OBP guy 9th which is in front of higher SLG guys at the top of the order.
If you were to design the perfect lineup for the Brewers you would probably have Fielder batting 2nd or maybe 3rd, certainly not 4th where he actually bats because it wastes his OBP. You would have Braun batting 4th or 5th where his lower OBP doesn't hurt you but the high SLG helps you. Kendall would bat 9th and the pitcher would bat 8th.
There is a guy who has tracked every single AB with Kendall 9th so far this year in the game threads at http://blogs.jsonline.com/brewers/default.aspx. He simply rates each AB as good that Kendall batted 9th, bad that he batted 9th or indifferent, So far the net result is +6 in favor of the good that he batted 9th.
Not sure if anyone has mentioned this but Yost's main reason for putting Kendall 9th is to take him out of double-play possibilites. He led the league in dp's not too far back and Yost wants to avoid that situation. His thinking is that Kendall will have more AB's either leading off or following a pitcher's sac bunt, therefore lowering his AB's with double play chances. This argument is more towards Larussa's reasoning.
Yost eventually tossed that idea aside, but still liked Kendall in the nine-hole because he is an extreme ground-ball hitter. The thinking goes, with a runner on base, the pitcher can bunt him over to take Kendall out of a double-play situation. If the pitcher makes the final out of the inning, you still have a high-on-base guy leading off the next frame.
Kendall led the Majors with 27 double-play groundouts in 2005. The Brewers, with what is expected to be a high-octane offense, want to avoid that kind of number this season.
"You eliminate half of those double plays, that gives you 15 more run-scoring opportunities right there," Yost said. "We just thought we had more of a chance to score runs with him in the ninth instead of the eighth. So far it's worked out right."