Nationals Baseball: Hey I was brought up!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Hey I was brought up!

as smart even! (Well, I guess just smarter than Adam thinks he is. Let's assume he thinks he's a genius.)

At quick glance, I don't see anything really wrong with Adam's math. I guess he should use Ankiel's OBP against righties if he's making the platoon assumption but given the small percentage difference between that stat (about .315) and what Adam used (.298) and the small difference in at bats we're looking at (about what, a little more than 5%?) I don't think you'll see a difference of more than a couple outs, if that.

To be completely picky the question was:

How many outs will the Nationals save by Ankiel hitting sixth instead of second?

Assuming that they just moved Werth-Zimmerman-LaRoche-Morse up one spot each then you'd have to figure each ones increase in outs made (with more at bats) and then figure in that 25 saved by moving Ankiel. Off the top of my head I'd guess it'll probably be real minor change , maybe a couple outs for each one. So you're still probably looking at 15-20 outs saved by the move.

(I could also argue a better lineup means more plate appearances across the board - so that should be scaled up, but really what? 5 more at bats? 10? It's not going to matter)


DSK said...

Batting one your top hitters (particularly OBP) at No. 2 is a strategy recommended by the Book (Tango, Lichtman, Dolphin) to maximize the batting order (to the extent that the batting order, they posit, will make a difference).

Donald said...

So what do you think of this order:
1) Espinosa
2) Desmond
3) Zimmerman

Donald said...

4) Morse
5) Werth
6) LaRoche
7) Ramos
8) Ankiel

It seems like there's a decent bat through the whole line-up.

Anonymous said...

I give them credit for going with Werth in the #2 hole, even though it could be easily criticized given his contract. I also think it is a good move strategically, although I have to agree with you that the impact isn't going to be significant. I think that I would try Espy at leadoff. It is going to be an ongoing experiment this year, me thinks.

By and large, I give Rizzo a good grade for his offseason (on results, not media management; still not sure what he was thinking with that 'we are getting a #1 starter' comment). I really like the Gaudin signing, and Nix is a quality guy to have on the bench and occasional starter. Hairston is ok, although I don't quite get the love he seems to enjoy. It is one thing to say that he can play multiple positions, but doesn't it kind of imply that you can play them passably well, and that you'll hit enough to not be embarrassing?

I fault him for the contracts he gave Ankiel and Coffey, though. When you give those guys $1.5m guaranteed, they are on the team (at least this team), and Ankiel, Bernie, Nix, and Stairs essentially offer this team the same things (or some combination of the same things). And you still don't really have someone who can play CF for a long time (or hit RH).

But Coffey is a bigger mistake. I don't think that he is as bad as he has looked, but he wouldn't make this team if you ignored his contract. They essentially had 3 open spots coming into camp (assuming Storen, Clip, Burnett and Slaten are in). You need a long reliever/spot starter (Gaudin/Stammen), so you are down to two. You have out of option guys like HRod and Rule 5 like Ramirez and Broderick, plus guys who genuinely contributed in the past and have higher upside like Balestar, Stammen, even Kimball. There is just no reason to give a mediocre guy a contract that heavily biases him on to the team.

If Rizzo ignores the contract and cuts him (or better yet, finds a trading partner), I take it all back. Don't see that happening

Brent said...

Ummm... I think Adam is asking the wrong question. The team doesn't save any outs by batting Ankiel sixth instead of second. A team gets to use 27 outs, regardless of whether its OBP is .400 or .200. (There's a little bit of variation depending on how many extra inning games were played and how often they're ahead at home in the ninth inning, but over a season, team outs per game played are pretty much 27 plus or minus a little random noise.) So any outs that Ankiel doesn't make will ultimately be made by another Nationals player.

The question that Adam should have asked is, "How many more baserunners will the Nationals get by batting Ankiel sixth instead of second? I would solve that problem in four steps.

1) Ankiel drops from 477 to 440 plate appearances. With a .298 OBP, that translates translates to 26 fewer outs and 11 fewer times on base.

2) Werth, by moving from fourth to second, adds about 18 plate appearances. With a .380 OBP (based on the last two seasons), that results in about 6.8 more times on base and 11.2 more outs. LaRoche moving from fifth to fourth, adds about 10 plate appearances; with a .338 OBP, that results in 3.4 more times on base and 6.6 more outs. Morse moves from sixth to fifth, adding about 9 plate appearances; with a .342 OBP, that results in 3.1 more times on base and 5.9 more walks.

3) Add up the net effects of moving Ankiel, Werth, LaRoche, and Morse. I calculate 6.8 + 3.4 + 3.1 - 11.0 = 2.3 more times on base and 11.2 + 6.6 + 5.9 - 26.0 = -2.3 fewer outs.

4) What happens to the 2.3 outs? They get used by the rest of the team. Assuming a .327 team OBP, the extra 2.3 outs lead to 3.4 additional plate appearances and 1.1 additional batters reaching base. So the net effect of making these batting order changes is 2.3 + 1.1 = 3.4 additional batters reaching base, and one (or possibly two) additional runs scored.

All of the sabermetricians who've written that batting order isn't worth worrying about were right.

Brent said...

By the way, if we also assume that moving Werth from fourth to second also means moving Hairston from second to sixth (or seventh?) in games against lefties, then the net effect of what I just posted should be increased about 50 percent. We're still talking at most two runs over the season.

Harper said...

Donald - it's ok, you probably want Ankiel to bat before Ramos.

Anon - Ankiel signing was allright - until the found Nix for cheaper. Coffey? Eh. I see your points. I guess the condition is how well does Rizzo know his manager and owner. 1.5 million and veteran status shouldn't be enough to keep marginal players on teams anymore, but if his owner (because of the cash) and manager (because of the veteraness) are going to be inclined to play them then it's a much bigger risk to sign them. They better be good.

Brent - this is why I shouldn't do anything off the top of my head. Yea - "making more outs" isn't the right way of thinking about it but as you showed it's really figuring out the same thing. The big thing is I underestimated the outs created (or overestimated the runs created) by moving the other guys up one. While optimal it really is just statistical noise.

Do you worry about that? Depends. I'm more of a "good enough" kind of guy, but if you're a team don't you try to get everadvantage you can?