I recently read Optimizing Your Lineup By The Book on the SBN blog Beyond the Box Score. In brief, it contrasts traditional baseball notions and statistical driven approaches to the batting order. The article draws heavily on The Book, as it breaks down each spot in the lineup. Rather than attempting a more detailed synopsis, I'll just recommend you read the article itself, as the rest of my post will rely heavily (though not entirely) on it's analyses.
After reading the article, I decided to construct an idealized lineup for the Rockies. I started by looking at the OBP and SLG for each potential starting position player. Granted, this is a rather limited inquiry, but from a plain reading of the article, other statistics didn't seem very crucial. I looked at both career OBP and SLG as well as the 3 year averages for each player. For Ian Stewart and Carlos Gonzalez, I also looked up their career OBP and SLG in the minors, due to small major league samples. Dexter Fowler has put up crazy numbers in the minors (.394/.452), but his September callup (.185/.154) shows he needs some more development. Also, with Seth Smith and Matt Murton, I focused on their LHP/RHP splits, since I buy into a Meth Smirton platoon in LF. I ranked everybody by OBP in descending order and ended up with (3 year averages in parentheses):
Helton .428/.574 (.414/.464)
Smith .366/.466 (.363/.448) v. RHP .395/.514
Hawpe .375/.493 (.384/.515)
Murton .354/.438 (.346/.422) v. LHP .382/.484
Spilborghs .374/.466 (.375/.466)
Stewart .337/.443 (.339/.454) minors: .373/.524
Iannetta .368/.440 (.368/.440)
Atkins .360/.474 (.368/.498)
Tulowitzki .346/.435 (.346/.435)
Gonzalez .273/.361 (.267/.351) minors: .340/.473
Podsednik .337/.374 (.332/.356)
Baker .319/.468 (.316/.473)
Barmes .301/.405 (.287/.389)
With these numbers in mind, the three best everyday players--based on OBP--are Helton, Hawpe and Spilborghs. The other thing that is painfully clear is that Ian Stewart needs to be in the lineup. For my purposes, I put Stewie at 2B. Using these numbers alone--particularly SLG, Atkins might appear to be better than CDI, but I give the slight edge to Dreamy because Atkins power has been trending down the last three seasons (.556, .486, and .452). Based on my interpretation of the numbers and the framework from the article, I constructed these two lineups:
Yeah, I realize Jason Marquis can't pitch everyday, but I put his name down because these are idealized lineups and Marquis is the best hitting pitcher the Rockies have had since Jason Jennings.
These lineups look a little strange even to me. Hawpe hitting cleanup? Atkins and Tulo at the bottom of the order? Four lefties in a row? My own discomfort is probably based on two factors. First, I focused on OBP far more than SLG. Jeff Baker would argue that his .473 SLG more than makes up for a lower OBP. Second, I was raised by a baseball purist (but not elitist), and the traditional notions about the batting order still have some sway on my psyche.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed this meaningless little exercise. It's always fun to dig into baseball statistics, and it's made me more comfortable with a few things about the roster. Spilly will be a solid leadoff hitter. Smith and Murton will be a dynamite combo in LF. This is great news, not only for the Rockies offense, but also for the studs that are developing. Dex and CarGon (or G-Gon, as I've heard he wants to be called) will be able to get their work in at AAA without pressure to produce immediately at the major league level. These players might not enjoy being 'relegated' to the Springs, but in the long run, the additional development will pay off.
So what do you think? Am I way off on the Rockies ideal lineups? Did I use a flawed methodology? Does Jeff Baker deserve to be the starting 2B??? Sound off!!!