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Plugging the 2011 Red Sox Into a Lineup Simulator

Posted by Neil Paine on December 9, 2010

After the news broke that Boston had signed Carl Crawford, I plugged their projected lineup (via MLBDepthCharts.com) into Baseball Musings' lineup simulator, using each player's OBP/SLG over the past 3 seasons. The result? This lineup...

1 CF Jacoby Ellsbury (0.339/0.395)
2 2B Dustin Pedroia (0.372/0.475)
3 LF Carl Crawford (0.349/0.454)
4 1B Adrian Gonzalez (0.387/0.523)
5 3B Kevin Youkilis (0.404/0.560)
6 DH David Ortiz (0.356/0.498)
7 RF J.D. Drew (0.379/0.495)
8 C Jarrod Saltalamacchia (0.317/0.364)
9 SS Marco Scutaro (0.351/0.385)

...would be expected to score 5.675 RPG.

The simulator also suggested the best Red Sox lineup for 2011 would be:

1 RF J.D. Drew (0.379/0.495)
2 3B Kevin Youkilis (0.404/0.560)
3 DH David Ortiz (0.356/0.498)
4 1B Adrian Gonzalez (0.387/0.523)
5 2B Dustin Pedroia (0.372/0.475)
6 C Jarrod Saltalamacchia (0.317/0.364)
7 CF Jacoby Ellsbury (0.339/0.395)
8 LF Carl Crawford (0.349/0.454)
9 SS Marco Scutaro (0.351/0.385)

Which would expect to score 5.754 RPG.

Obviously, this doesn't account for baserunning, injuries, aging, park effects for Crawford/Gonzalez, and a whole host of other variables. But Boston has definitely assembled what should be a potent offensive team next season.

This entry was posted on Thursday, December 9th, 2010 at 2:49 pm and is filed under Bloops, Sabermetrics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

30 Responses to “Plugging the 2011 Red Sox Into a Lineup Simulator”

  1. Neil -- Very interesting. I notice that the simulator's optimal lineup has the worst overall hitter in the #6 spot. Do you think there's any clear rationale for that? -- or just a fluke of how the simulations played out?

    Regarding the first lineup shown above, has Francona or anyone stated that they plan to bad Crawford #3? He seems ill-suited for that job, both in theory and in practice -- he has started 195 games hitting 3rd and has a .338 OBP, .790 OPS and 107 RBI, equivalent to 89 RBI in 162 starts.

  2. Adrian Gonzalez may drive in 150 to 160 runs with those three in front of him. That lineup is ridiciulous.

  3. I expect Jed Lowrie to emerge as the starting SS next year.

  4. "Adrian Gonzalez may drive in 150 to 160 runs with those three in front of him. That lineup is ridiciulous."

    Gonzalez is a beast, but let's not be ridiculous.

    I think the Sox best lineup would be:
    Pedroia
    Crawford
    Youkilis
    Gonzalez
    Ortiz
    Drew
    Salty
    Scutaro
    Ellsbury

  5. Hey Joe, I agree with you 100%. Rumors are also circulating with the idea of moving Scutaro for relief pitching.

    Then once Iglesias comes up next year Lowrie will turn into one of the best utility guys in the league.

  6. I would ship Papelbon (and why not Scutaro as well!) to Philly for Jimmy Rollins, and make Daniel Bard my new closer...

  7. @6 -- Was that tongue-in-check? I wouldn't trade Scutaro for Rollins straight-up.

    Scutaro's been the better player -- on offense and all-around -- over the last 2 seasons. Rollins has a .304 OBP in that span.

  8. @7: The idea here is to also free up "some" money. Not a "baseball" trade per se... Then again, the BoSox have, it seems, a bottomless pit of cash... :/

  9. "Then again, the BoSox have, it seems, a bottomless pit of cash... :/"

    As a diehard Red Sox fan, I'm asking all Red Sox fans to stop grousing about the Yankees buying championships. This week the Red Sox have committed almost $300 million to two players! The metamorphasis is complete. To paraphrase Darth Vader, "This Red Sox Death Star is fully operational!" I hope Bud Selig stops trying to convince us about parity in baseball!

  10. Injuries may be a problem, while Big Papi's bat is prone to do one of those sudden slow-downs (about to happen to erstwhile Red Sox hitting machine and push-down bully Manny Ramirez). Also, hope the pitching does its job, though the setup crew looks to maintain from last season.

  11. @9:"As a diehard Red Sox fan, I'm asking all Red Sox fans to stop grousing about the Yankees buying championships. This week the Red Sox have committed almost $300 million to two players! The metamorphasis is complete. To paraphrase Darth Vader, "This Red Sox Death Star is fully operational!" I hope Bud Selig stops trying to convince us about parity in baseball!"

    They also have about $50 million coming off the books next season. So they can afford to do so.

    Papelbon $10M
    Cameron $7.25M
    Ortiz $12.5M
    Drew $14M
    Scutaro $5M
    Wakefield $1.5M
    Varitek $2M

    All will be gone by the beginning of 2012.

  12. Can you do this for other teams?

  13. Mike

    you are doing generalized math.....add up what a star outfielder is going to cost any team over 20 years why dont you?

    200 million? at the very least?

    "oh my god the (fill in the blank team) just spent 200 million on the right field position for the last 20 years!"

    Here let me do some correct math for you.

    Julio Lugo and Mike Lowell come off the books (9.5 million and 12.5 million respectively).....

    We gain 23 million from Lugo and Lowell off the books.....we sign a player Crawford for 20 million a year! Wow we saved 3 million dollars!

    We lose Beltre and Victor Martinez to free agency and the total there is about 25 million dollars a year that is off the payroll so we add Adrian Gonzalez for 22 million dollars a year....and save another 3 million or so dollars!

    We have Salty and Varitek signed on the cheap and are saving a bunch at the catcher postion

    Next year Drew, Cameron and Ortiz come off the books as Leonard said and thats another 34 million dollars off the books!

    This is simple longterm addition and subtraction and your not getting it because Theo is balancing the books with upgraded players and ridding the payroll of retiring/unproductive/aging players....

    We arent the Yankees because they just add and add and add with no regard.....Theo adds and subtracts where needed.

  14. Random Sports Guy Says:

    Boston still sucks.

  15. Johnny Twisto Says:

    We arent the Yankees because they just add and add and add with no regard.

    Really? Seems to me their payroll has stayed pretty steady at about $200M over the past few years, while the rest of MLB adds and adds and adds.

  16. What's the greatest offensive team ever (runs per game)? Murderer's row?

  17. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Still no team leaders on this site!

    The 1894 Braves scored 9.2 runs per game (in a league that scored 7.4). (That's the team for whom Hugh Duffy batted .440.)

    The 1931 Yankees, still boasting most of Murderers' Row, scored 6.9 runs per game, in a league that averaged 5.1.

  18. I did the same thing yesterday at my blog -- 2010 stats for everyone except Ellsbury, Lowrie, and Saltalamacchia, for whom I used career totals since their games played last year were low.

    The best lineup -- scoring roughly 5.88 runs per game -- would start with Youkilis/Gonzalez or Gonzalez/Youkilis in the top spots, Ortiz at #4, Salty and Ellsbury at the bottom, and the other spots picked out of a hat.

    Interesting that the worst possible lineup would score 5.51 runs per game. That is a drop of 60 runs per game over a 162-game season, a difference of about (only?) six wins. Since Francona will not pencil in the best or worst of these lineups, how much of a real difference could a minor difference in his lineups make in 2011? 1 or 2 wins?

  19. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Right. Which is why any reasonable lineup is acceptable, and if players have a specific desire or aversion to batting in a certain spot, it's probably more valuable to keep them happy. (And not bat three lefties in a row, like the lineup in #4.)

  20. Can any dWAR experts out there comment on how Fenway might affect Crawford's defensive value, which so far has averaged a little under 1 WAR per season?

    On the surface, I would assume that a LF ball-hawk of Crawford's ability would have much less impact in Fenway.

    But I question my assumptions when I see that Yaz averaged almost 2 dWAR over a 6-year span as a LF (1966-71). Then again, a lot of that value may have come from high assists totals, which is not something we would expect from Crawford.

  21. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    #17/ Ellis Says: "What's the greatest offensive team ever (runs per game)? Murderer's row?"

    I think that instead of using runs/game, which would favor teams in high-scoring eras, we could:
    1) use the % a team is better than league-average runs/game
    2) how strong a team is up and down the whole lineup

    I recall flipping through the 2007 "Total Baseball" encyclopedia (Pete Palmer), and noticing several of the Murderer's Row teams standing out in "batting wins", including 1932, 1936, 1931 and (of course) 1927 (sorry, I'm not sure how to look up batting wins for teams on this site), also the 1953 Dodgers.

    #2 would apply to teams that don't have the very highest numerical totals, but have NO holes in their batting order at all, such as the 1975-76 Reds, and the 2003-04 Red Sox. It might be more useful to analyze teams over two/three year periods, as a team can benefit from a fluke year or two from players in the batting order.

  22. Interestingly enough, if you do the same thing with last year's team*, an optimal lineup scores 5.794 R/G.

    *Like this:
    1 2B Pedroia
    2 1B Youkilis
    3 DH Ortiz
    4 RF Drew
    5 C V-Mart
    6 CF Cameron
    7 LF Ellsbury
    8 3B Beltre
    9 SS Scutaro

    Just shows how much injuries can kill you.

  23. @11 @13 Please stop trying to defend the Sox as if they're the Pirates. Yes, the Yankees have the highest payroll, but the Sox are often 2nd and if not 2nd very close to 2nd.

    The Sox may be closer to the team behind them in payroll but they're not a bunch of Average Joes out there working on a shoestring budget. The days where you could greatly contrast Yankees' spending and Sox' spending have been over for a while. While the Yanks will always be the biggest spenders and most easily able to swallow a bad contract, the Sox aren't too far behind. And the "oh we just removed money from the payroll so we really saved money" argument is bogus. When you pay a player a ton of money for a ton of years your payroll naturally must go up in the years following as you have to pay young studs that produce more and sign later free agents to be competitive while you have less flexibility in moving players that landed big contracts. Unless, of course, you hit the lottery every year with your draft picks, but no one can do that. Anyway, you end up being an formerly good, formerly up-and-coming team that actually has to do a rebuild. The Sox--like the Yanks--don't do rebuilds anymore. Sox don't have to do a rebuild because a half-dozen players make eight figures. And that's precisely what makes the Sox like the Yanks. It's most of the other teams out there that have to make hard, hard choices and not do things like sign Lackey to a lengthy contract, give Beckett an extension, exercise a $12.5m option on an aging DH, then go out and commit $40m a season on two players for the next 7 seasons.

    It's amazing how every fan base has this thing they hold onto whether it's true or not. For Sox fans it's the idea that the Sox are somehow more like the other baseball teams than the Yankees. Yes, the Yankees have the deepest pockets and often address issues via free agency. That the Sox don't have pockets as deep as the Yanks is a relative comparison; their pockets are still deep and like most every competitive team with an advantage in resources, they utilize them.

    That's the other thing. I don't get how people still buy into that "doing things the right way," nonsense that the old-timers spew out when talking about teams like Tampa Bay. You have the resources to acquire players, you do so. Is it nice to develop a homegrown player? Sure. But nothing makes the fans happier than winning. No one should feel bad because their team has more resources and is utilizing them.

  24. Um, pretend like a person not fluent in English wrote that second paragraph.

  25. @ #23

    The Pirates shouldn't be defended. They aren't a ML ballclub. There needs to be a salary cap in MLB-------as well as a FLOOR to spending. IMO, if you can't spend X-amount of dollars, you're NOT a big league club. As far as being MAJOR League---------the Yankees' behavior requires far less defending than the Pirates'.... JMO.

  26. @ #23

    The Red Sox are NOT 'more like the Yankees' than they are other clubs in MLB. The Yankees are ALONE in what they are. The Red Sox are, IMO, uniquely ALONE------neither 'same thing as the Yanks', nor 'same thing as anyone else'-------in what THEY are.

    When FA hits, it's like a kill on the Serengeti (sp?)... the LIONS are the Yankees. Boston is the 2nd most formidable diner on the carcass that is the 'players available'--------perhaps a LEOPARD or HYENA--------but they can't outmuscle the lion for anything.

    In order for the leopard to come away with something from the kill------they have to slip it past the lion. Maybe the lion is sleeping... or full... or distracted. The leopard cannot go in there in broad daylight and take.

    The Red Sox are Jack to the Yankees' giant. Maybe Boston has the resources to get up the beanstalk like nobody else--------but they still have to SNEAK the goose that lays the golden eggs past a sleeping giant. They can't announce they're coming, waltz in there and TAKE the goose.

    The Red Sox cannot be in direct competition for any one player that both teams truly covet------and beat the Yankees to him. ONLY if the Yankees are sleeping can this happen... and only if the Red Sox are stealth and quick about it. The A-Rod negotiations stalled with Boston------the Yanks swept in and gobbled him up. Teixeira negotiations stalled-----and ditto. The Red Sox got Manny only because the Yankees didn't want him OR because the Yankees were distracted with MUSSINA. The Red Sox snuck Curt Schilling past the Yankees only because they snuck out to Arizona on Thanksgiving and had him signed before anyone knew they went------and the Yankees were preoccupied with Javier Vasquez. Boston got A-Gone solely because the Yankees have no spot for him (yeah, I know it was a trade-----so that might have helped Boston even if the Yanks wanted him).... the Red Sox got Carl Crawford because the Yankees have been laser-locked on Cliff Lee.... and they did the Crawford thing QUICK-------no snags that would allow the Yankees to wake up from their Cliff Lee stupor and do something about it.

    The Red Sox are a clear #2 at the kill..... but they are NOT the lion.

  27. Johnny Twisto Says:

    There is a salary floor, it's $10M.

  28. @ 26

    I don't like your analogy. Firstly, as far as I can remember, it is the lionesses that do the hunting together as a group in their territory.

    A proper way to look at the Yanks, Sox, and other teams would be to imagine a national park that protects all its animals, and in that park are a number of separate prides of lions (say 30), and that none of the other predators in the park would ever try to separate a lion from its kill. In that example, most of the other prides have territories that are not coterminous with the boundaries of the park (whether that is representative at all of how prides really function), however, the Yankees and Red Sox, have a territory that is coterminous with the park boundaries. These coterminous boundary prides have the ability not only to make credible bids upon the services of other teams recent free agents (prey in other prides' territory), but also retain any of their own players that was recently under contract (prevent other prides from seeking prey in their territory). However, that does not necessarily mean that these two large prides always prevent preying in their territory, it means that both, at their whim, can prevent it, regardless of which pride it is that is making the attempt. Lastly, both of these prides prey in other territories without reservation and occasionally may find themselves face to face, squaring off over the same prey. While the Yankees pride usually can get the Sox pride to back down, that is not always the case.

    I don't know if anyone who reads this days-old thread will see my post and agree with my analogy instead of 26's, but it is more apt to me and supports my earlier contention that while the Sox are a) not quite the Yanks, they're b) as formidable as the Yanks to pretty much everyone else. I think (b) is more important than (a). (a) only matters to the Yanks and Sox and their fans. (b) matters to the other 28 teams and their fans.

  29. In my example I neglected to mention that every pride, regardless of how large the boundaries of their territory, has a portion of the park that is theirs exclusively.

  30. With the Jenks signing the Boston Red Sox now have the highest payroll in MLB. We really need a salary cap in baseball so the other 29 teams can compete with Boston. It is getting a little ridiculous now with their spending.