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Hypothetical baseball question

Old 08-11-11, 08:53 PM
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Hypothetical baseball question

Let's say you manage one of the current major league teams -- your choice -- with one difference from how it currently stands: One of your players hits a home run every time he's at bat. My question is, Where is the optimum place for this hitter in your lineup if you want to maximize your teams W-L record?

A few things:
1) Extra points for showing your work.
2) I'm wondering if everyone will come to the same conclusion.

To cut down on the variables, assume that this sure-thing home run hitter is the player that currently leads your team in home runs.
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Old 08-11-11, 08:58 PM
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Re: Hypothetical baseball question

Well, hasn't it long been baseball strategy to put your best homerun hitter in the cleanup spot? I would think that better baseball minds than me have figured out the best spot to put a homerun hitter over the last 100 plus years that the game has been played.

There are some exceptions but it seems like the vast majority of year in and year out power hitters bat cleanup.
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Old 08-11-11, 09:06 PM
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Re: Hypothetical baseball question

I think you'd get about 50 less PA in the course of a season batting 4th instead of first. That means potentially 50 less runs. With a good lineup in front of you, the OB% would likely be easily over .300 and likely over .400, and with three batters, that should make up for the loss of plate appearances.
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Old 08-11-11, 09:13 PM
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Re: Hypothetical baseball question

Originally Posted by starman9000 View Post
I think you'd get about 50 less PA in the course of a season batting 4th instead of first. That means potentially 50 less runs. With a good lineup in front of you, the OB% would likely be easily over .300 and likely over .400, and with three batters, that should make up for the loss of plate appearances.
What about the OBP of the 7-8-9, 8-9, or 9 hitters in front of Mr. Home Run, for most of his at bats? Obviously will be less than the 1-2-3, 2-3, or 3 hitters, but wouldn't we need to figure the difference between these two groups? Plus a bunch more math, I'm sure.
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Old 08-11-11, 09:16 PM
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Re: Hypothetical baseball question

First of all you would need another bat in the lineup to at least protect your slugger, as if you don't. Mr. HR would be walked every single plate appearance.


And either 3rd or 4th in the lineup would be ideal. There would not be that much difference in AB's and there would be good chances of baserunners when Mr. HR comes up.
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Old 08-11-11, 09:24 PM
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Re: Hypothetical baseball question

If he hits a home run every time he's up, I'm pretty sure he'd be intentionally walked every time as well no matter who is hitting behind him. Might as well bat him 1st to maximize plate appearances.
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Old 08-11-11, 09:27 PM
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Re: Hypothetical baseball question

Originally Posted by stevevt View Post
What about the OBP of the 7-8-9, 8-9, or 9 hitters in front of Mr. Home Run, for most of his at bats? Obviously will be less than the 1-2-3, 2-3, or 3 hitters, but wouldn't we need to figure the difference between these two groups? Plus a bunch more math, I'm sure.
Sure, but those hitters would improve #4's numbers as well. I suppose, at the end of the day, it depends on which lineup position has the most runners on base per at bat (assuming the hitter actually gets an HR every time at the plate and cant be walked).
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Old 08-11-11, 09:29 PM
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Re: Hypothetical baseball question

OK, good point about the intentional walk.

Let's all revisit the original question and assume I said that he hits a home run during every one of his plate appearances. In other words, this guy will not be intentionally walked, for whatever reason, and each of his plate appearances will end with him hitting a home run. Also, assume he'll play every inning in every game for the season.
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Old 08-11-11, 09:55 PM
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Re: Hypothetical baseball question

Put him first. Move your next best to 8, next best to 7, next best to 6.

Edit: oops, meant to start at 9 for the next best.

Last edited by The Cow; 08-11-11 at 10:59 PM.
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Old 08-11-11, 10:03 PM
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Re: Hypothetical baseball question

Originally Posted by The Cow View Post
Put him first. Move your next best to 8, next best to 7, next best to 6.
I was thinking along the same lines: do you now want to have your top-of-the-order hitters at the bottom a la LaRussa?
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Old 08-11-11, 10:16 PM
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Re: Hypothetical baseball question

If you know that guy is always going to hit a homer in every plate appearance, you'd have him in one of the top 3 spots, depending on how greedy you want to be.

I think it would boil down to whether you have a greater chance of at least two RBI's with two hitters in front of him or if you would have more PA's for him in the 2nd hole.
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Old 08-11-11, 11:29 PM
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Re: Hypothetical baseball question

Originally Posted by drc View Post
If he hits a home run every time he's up, I'm pretty sure he'd be intentionally walked every time as well no matter who is hitting behind him.
You'd intentionally walk the very first batter of the ballgame?
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Old 08-11-11, 11:47 PM
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Re: Hypothetical baseball question

I would have 2 guys in front of him that have a high on base %. I would put him 3rd just to make sure he gets an at bat in the 1st inning and if the 1 & 2 hitters do their job that will be 3 runs.
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Old 08-11-11, 11:53 PM
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Re: Hypothetical baseball question

Originally Posted by The Cow View Post
Put him first. Move your next best to 8, next best to 7, next best to 6.

Edit: oops, meant to start at 9 for the next best.
This is what I agree with. Say for instance the extreme case that no one else in your lineup manages a hit except for your HR guy.

1st inning - HR, then batters 2-4 are out
2nd inning - 5-7
3rd inning - 8, 9, HR, then 2
4th inning - 3-5
5th inning - 6-8
6th inning - 9, HR, 2, 3
7th inning - 4-6
8th inning - 7-9
9th inning - HR, 2-4

Your guy gets 4 at bat's no matter what. Now say you bat him 4th and no one else gets a hit.

1st inning - 1-3 out
2nd inning - HR, 5-7
3rd inning - 8,9,1
4th inning - 2,3, HR, 5
5th inning - 6-8
6th inning - 9,1,2
7th inning - 3, HR, 5,6
8th inning - 7-9
9th inning - 1-3

Batting him 4th, there's a chance he only finishes with 3 at bats. Putting your next best guys 9, 8, 7, etc (or just your guys with the best OBP) ensures that your awesome dude gets 4 AB's and the best chance to get some guys on base ahead of him.

Hope I didn't mess something up there; feel free to correct my shitty math
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Old 08-12-11, 12:08 AM
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Re: Hypothetical baseball question

While that is correct for that situation, if you have at least 1 OBP guy ahead of him, you are going to get more runs and probably the same number of AB's for him and it's better to assume that there won't be a 9th inning for 81 games.

1st: 1, 2HR, 3out 4out 5out
2nd: 6-8 out
3rd: 9-1out, 2HR, 3out
4th: 4-6out
5th: 7-9 out
6th: 1 out, HR, 3-4out
7th: 5-7out
8th: 8-9out 1, 2HR, 3out

That's 6 runs with a guy who has a .333 OBP which is almost average (current lg averages for OBP are around .320)
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Old 08-12-11, 12:16 AM
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Re: Hypothetical baseball question

A Monte Carlo simulation is needed to answer the question, though in real life a hitter guaranteed to hit a homer every at-bat would be automatically walked every single time.
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Old 08-12-11, 01:01 AM
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Re: Hypothetical baseball question

I say get two really high OBP guys batting 1 and 2 and hit the guy third.
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Old 08-12-11, 02:20 AM
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Re: Hypothetical baseball question

Originally Posted by mgbfan View Post
I say get two really high OBP guys batting 1 and 2 and hit the guy third.
Not enough payroll considering what you'd have to give to HR guy. I'm envisioning a lineup like Barry Bonds used to be in, with Randy Winn hitting third or fourth.
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Old 08-12-11, 10:49 AM
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Re: Hypothetical baseball question

I think I'd bat him 1st, to maximize PAs, and put my best OBP guys at 9, 8, and 7. Batting him 3rd with the best OBP guys at 1 and 2 would only benefit you in the first inning. and by hitting him 3rd, there's a roughly 2 in 8 chance (ie 1 in 4) that he would not maximize his PAs if you do that, because of the 8 remaining people in the lineup who would end the last inning of the game, there's a roughly 2 in 8 chance that it would be the 1 or 2 hitter (slightly better, since we can assume that because their OBP %age is higher, they are less likely to get out). But if it's 1 in 4, or let's say 1 in 5 to account for the 1 and 2 guys getting out less often than other teammates, that's still ~32 PAs that the slugger would miss by batting 3rd and not 1st. Way too many runs to leave on the table, just to maximize the 1st inning scoring.

Let's do that math. Let's assume that all of the players on his team are average, but the 1 and 2 are above average, let's say they are ~.050 better (which is big). So, say, about .375. And let's assume that they never hit HRs with that OBP, and that #2 never drives in number one, so that every time they get on base, they are actually on base when the slugger gets up. That would lead to about 120 extra runs. But it would be less given that these guys would hit HRs and the #2 would also drive in #1. But would it be that much less? Hmmm.

So, right now, I'm saying bat him 3rd. 3rd over 4th because with 4th, it seems like you're not that much more likely to have more guys on base, he could miss batting in the 1st inning, and his chances of not maximizing his PAs goes to ~3 out of 8. I suspect that the math -- which would now get fuzzy because that's too many guys in front of him -- would lead to that not maximizing runs.
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Old 08-12-11, 10:51 AM
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Re: Hypothetical baseball question

If the batter hits a home run every plate appearance, that means he isn't being intenionally walked, so that shouldn't be in the equation, in my view.

I used to enjoy the Bill James Baseball Abstracts, even though I didn't get into the math much, and I remember him at one time advocating setting the batting order as best hitter first, second best hitter second, etc., based purely on maximizing plate appearances for the best hitters, so I'll go with first.

He also said that the two-out steal of home was the best play that no one ever attempted, I'm still waiting for someone to start trying that one. It's definitely not in the "book", but to make it worthwhile you only have to succeed at a rate higher than the rate of driving in said runner, which (ignoring walks or other inning-extenders) is probably less than 30% (just a guess).
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Old 08-12-11, 12:01 PM
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Re: Hypothetical baseball question

Originally Posted by inri222 View Post
I would have 2 guys in front of him that have a high on base %. I would put him 3rd just to make sure he gets an at bat in the 1st inning and if the 1 & 2 hitters do their job that will be 3 runs.
This is what I would do too. Batting him clean up could potentially mean that he doesn't get an AB until the second inning. I'd bat him third and put a good OBP guy 9th as well... this way in every other AB he has 3 OBP guys batting in front of him.
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Old 08-12-11, 12:04 PM
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Re: Hypothetical baseball question

Yeah, I think that's the best way to go. Actually, I suppose you'd do your best OBP guys go 2nd, 1st, 9th, 8th, 7th, etc... with 4th being the worst.
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Old 08-12-11, 12:55 PM
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Re: Hypothetical baseball question

I'd bat him second because if you bat him third there's a chance of a double play and you would only get 1 RBI.
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Old 08-12-11, 01:04 PM
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Re: Hypothetical baseball question

Batting him 3rd or 1st seems to make very logical sense.

Why, then, for quite some time, as far as I know, most teams put their best homerun hitter and best RBI guy in the 4th spot?
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Old 08-12-11, 01:16 PM
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Re: Hypothetical baseball question

I suspect because you are more likely to get one guy on in the first than 3 straight outs (well, that and stubborn tradition).
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