Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Perfect Statistical Lineup Card

I'm going through the Astros roster, it's early on a Sunday morning, coffee pot's on, wife's still asleep, so I might as well think about baseball. As I'm doing this, I start to think - traditional roles? Throw 'em out. Let's take a look to see in which slot in the lineup did each Astro perform the best?

As always: a couple of disclaimers. We're going to give Boone and Blum their own consideration, because they'll presumably be platooning, which leads to another disclaimer that we're doing a little projecting here. Here's who we're looking at: Berkman, Matsui, Tejada, Boone, Blum, Lee, Bourn, Pence, Quintero. Some of these are going to be iffy, because well, "iffy" pretty well defines the Astros. Then we'll see how this specific lineup would have fared against the Astros actual 2008 season.

Kaz Matsui: When not dealing with a cracked anus, Matsui was pretty good. He spent time in both the #1 and #2 spots, and actually had the exact same batting average in each - .295. But hitting leadoff suited him better, as he coupled a 46x156 average with a SLG of .500.

Michael Bourn: Though he had a higher average in a smaller sample set in the #8 spot, Bourn was most effective at #2 (ha ha, grow up). This is a player with only 19 extra-base hits in 2008 and five of them were in the second spot. Posted a .292 (21x72) average and a .375 SLG.

Miguel Tejada: 54 of his hits went for extra-bases in 2008, 37 of them from the #3 spot. However, with a .353 batting average from the #2 (24x68) and a .485 SLG, Tejada could be an effective #2 hitter.

Lance Berkman: Spent most of the season in the #3 and #4 spot. Hit .262 in #3 (50x191) with five homers and a .429 SLG. In #4 went 123x360 for a .342 average and a .644 SLG.

Carlos Lee: Also performed best in the #4 spot, going 75x212 (.354) and a .608 SLG. In the #5 spot, it dropped to .278/.534.

Geoff Blum: Nine of his 14 HR came from the #5 spot, and his .253 average (39x154) and .500 SLG reflect some comfort in that spot.

Hunter Pence: Had at least four at-bats in spots 1-7. In #6 he batted .305 (94x308) with a .545 SLG. In the #3 slot, he did bat .313, but with only 5 hits and 1 for extra bases. #6 it is.

Aaron Boone: In the #7 spot, Boone had a smaller sample set, but three of his four hits in 12 at-bats were for extra-bases. So a .333/.583 line looks alright to me.

Humberto Quintero: Only really saw action in the #8, hitting in the cleanup spot (!) once, and striking out. He hit 9th 11 times, but in #8 went 36x156 and a .231 BA, .308 SLG.

So here's our clear consensus so far:
#1 - Kaz Matsui (46x156)
#2 - Miguel Tejada (24x68)
#3 -
#4 -
#5 -
#6 - Hunter Pence (94x308)
#7 - Aaron Boone (4x12)
#8 - Humberto Quintero (36x156)

So what are you going to do with Bourn/Berkman/Lee? Because Bourn was most effective in the #2 spot, let's put Bourn there, and then we get the 3/4/5 of a combination of Berkman, Lee and Tejada.

In the #3 spot we have:
Berkman, who hit 50x191 (.262) or Tejada, who went 119x420 (.283). - Lee never hit in the #3 spot in 2008

For #4:
Lee hit .354 (75x212)/.403/.608. Berkman went 123x360 (.342)/.440 OBP/.644 SLG. Tejada didn't hit fourth in '08.

Lee hit .278 (62x223). Tejada went 35x140 (.250). Berkman didn't hit fifth in '08.

Well this isn't easy, either. Both Berkman and Lee absolutely tore it up in the cleanup spot. So let's put Tejada 3rd, Berkman 4th and Lee 5th (does this look familiar?).

Here we go:
#1 - Kaz Matsui (46x156)
#2 - Michael Bourn (21x72)
#3 - Miguel Tejada (119x420)
#4 - Lance Berkman (123x360)
#5 - Carlos Lee (62x223)
#6 - Hunter Pence (94x308)
#7 - Aaron Boone (4x12)
#8 - Humberto Quintero (36x156)

That's a total of: 505x1707, or .296. What was the Astros team average in 2008? .263. Obviously there are a lot of factors at work here, and admittedly this is a very loose look at the statistics. We haven't taken into account personalities, Carlos Lee's penchant for "owning" certain spots in the line-up, injuries, slumps, etc. But it is possible to take 2008 statistics and make this team hit .296. The Cardinals had the best batting average in the NL with a .281 average - and the Rangers led the Majors with a .283 average - so to outhit the rest of the Majors by 13 points is almost an impossibility. But it's still fun to think about - because it's January, and there's not much else to do.