Friday, December 11, 2009

On the 2010 Lineup

Kevin brought up a good question in the comments of a post from this morning on Happy Pete's splits: Where will he hit in the lineup?

This is tough one, because it looks as though there are only a few spots that are a given:

1. Bourn
3. Lance
4. Lee

That means we need to find spots for Matsui, Pence, Manzella, Feliz/Blum, and at catcher. And God knows who that's going to be, but He ain't telling.

Feliz has spend 43.3% of his career plate appearances (1782 of 4115) hitting in the #7 spot for a .256/.297/.414 line. He's only started 10 games in the #2 spot, and he's spent some time in #3/#4/#5 - but that won't be happening this year. We also need to keep in mind that Manzella won't exactly be a force with his bat, and we have an idea of what Quintero/Towles can do. So if we put Happy Pete in #6, it allows Towles to hit 7th, and Manzella to slide to #8.

Pence spent most of his time in the #6 spot (51.5% of his PAs) in 2009, and posted an .844 OPS (118 OPS+). Next-highest PAs in the lineup was in the 5th spot, where his OPS was an even .800. He also had Tejada in the lineup hitting mostly 5th, but that's obviously not an option this year, so I'd like to see Pence step up to #5.

This leaves Matsui/Keppinger in the #2 spot. Thus, the lineup with the CHONE projections of:


Note that, from CHONE's projections, the Astros could possibly have two players with an OBP under .300, and three under .315. Oh, and nary a .300 hitter.


OremLK said...

I think Pence should be the #2 guy. He'll likely be the best OBP guy other than Bourn, Berkman, and Lee, and he's also one of our best hitters... it's good to have your best hitters batting more often.

The Constable. said...

Alright, I can handle Pence at #2, but who would go in the #5 spot?

tpack said...

I see something more like:

1. Bourn CF
2. Matsui/Kepp 2B
3. Berkman 1B
4. Lee LF
5. Pence RF
6. Towles C
7. Feliz/Blum 3B
8. Manzella SS

Though you could debate the order of 6-8 pretty easily. Don't see Pence in 2 becuase he doesn't seem to be a consistent contact hitter. Kepp or Matsui might be better counted on when needing to advance Bourn.

OremLK said...

Pence is an okay contact hitter, and I feel like he's improving at it. He struck out 18% this year. I think he would be benefit from Lance hitting behind him too... he would see more pitches to hit.

tpack said...

Good point. The wildcard is how Brad Mills feels about all of this. I for one am very interested to see how he fills out his lineup card.

Anonymous said...

I agree Pence should be batting ahead of Berkman and Lee. I really would like to see a lineup of

1. Bourn
2. Matsui
3. Pence
4. Berkman
5. Lee
6. Feliz
7. Towles
8. Manzella

I know Pence's career stats aren't great in the 3 hole - but he is still young and I think batting 3rd would give him some incentive to be more patient at the plate - as well as giving him more RBI opportunities and the opportunity to score more runs. He isn't going to get much production if he has to get Lee's chubby butt around 3rd base and then wait for a #6 or #7 guy to drive him in.

Plus Berkman is much better when batting cleanup, and I don't think we lose much by moving Lee down to #5.

tpack said...

Fair points, but do you think that Berkman and Lee will take kindly to being, in a sense, demoted?

That said, Pence is going to have to carry the lineup at some point, so I agree with you that it would be good experience.

Peanut said...

I'm not certain Pence would see any more pitches to hit in front of Berkman. I certainly see the logic that pitchers would have to challenge him, but Pence is a player who seems to defy logic at every turn. It has been demonstrated time and again that you never truly have to challenge Pence. He did cut down on his slider-chasing ways a little bit in '09, but he still swings at terrible pitches and seems to have no approach at the plate beyond "see ball, hit ball." He'll see very few fastballs no matter where he hits.

He's also shown, without any exception, that he hits best in the 6-hole. I don't know how to explain that, but the numbers are what they are. And even though his on-base numbers seem a decent fit for the 2-hole, let's not forget that he put up a .318 OBP in '08 and a .298 OBP over June, July, and August of last season. His monster numbers in May and September mask his dreadful performance over the summer.

Career slashes hitting second: .273/.302/.453; hitting sixth, .303/.355/.536--that's an easy call for me.

Versus lefties, I think you have to get Keppinger into the lineup and bat him second. Versus righties, I think you might just have to pray that someone can put up a decent OBP. Matsui having a rebound year isn't out of the question (though I wouldn't bet on it), but if he hits like he did in '08, he's your answer.

BryanTSC said...

FWIW, I plugged those projections into the lineup analyzer at Interesting results:


comes to 4.313 runs per game. (about 700 for the season)

Optimized lineup suggestion came to 4.53 rpg (about 730 for the season), but I don't see it as realistic:


Anonymous said...

Pence is still young enough that i don't think his career numbers should dictate where he bats. He really needs to develop as a #3 guy asap. I think moving Berkman down to #4 could be seen as a vote of confidence. And until Lee starts running out slow ground balls i think he should get demoted.
Batting Pence behind Lee only limits his potential.
I just wish we had someone who could develop into a good #2 batter - Matsui scares me at #2 - wish he batted #7 or #8 but there is no one to take his spot.

Kevin said...

Pretty similar to tpack's idea with a little tweaking...

1. Bourn
2. *Kepp (can work a count and hit for contact allowing Bourn chance to steal/advance)
3. Lee (yeah, Lee! can at least advance Bourn/Kepp on all those fly/ground outs instead of ending innings)
4. Berkman
5. Pence
6. Feliz (behind all the high OBP guys. Did you notice his splits with runners on base, per his Constableness' analysis?)
7. Towles
8. Manzella

*This depends on whether management will let Mills use Kepp over Matsui.

I like the idea of Pence in the 2 spot (OremLK) but I'd imagine way to many strike out/throw out (of Bourn) situations.