Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Ichiro Lineup Shuffle

There has been much discussion about the Seattle Mariners recent decision to drop Ichiro Suzuki down in the lineup from leadoff to the number three spot. Is it a good decision? Will the Mariners offense benefit? It is difficult to say as Ichiro claims that he can change his approach and hit for more power while giving up batting average points at the plate (due to more strike outs). Any change in approach is likely a push when you look at how it will likely effect his wOBA. More power and more strike outs will likely keep his wOBA numbers around the same, at the very least still within the noise.

What I have done is run the Mariners lineup through my simulator with a couple of different lineups. In this exercise I want to see what kind of lineup the Mariners would score the most runs with. And today I take a look at the Mariners lineup against a RHP. To give the Mariners 9 (or more) innings worth of at-bats in every game I made them the away team and picked the Chicago White Sox and Phil Humber as their opponents. I ran my simulator with four different Mariner lineups, keeping all other variables the same and take a look at how many runs they scored per game (100K games simulated) and average win expectancy. Here are the lineups and the results.

Lineup #1 Figgins Ackley Suzuki Carp Montero Smoak Gutierrez Olivo Ryan
Lineup #2 Suzuki Gutierrez Ackley Montero Carp Smoak Olivo Figgins Ryan
Lineup #3 Figgins Suzuki Smoak Montero Carp Ackley Gutierrez Olivo Ryan
Lineup #4 Ackley Suzuki Smoak Montero Carp Figgins Gutierrez Olivo Ryan

And now the results...

Lineup Runs/Game WPct
Lineup #1 4.05113 47.430%
Lineup #2 4.05001 47.261%
Lineup #3 4.03139 47.161%
Lineup #4 4.02156 47.020%

So as you can see, there is no difference between a lineup that bats Figgins leadoff and Ichiro third than one that bats Ichiro leadoff. The difference is so minimal that the team is likely better off just letting players bat where they are the most comfortable at. Feel free to tweet or email me your own lineup (vs RHP, LHP), I will gladly run it through my simulator and post the results in the table here. Next up I will look at a vs LHP lineup.

... And here is Part II, vs LHP lineup (Danks)

Lineup #1L Figgins Ackley Suzuki Carp Montero Smoak Gutierrez Olivo Ryan
Lineup #2L Suzuki Gutierrez Ackley Montero Carp Smoak Olivo Figgins Ryan
Lineup #3L Montero Carp Suzuki Smoak Figgins Ackley Gutierrez Olivo Ryan
Lineup #4L Ackley Figgins Suzuki Montero Carp Smoak Gutierrez Olivo Ryan
Lineup #5L Suzuki Smoak Figgins Montero Carp Ackley Gutierrez Olivo Ryan

And now the results...

Lineup Runs/Game WPct
Lineup #3L 3.96294 46.1844%
Lineup #1L 3.95466 46.0012%
Lineup #5L 3.95412 46.1896%
Lineup #4L 3.95362 46.0384%
Lineup #2L 3.9322 45.8776%

Skinny: So the best lineup vs left handed pitchers was just one that was sorted from highest wOBA to lowest wOBA vs LHP with the lineup that was tops against the RHP coming in 2nd. Makes me wonder if the lineup sorted from highest to lowest wOBA would also come out on top vs the RHP. Guess I will have to run that one again and see.

Well, as it turns out the same lineup (Lineup #3L) also has the same wOBA order against RHP as it does against LHP. Lineup #3L against RHP (Humber) scored 4.0517 runs per game which also puts it first in the vs RHP list. So there you have it. According to my simulator the Mariners would actually be best off by just ordering their lineup from best to worst hitters. In other words, give your best hitters the most plate appearances. But we are only talking around two tenths of a win over 162 games vs the wOBA sorted lineup and the (Figgins, Ackley, Suzuki) lineup. Worth worrying about? Nope!

Here are the output wOBA's for each Mariners player in this exercise. Keep in mind this is different than the input wOBA used. The output wOBA is effected by the quality of opposing starting pitcher and relief pitcher as well as the the park the player is hitting in, if he is at home or away and the handedness matchup.

Player Output wOBA vs Humber Output wOBA vs Danks
Figgins 0.327 0.323
Ackley 0.328 0.317
Suzuki 0.334 0.329
Montero 0.349 0.361
Carp 0.337 0.332
Smoak 0.335 0.329
Gutierrez 0.303 0.307
Olivo 0.297 0.303
Ryan 0.292 0.298

Note: My own set of proprietary hitter and pitcher projections were used.


Skip said...

I'm just glad to see that in any of your projections the Mariners are scoring over 4 runs a game, I believe that's a 1/2 run per game improvement over 2011.

Xeifrank said...

Skip, keep in mind in this exercise I have the Mariners playing at the White Sox home park (hitters park) with either Phil Humber (RHP) or John Danks (LHP) pitching. It is not meant as a measurement to how many runs per game the Mariners will score on average using their actual 2012 schedule. I kept all the variables the same except for the Mariners lineup, giving me a good reading on how many more/less runs the Mariners would score given any lineup.