Thursday, February 27, 2014

Best Lineup - Boston Red Sox

Next up on my look at each teams most efficient lineup is the Boston Red Sox.  In this exercise the methodology is to use my simulator to find out which lineup wins the most games vs RH and LH pitchers.  I do this by making the team of interest the "away" team, playing against a "make believe" team whose stats don't change from one sim to the next. In fact no stats (or input projections) change for either team, the only difference from one simulation to the next is the lineup of the team of interest.  For player projections, I am using ZIPs projections which are available on Fangraphs. The lineup results will only be as good as the projections.  Keep in mind, the results are not intended to match what a certain teams manager is most likely to do during the season.  In fact, I know that many of the results will not happen due to manager philosophies and veteran favoritism but these are the most optimal lineups that the simulator spit out.  In some cases the top couple of lineups had very small differences in results. The starting nine players were taken from MLBDepthCharts website.

Previous teams:
AL: Angels | Rangers | Rays | Twins | Blue Jays | Indians | Athletics | Astros
NL: Mets | Cubs | Padres | Marlins | Reds | Giants | Brewers | Dodgers

                 Red Sox 2014 ZIPS Hitting Projections
Shane Victorino13.4%6.6%0.2690.3310.4200.7510.331
Dustin Pedroia11.1%9.3%0.2850.3520.4250.7770.340
David Ortiz15.5%12.9%0.2960.3860.5520.9380.377
Mike Napoli30.5%12.2%0.2410.3420.4660.8080.350
Xander Bogaerts23.6%8.0%0.2670.3310.4290.7600.333
Daniel Nava20.8%8.8%0.2570.3440.3840.7280.322
Jonny Gomes26.9%11.4%0.2360.3350.4080.7430.327
Jackie Bradley23.3%8.4%0.2450.3220.3750.6970.308
Will Middlebrooks26.0%5.2%0.2490.2910.4250.7160.312
A.J. Pierzynski15.4%2.9%0.2670.2970.4300.7270.312

See the results after the jump

                         Best Lineup (Simulator)
vs RHPvs LHP
1CF-Jacky BradleyRF-Shane Victorino
22B-Dustin Pedroia2B-Dustin Pedroia
3DH-David OrtizSS-Xander Bogaerts
41B-Mike NapoliDH-David Ortiz
5SS-Xander Bogaerts1B-Mike Napoli
6RF-Shane VictorinoLF-Jonny Gomes
7LF-Daniel NavaCF-Jackie Bradley
8C-A.J. Pierzynski3B-Will Middlebrooks
93B-Will MiddlebrooksC-A.J. Pierzynski

MLBDepthCharts Projected Lineup
Victorino - Nava - Pedroia - Ortiz - Napoli - Bogaerts - Pierzynski - Middlebrooks - Bradley
Platoon of Nava/Gomes

Skinny:  There are not too big of a difference between many of the more popular lineups, so there really isn't much to argue about between the lineup(s) the simulator likes the best and what the Red Sox manager is likely to do.  But it is fun to come up with a number one lineup nonetheless.

Shane Victorino: Victorino would be a consensus leadoff hitter if he was only able to draw a few more walks.  He does have the speed for it but a 6.6% walk rate opens the door for others to be more productive at the top of the order.  Against LH pitchers the simulator likes Victorino hitting leadoff, otherwise he provides the most value hitting sixth.

Dustin Pedroia:  A multi faceted hitter who brings a little of everything to the table - speed, the ability to get on base and some pop.  His skill set is perfect for the second hitter in the lineup for the Red Sox.  There is plenty of power behind him to knock him so he does not need to hit third where the MLBDC projected lineups have him hitting.

David Ortiz:  By far the best hitter on the team and facing RH pitching nobody on the team comes close to putting up the production that Ortiz is capable of.  Against RH pitching the simulator likes Ortiz batting third where his production is maximized and batting fourth against LH pitchers.

Mike Napoli:  He is the most likely Red Sox hitter to strike out.  Power and the ability to take a walk are his big assets and the simulator likes the synergy of Napoli hitting behind Ortiz in any lineup.

Xander Bogaerts:  A good young hitter with a nice ZIPS projection.  He provides good production to the lineup hitting either immediate in front or behind the Ortiz/Napoli tandem.  Against RH pitchers the simulator bats him fifth and against LH pitchers the simulator slots him third as Jonny Gomes is able to fulfill his role of hitting after Ortiz and Napoli.

Jonny Gomes:  Like many of the Red Sox hitters, Gomes is good at drawing walks and getting on base.  He is not good enough though to start against RH pitchers but against LH pitchers he makes a solid number six hitter for the Red Sox.

Daniel Nava:  Not quite good enough to hit at the top of the lineup but still an excellent number seven hitter, which is where the simulator slots him against RH pitchers.  The on base percentage is there to hit near the top of the order but a little more speed and pop in his bat would be needed to knock out one of the others from that spot.  Slotting Nava in to the second spot in the lineup, pushing Pedroia, Ortiz and Napoli each down one spot in an attempt to extend the lineup turns out to be an unproductive move.

Jackie Bradley:  Against RH pitching Bradley nudges out Victorino as the best choice for leadoff but the difference is ever so slight.  Against LH pitching Bradley slots in best at seventh as the bottom of the lineup needs to be arranged such that he is not hitting back to back with Pierzynski (both left handed hitters).

Will Middlebrooks:  Middlebrooks brings a little bit of power to the end of the lineup.  He is poor at drawing walks and strikes out a lot, so those are two areas that need improvement.

A.J. Pierzynski:  Awful at drawing walks, Pierzynski seems like the anti-Red Sox player.  But like Middlebrooks, he does provide some power at the bottom of the lineup to help knock in any players still on base before the lineup gets turned over.

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