Thursday, February 13, 2014

Best Lineup - Los Angeles Dodgers

Next up on my look at each teams most efficient lineup is the Los Angeles Dodgers.  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 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.  For NL teams it is always better to bat your pitcher eighth but I am not even going to go there in this exercise as I know there is a 0% chance of a MLB manager actually doing that.

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

Dodgers 2014 Hitting ZIPS Projections:
Matt Kemp24.8%8.6%0.2740.3390.4730.8120.342
Yasiel Puig19.7%8.5%0.2840.3540.4850.8390.359
Hanley Ramirez17.3%8.6%0.2760.3420.4860.8280.357
Adrian Gonzalez17.0%8.0%0.2820.3390.4530.7920.335
Carl Crawford16.5%5.2%0.2660.3080.4120.7200.314
Alexander Guerrero14.4%7.5%0.2590.3240.3860.7100.313
Juan Uribe20.5%6.1%0.2420.2930.3900.6830.297
A.J. Ellis18.3%11.2%0.2440.3370.3670.7040.306
Andre Ethier19.5%9.8%0.2610.3400.4050.7450.319
Scott Van Slyke25.1%9.7%0.2490.3250.4200.7450.325

See the results after the jump

If you are familiar with the Dodgers you know that they have more than three starting outfielders, so what I did is run simulations with an outfield of Crawford, Kemp and Puig (vs both RH/LH pitchers) and an outfield of Crawford, Ethier and Puig (vs both RH/LH pitchers) and lastly an outfield of Crawford, Puig and Van Slyke (vs only LH pitchers).

Best Lineup with outfield of Crawford/Kemp/Puig
vs RHPvs LHP
1CF-Matt KempC-A.J. Ellis
2RF-Yasiel PuigCF-Matt Kemp
31B-Adrian Gonzalez1B-Adrian Gonzalez
4SS-Hanley RamirezSS-Hanley Ramirez
5LF-Carl CrawfordRF-Yasiel Puig
62B-Alexander GuerreroLF-Carl Crawford
73B-Juan Uribe2B-Alexander Guerrero
8C-A.J. Ellis3B-Juan Uribe
9Pitchers SpotPitchers Spot

Best Lineup with outfield of Crawford/Ethier/Puig
vs RHPvs LHP
1CF-Andre EthierC-A.J. Ellis
2RF-Yasiel PuigRF-Yasiel Puig
31B-Adrian GonzalezSS-Hanley Ramirez
4SS-Hanley Ramirez1B-Adrian Gonzalez
5LF-Carl Crawford2B-Alexander Guerrero
62B-Alexander GuerreroLF-Carl Crawford
73B-Juan Uribe3B-Juan Uribe
8C-A.J. EllisCF-Andre Ethier
9Pitchers SpotPitchers Spot

Best Lineup with outfield of Crawford/Puig/Van Slyke
vs LHP
12B-Alexander Guerrero
2CF-Yasiel Puig
31B-Adrian Gonzalez
4SS-Hanley Ramirez
5RF-Scott Van Slyke
6LF-Carl Crawford
73B-Juan Uribe
8C-A.J. Ellis
9Pitchers Spot

Best Lineup with outfield of Ethier/Kemp/Puig
vs RHPvs LHP
1LF-Andre Ethier2B-Alexander Guerrero
2CF-Matt KempCF-Matt Kemp
31B-Adrian Gonzalez1B-Adrian Gonzalez
4SS-Hanley RamirezSS-Hanley Ramirez
5RF-Yasiel PuigRF-Yasiel Puig
63B-Juan UribeLF-Andre Ethier
72B-Alexander Guerrero3B-Juan Uribe
8C-A.J. EllisC-A.J. Ellis
9Pitchers SpotPitchers Spot


Matt Kemp:  Assuming that Matt Kemp is healthy and his ZIPS projections hold up, the simulator likes Matt Kemp hitting leadoff for the Dodgers against RHP.  The Dodgers lineup is pretty unique in that they don't have a really high OBP, very fast and low to moderate HR power hitter.  I assume Kemp will still have good speed, though I did dock his speed score a little bit due to last season's ankle injury.  Kemp's projection does look quite a bit like Puig's but I guess Kemp's slightly lower slugging percentage provides the lineup more production as the leadoff hitter.  Against LHP, the simulator drops Kemp down to second in the lineup when catcher A.J. Ellis moves into the leadoff spot.

Yasiel Puig: Puig could easily provide maximum production hitting first through fifth on various MLB lineups but in the Dodgers lineup the simulator likes Puig hitting second in most cases.  In the (vs LHP) lineup with Matt Kemp starting in CF the simulator does slot Puig into one of the more traditional RBI spots in the lineup - hitting fifth.

Hanley Ramirez: Ramirez is projected by ZIPS to have very similar numbers as Puig, but obviously Ramirez does not run as well as the younger Puig.  Which makes Ramirez a perfect fit in the cleanup spot in almost every scenario.  Against LHP and when Ethier is starting instead of Kemp the simulator does flip-flop Ramirez with Adrian Gonzalez, moving Ramirez to the third spot in the lineup.

Adrian Gonzalez: In most cases the simulator likes Gonzalez hitting third with first dibs to knock Puig in.  The Dodgers really have four good hitters and Gonzalez is at the bottom edge of that top tier.

Carl Crawford:  When you think of Carl Crawford you think of a top of the lineup hitter, either at leadoff or maybe batting second.  At or near the top of the lineup you really need to have on base percentage skills.  While he has lost some of his speed, Crawford still has the speed which can be leveraged at or near the top of the lineup but the low on base percentage is a killer.  The simulator does not like Crawford near the top of the lineup in any lineup scenario.  Instead the simulator likes Crawford hitting fifth against RHP and sixth against southpaws.  Amazingly (or maybe sadly), Crawford does have the fifth best projected slugging percentage of any of the five regulars including Andre Ethier.

Alexander Guerrero: Guerrero's 2014 projection is a bit of a crapshoot but we have to use something so there is a moderate amount of uncertainty over where he hits.  Since he is basically a rookie, Mattingly won't likely hit him in the top half of the lineup unless he turns into last years version of Yasiel Puig.  Mattingly likely hits Uribe before Guerrero but just going by the ZIPS projections and taking emotions and fairy dust out of the equation the simulator like Guerrero batting mostly sixth with some appearances at both fifth and seventh vs LHP.  With both Kemp and Ethier not starting (and Van Slyke starting in RF against LHP) the simulator does bump Guerrero up to the leadoff spot which is interesting but unlikely to actually take place.

Juan Uribe:  Similar to Carl Crawford, Uribe has a poor strikeout to walk ratio, only Crawford provides a little more on base and slugging percentage making Uribe the perfect number seven hitter and perhaps number eight hitter in a few scenarios for the Dodgers.  Uribe is more known for his glove, so as long as he can keep his OPS near the 0.700 level he is worth the offensive sacrifice (not the bunting kind).

A.J. Ellis: While it is no big secret, A.J. Ellis only brings one skill to the table on offense and that is his ability to get on base by drawing walks.  Ellis saw his walk rate drop to a career low 10% in the 2013 season.  ZIPS is projecting it to be back over 11% this season.  This may raise a bit of a stir but the simulator does like Ellis batting leadoff against most LHP.  Kemp and Puig just pound the ball too hard against LHP to have them both hitting one-two in the lineup in that case.  And before you bring it up or ask, there is no such thing as clogging the bases - as opposed to the all more truthful idiom of clogging the bench.  While not leading off the simulator likes Ellis batting eighth where he can get bunted over by the pitcher (or knocked in by Greinke) and become a run scoring candidate, albeit a slow one for the top of the order.

Andre Ethier:  Ethier's difficulty in hitting left handed pitching is well known and you can see it in the swing of where the simulator bats him when he is starting.  Ethier is projected to have one of the better on base percentages on the team and a slugging percentage that rivals teammate Carl Crawford's.  That is why the simulator tries to leverage Ethier's on base prowess by batting him leadoff against RHP but drops him to eighth, which might seem a little harsh against LHP.  He comes the closest of any teammate to rivaling the projection that A.J. Ellis puts out, though Ethier has a little more power and speed.

Scott Van Slyke: Van Slyke is the mystery player on the roster that you don't hear much about.  If Van Slyke played a better outfield defense he would be a respectable major league starter.  Instead he is a bench bat and power bat that can make the occasional start against a LHP.  A closer look at Van Slyke's projection and he is given the same OPS as Ethier and a slightly higher wOBA.  Van Slyke is really a nice option to have on the bench and I don't understand why his roster spot isn't more of a lock than it is.  When starting in RF against LHP with Puig and Crawford manning the two other outfield spots, the simulator like Van Slyke's power bat hitting fifth.

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