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Yost goes back to traditional line up / change in baseball


ESPNOwen

What's everyone's thoughts on Ned Yost going back to a traditional line up, i.e., flip-flopping Kendall and the pitcher's spot?

 

My co-host, (and Cap Times columnist Mike Lucas) say that this is the right move; in their view, if batting the pitcher 8th is such a great idea, why isn't everyone doing it? To me, this is faulty thinking as baseball history is full of evidence of teams doing things regardless of it being the right move or not.

IMO, the issue wasn't whether JJ Hardy needed protection in the 7-hole (Kendall as protection is like a celebrity hiring Don Knotts as a bodyguard), but was about Rickie Weeks living up to his billing. If Weeks hits .270, then Kendall has probably scored more runs and no one complains.

 

Again, your thoughts?

 

 

(added "change in baseball" to title to reflect direction thread is taking --1992)

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While there is some statistical evidence that batting the pitcher 8th is the right move, there is no way that 50 games is going to prove or disprove the theory. Did it help the Brewers? Did it hurt them? Does anyone really know what the net effect was? I sure don't. I don't think it's nearly as simple as just seeing how many times Kendall scored.

 

In the end, I think it makes little difference either way. If it wasn't so "controversial" to dare do things a little differently in baseball, it would have barely even been mentioned in the first place.

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I think, to paraphrase Yost, he's just shaking things up for the heck of it, hoping that something will trigger more runs. In reality it will have little effect, so I don't really care much one way or the other. It's far more important that people like Bush be pitchers and not belly itchers.
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"It wasn't hurting us, but in my mind it wasn't creating a huge advantage for us, either," Yost said. "We'll try this for a while, back to a traditional lineup setting, and see what happens."

 

I think that quote is pretty acurate. A traditional lineup is so close to being optimized that changes to make it better are not going to add much advantage. Of course unless you start doing things like batting your pitcher lead off and Fielder in the 9 hole you are not going to make much negative impact on a lineup either.

Fan is short for fanatic.

I blame Wang.

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It's strange how everyone is afraid of making any kind of change. It's like a macho thing where all things being equal, we beat you. Even stranger is that this sentiment somehow made it's way through the steroid era, and even now we still play it off as if the juiced-up pitcher was throwing to the juiced-up hitter. Everyone wants everything to be equal in baseball, because apparently a small advantage like batting the pitcher 8th might win more games that would have otherwise been lost if all things had been equal.

 

Change is incredibly slow in sports.

If I had Braun's pee in my fridge I'd tell everybody.

~Nottso

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Great post, jazzytrav. Captured my thoughts there. Baseball history is full of complaining about change -- from developing mounds, to batters' boxes, to foul poles... on & on. Change rarely comes in sports -- especially baseball -- without full-fledged resistance.
Stearns Brewing Co.: Sustainability from farm to plate
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If Ned really wanted to shake things up, I'd like to see him pull a lineup out of a hat. Put everyone's name in a hat, and draw names. Just for one game. That DEFINITELY would shake things up.

Ned only does that to decide which player to give a day off... Trebelhorn did the lineup out of a hat thing once.

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It's probably not a huge deal, one way or the other.

 

Ned's explanation was convoluted, though. When he batted Kendall 9th, he said it would provide an extra few runs (by avoiding DP's, etc.). But last week he said that batting him 8th would yield extra runs, too. So I don't quite understand how both of those things can be simultaneously true.

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My co-host, (and Cap Times columnist Mike Lucas) say that this is the right move; in their view, if batting the pitcher 8th is such a great idea, why isn't everyone doing it?
It's like Russ and jazzytrav say: baseball is afraid of change. Another example: as we've discussed a lot in recent lineup threads, statatistical study is now suggesting that the #3 hitter should be the fifth best hitter in the lineup. We have yet to see a manager purposely try that.

That’s the only thing Chicago’s good for: to tell people where Wisconsin is.

[align=right]-- Sigmund Snopek[/align]

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It doesn't really matter one way or the other, especially considering Kendall's WOAHs of late. We just need the hitters to start hitting like they can and in the past week or two we've seen a few flickers of that happening I think. What concerns me more is losing another starting pitcher to injury or lack of productivity.
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As much as I commend Ned for having the pitcher bat 8th, I think he kinda missed the point. I was under the impression that you should consider Kendall the leadoff and weeks the 2 hitter, putting Fielder and Braun at the 2 and 3 spots in the lineup to get them more plate appearances. Solid idea Ned, but poor execution.
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There was a phrase that buyers used when I sold Gateway computers some years ago: "Nobody gets fired for buying Compaq". Basically, there is an expected level of performance and risk, and when you stay within those parameters, you are safe. But if you fail while trying something outside the comfort level, you are under more fire.

 

It's not like there were numerous games where having the pitcher bat 8th cost the team games and Yost pointed to those as evidence for change. It was a weird decision to be sure.

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I liked the idea when it was introduced, but at the time, I thought it coincided with batting Braun second and Fielder third. If Kendall was getting on base at a .450 clip, Braun was swinging like normal, and Prince was eating a steak every once in awhile, I'm sure the experiment would have been a huge success.

 

I remember the game where Treblehorn pulled the lineup out of the hat. I think Juan Castillo batted cleanup that day, which says quite a bit about sticking with tradition.

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I don't think it was either a massive success or a horrendous failure. The runs scored evidence suggests it was more of a failure than a success.

 

I don't think it was the success because baseball players for the most part are better off not thinking, and once you make a change from the norm and get them out of a routine, it gets them thinking. Batting in front of the pitcher got inside Hardy's head, even more I think batting 7th, than it would batting 8th because he was more often in an RBI spot hitting 7th than 8th and therefore more conscious of the conflict between aggression and patience.

 

It did prevent Kendall from hitting into a few double plays.

 

What effect it had on Weeks I don't know.

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So I don't quite understand how both of those things can be simultaneously true.

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If we really wanted to benefit from the pitcher batting 8th thing, we should have moved someone else in the top 4 spots toward the bottom. Something like:

 

Weeks

Braun

Fielder

Hart

Hall/Branyan

Cameron

Hardy

Pitcher

Kendall

 

If we were trying to create the illusion of a second leadoff hitter, no sense having Mike Cameron hit in the imaginary 3rd spot.

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What naysayers forget about this strategy is on average it only happened about twice a game. Kendall has played 43 games batting 9th. The overwhelming majority of those games the starting pitcher only made 2 plate appearances. After that he was replaced by a pinch hitter or a double switch partner. So if you believe in lineup protection, you argue late in the game Hardy (or whoever was batting 7th) enjoyed an advantage as the next batter would be a player who had been picked to face that pitcher or for the particular situation in the game.

 

I like it when organizations think out of the box. Kendall is getting on base at a .352 clip. Expect him to be stranded a lot more.

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Batting in front of the pitcher got inside Hardy's head, even more I think batting 7th, than it would batting 8th because he was more often in an RBI spot hitting 7th than 8th and therefore more conscious of the conflict between aggression and patience.

 

How are you making this claim? This is a huge stretch at best. I think the only thing that's been going on with Hardy has been a slow start, and one that he's sure to regress upwards & away from as the season drags on.

Stearns Brewing Co.: Sustainability from farm to plate
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How are you making this claim? This is a huge stretch at best.

 

I don't think it's that huge a stretch. When I saw Hardy hit in front of the pitcher, I saw a guy flailing at balls out of the strike zone more than I remember. If I was in his shoes, I would feel more pressure to produce because I knew an inferior hitter was coming behind me. I don't know if he ever said anything in public, but he looked like a guy who didn't want to take a walk and wanted to make something happen.

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But... his BB rate is much improved from last season. 20 BB over 172 AB. Hasn't the 'bats in front of the P, therefore sees worse pitches' myth been debunked here?

 

 

EDIT: 17 of the 20 BBs came batting 7th (other 3 @ #6); 17 BB over 121 PA. That's a very good rate -- (.364 OBP as the #7 hitter to this point). The only thing Hardy's been lacking or has yet to return to his personal norm is the SLG. Once that comes, he's going to look a whole lot better.

Stearns Brewing Co.: Sustainability from farm to plate
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