Batting order matters

I was a bit disgusted last night to see a lineup card with Kennedy and Schumaker at the top.  Despite a two game stretch some are calling a "hot streak," Kennedy's OBP is below .300, while Schumaker's only climbed above .300 a little over a week ago.  Collectively, they went 2-for-9 with no walks.

To further punctuate the situation, Kennedy made the last out of the game.  So Tony essentially had the chance to give an extra at-bat to any player on the team, and he chose Adam Kennedy.  It was the 13th time he's been in the leadoff spot this season, and Matthew Leach tells us his OBP in that slot is all of .309 (now lower).

I imagine most here have read Bill James, Baseball Prospectus or others who found optimal batting order construction puts the highest OBP at the top.  It's also just common sense that you hit Albert third so he can drive in runs, which he can't do if the first two hitters are back in the dugout.

Tony has used 8 players in the leadoff spot and 8 in the two-spot thus far (some of those overlap).  Eckstein's led-off 39 times and currently ranks 6th in OBP.  Taguchi's led-off 21 times and ranks 5th in OBP.  Miles and Kennedy have each hit first 13 times, and rank 11th and 15th, respectively.

Duncan hit second 44 times and ranks 2nd on the team in OBP, with Spezio in the slot 15 times and ranking 3rd.  Taguchi hit there 11 times.

From the standpoint of maximizing OBP, we're doing much better in the 2nd spot than the 1st.  But with Duncan moved to the cleanup spot, who's going to get on base for he and Pujols?

Eckstein and Taguchi seem like the best leadoff options, statistically.  Miles and Kennedy are terrible choices, even if they do hit left handed.

Spezio's got the best OBP outside Pujols and Duncan, so he's a great choice to bat second when he's in the lineup.  But of course, he's injured.  Schumaker and Ryan rank 4th and 8th in OBP, but the sample size and their track records make me think those numbers will come down.

The next best option to bat second right now is clearly Scott Rolen.  His .338 OBP (7th on team) is respectable.  Given his power outage, he makes less sense in the middle of the order, particularly if Duncan's already in the cleanup spot.  Others on this site have noted Rolen seemingly turning into Placido Polanco.  Doesn't it make more sense to use him that way instead of crossing our fingers and hoping he'll hit 30 HRs?

Personally, I like Duncan and his on-base skills in the 2 spot.  But if you're going to move him to try to capitalize on his slugging, it's even more crucial to get on-base skills at the top.

In the 90 games this season, Tony's used 82 different batting orders with his position players.  So why not get Rolen into that 2 spot rather than tinkering with the replacement player of the week?

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