Monday, December 19, 2011

Hitting by Lineup Slot, 2011

I devoted a whole post to leadoff hitters, whether justified or not, so it's only fair to have a post about hitting by batting order position in general. I certainly consider this piece to be more trivia than sabermetrics, since there’s no analytical content.

The data in this post was taken from Baseball-Reference. The figures for each team's runs are not park-adjusted--I intended to do so, but unfortunately I had already written the body of the post before I realized that they’d been omitted. The Padres having the worst 2, 3, and 4 production in the NL should have alerted me to this sooner. Then I had to go back and remove some comments that make no sense when ignoring park effects, so now the post is just a skeleton. Oh well. RC is ERP, including SB and CS, as used in my end of season stat posts. The weights used are constant across lineup positions; there was no attempt to apply specific weights to each position, although they are out there and would certainly make this a little bit more interesting.

This marks a third straight season that the most productive lineup slot in the majors was the NL’s #3 hitters…Pujols, Votto, Braun and company. Despite all of the seemingly silly things managers do with their batting orders, it is comforting to know that, from the cleanup spot down, each subsequent spot is less productive. Of course, that doesn’t excuse the feeble performance of NL #2 hitters, who just edged out the #8 hitters as the least productive NL spot filled by real hitters.

Next, here are the team leaders in RG at each lineup position. The player listed is the one who appeared in the most games in that spot (which can be misleading as the presence of Mitch Moreland demonstrates):

Houston actually had the NL’s most productive hitters at two spots; of course, they were two bottom of the batting order spots in which nobody contributes anyway. The least productive lineup spots:

As you can see, Minnesota had the worst production out of both the #8 and #9 spots. What makes this truly impressive, though, is that Drew Butera was the leader in games played in both spots. One thing I had meant to include in my meanderings post but forgot was a comparison of Mathis and Butera’s basic batting lines as I present them in my end of season stats. Neither had enough PA to qualify for those lists, but their seasons were too bad to just ignore:

Mathis was intentionally walked twice; both came in a June 17 game at the Mets. No word on whether or not Ron Washington temporarily replaced Terry Collins.

Note that Houston’s #9 hitters (the best in the NL at 2.3 RG) almost managed to outhit their #8 hitters (worst in the NL at 2.5 RG).

The next chart displays the top ten positions in terms of RAA, compared to their league’s average for each spot. A lot of the same suspects pop up, of course:

And the ten worst positions:

Finally, this table has each team’s RG rank among the lineup slots in their league. The top and bottom three in each league have been noted, which make Boston and Seattle stand out (for opposite reasons, of course).

Here is a link to a Google spreadsheet with the underlying data. The RG and RAA figures in this one are park-adjusted as should have been done throughout this post.

1 comment:

  1. I came across this post while looking for explanations for the Rays' increased use of the hit-and-run ( There must be some relationship between that and their lackluster production from the 4-spot. Anyhow, very interesting. Thanks for it!


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