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What the White Sox Lineup Should Look Like


Mark Gonzales has the latest on Ozzie Guillen’s nutty lineup musings, featuring Omar Vizquel leading off against “tough lefties”. Ah, I can see Gameday already. In Play: Outs.

So what does the optimal White Sox lineup look like? In “The Book” we are given some guidance for creating the ideal lineup that flies in the face of traditional assumptions.

  • Your three best hitters should bat somewhere in the #1, #2 and #4 slots. Your fourth and fifth best hitters should occupy the #3 and #5 spots. The #1 and #2 hitters should be players who walk more than the #5 and #5 slots. #6-#9 hitters should follow in order of quality.
  • The #3 hitter will face the most double-play situations.
  • Leverage your good baserunners by putting them in front of good hitters, especially singles or doubles hitters.
  • At most, a team gains about a win if they use the optimal lineup. Batting orders just aren’t all they are cracked up to be.

You can read more on lineup optimization here. Let’s just get down to the nitty-gritty. These are the Sox’s CHONE projections, and I did some split regression to get their wOBA versus LHP and RHP.

vs. lhp wOBA vs. rhp wOBA
Beckham 0.366 Beckham 0.344
Konerko 0.377 Konerko 0.348
Rios 0.351 Rios 0.333
Quentin 0.392 Quentin 0.363
Ramirez 0.350 Teahen 0.335
Castro 0.331 Ramirez 0.322
Jones 0.333 Pierzynski 0.322
Teahen 0.311 Jones 0.321
Pierre 0.300 Pierre 0.314

I put Beckham first in both orders because of his willingness to draw a walk, and because Konerko or Quentin at this point have better power, but not by a long shot. Konerko goes #2 for his on-base percentage, while Quentin projects to draw less walks than Konerko but slug more, so he’s easy to slot at #4. Alex Rios is a good fit in the #3 spot, because he’s less of a threat to ground into a double play for a few reasons. First, because of his speed; he should leg out a few ground balls that normally would be double plays. He’ll also strike out over 100 times per year and he hits a good percentage of fly balls. When you’re doing those things, you won’t hit into a ton of DP’s.

Yes, I have Ramon Castro platooning against lefties. CHONE has Pierzynski projected for a .292 wOBA against lefties after I regress his splits, while Castro projects to hit them pretty well. Because Jones is such an all-or-nothing slugger, Alexei’s speed is better leveraged in front of Castro, even though Jones projects to be a slightly better overall hitter.

This is probably another post for another day, but Alexei does not need to be platooned. 292 plate appearances is just not enough to tell us what his true skill platoon skill level is. I don’t think I have to tell you that platooning him with the charred remains of Omar Vizquel is just plain stupid, let alone leading him off. Also notably absent: Kotsay.

So there you have it. The lineup is already going to be a bit unconventional (as in bad), so why not get the most out of it they can? It’s doubtful we’ll ever see this proposed lineup, but it sure beats anything Ozzie has proposed this spring so far.

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