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Friday, April 22, 2011


Valdez should bat 3rd...that's just crazy enough to work.

Seriously though, move Chooch to the 2 hole and put Polly 3rd...problem solved.

Seriously, WTF is up with getting testy when they ask where you're sore? It's a totally legitimate question.

Heather, Ryan's wife has been riding him rather hard about the annoying fans...its clearly rubbing off.

So many double entendres in that last post...

Not that I was there but I imagine Madson getting testy had more or so to do with his wife being in the newspaper last week than him being mad at the question. Just a theory. Not sure he feels like being best friends with the press.

Definitely a worry though. I complete game shut out or a mash fest would be preferred tonight. Not trying to see Baez in a save situation.

A team serious about contending should never have to suffer the indignity of having to bat a Wilson Valdez third and having to close a game with a Danys Baez.

a little sexual tension between heather and NEPP?

Is this crazy? Valdez, Polanco, Victorino, Howard, Francisco, Ibanez, Rollins, Ruiz?

For Jack: See, I told you that this would happen. Took Dave Cameron all of 1 day to make the comparison and say Braun's deal was worse.

Valdez leading off does eliminate his threat of constant DP balls...though Polly leads the team in that dept right now.

Still, Vic had done pretty well in the leadoff role so far...I'd hate to move him and suddenly see a dropoff.

Only two guys should be permanent fixtures: Howard batting fourth, Ruiz batting 7th or 8th. Ruiz is the best bet to keep the lineup moving and his lack of speed would hurt at the top.

The only reason Polly is leading the team in double plays is because he's the only one who is making contact with the ball with runners on base. Everyone else is striking out.

ways wondered about SLG... what does the ability to draw walks and hit singles have to do with power? If it truely measures power, why not exclude those from teh equation?

Also, of course Heather slighted Howard, probably inadvertantly due to blind hatred. .659 SLG in 2006.

*Always wondered

Bat Rollins 9th. Hold on. Need more Cutty.

What does the all-knowing Lineup Optimizer say? Based on 2011 numbers to date, and assuming a .125 OBP & slugging percentage for the pitcher, the all-knowing Lineup Optimizer says we should use the following lineup, which would score us a whopping 4.304 runs per game:


When the all-knowing Lineup Optimizer tells you that the pitcher should be batting 6th, I think it's reasonable to conclude that this is a pitiful lineup.

BAP, it also tells you that it's April

Everyone had Polanco and Victorino carrying the offense this year, right?

quincy.mcneal: A lot of people think ISO (SLG - AVG) is a better measure of power than SLG - it removes the singles from slugging percentage.

In a previous post, I suggested that Chooch be moved up to the #2 hole, Polanco to #3, and Rollins to #7. What is it with Cholly that makes him so inflexible? How long do you bat a guy #3 who has one RBI and whose every AB seems to result in a weak ground ball or a popup? Batting Rollins #3 has been one of the worst decisions Cholly has ever made. Much the same can be said for Cholly's unwillingness to give Mayberry a chance to start over the washed up Raul Ibanez. Whether he is facing a RHP or a LHP, Ibanez's bat speed has dropped off, and he can no longer be an offensive force. Both Rollins and Ibanez are killing the offense. Why does Cholly just sit on his fat ass and do nothing?

So Madson is suffering from "soreness"? When the Phillies are delivering the message "soreness" = "TJ surgery is imminent". My apologies to Fatalotti for suggesting that Madson's absence was nothing to worry about. I should have known better than to think Charlie would give his best reliever a day off. I also should have known better than to adopt an optimistic stance & ignore the obvious Doomsday overtones inherent in such an event. I shall not repeat this mistake.

Our regular lineup configuration, BTW, should average 4.196 runs per game according to the all-knowing Lineup Optimizer. We're actually averaging 4.78 runs per game right now (though not always with the same lineup configuration, obviously). So the all-knowing Lineup Optimizer tells us that we've actually been pretty lucky to score as many runs as we have.

Also, the fact that Madson was so very pissy in his (non) responses suggests that he might actually be hurt, & is (understandably) ticked off about it.

Here's the thing: what are the chances Rollins simply isn't a good hitter anymore?

By Phillies' logic, the twitter sidebar's mention of Jonny Venter's "Biceps Soreness" must mean arm amputation.

Maybe another chair challenged him to a fight?

"Howard does have some pretty historic ISO numbers for his career.

From 2006 to now, he's 2nd in the Majors in that department...just behind Pujols"

Is having the second best ISO over a cherry-picked 5 year range historic? In all the 5 year ranges of all time, where does Howard's rate? If it's top 10 or top 20 (or so), then I'd agree that it's historic.

Riffing on ISO... ISO is a skill. It's Howard's one real skill, albeit a prodigious skill to date.

I'll give you prodigious, I'll quibble over historic without better evidence. :)

"Here's the thing: what are the chances Rollins simply isn't a good hitter anymore?"

X is approaching infinity.

I have to say, I'd be curious to know the reasoning behind the Lineup Optimizer's belief that you should bat one of your worst hitters third. Rollins is 2nd on the team this year in RBI opportunities -- which makes sense since he's hitting behind our 2 highest OBP players. If a particular lineup spot is going to be near the team lead in RBI opportunities, it goes against my intuitioin (and, apparently, the intuition of every manager in baseball) to say that you'd want one of your weaker hitters in that spot.

Mind you, I'm not rejecting the Lineup Optimizer's conclusion. But I'd sure be curious to know the reasoning.

b_a_p: Agreed. I am unapologetically suspicious of this "Optimizer".

"The only reason Polly is leading the team in double plays is because he's the only one who is making contact with the ball with runners on base. Everyone else is striking out."

Polanco hits a ton of ground balls and has little speed. Hitting into 6 GIDP so far is just some bad look but if he is healthy all year he is a lock to hit into at least 15 GIDP. With 6 already, likely closer to 20.

Yet another reason why 'making contact' is generally overrated.

If Madson goes down for an extended period (say a month or so), this team is in a world of trouble. I would argue they would have the worst bullpen in the NL.

"what are the chances Rollins simply isn't a good hitter anymore?"

Where's the evidence to support such a silly assertion? You can't count this year's numbers because it's a small sample size. You can't count last year's numbers because he was injured. You can't count his 2009 numbers because that season was an anomaly. You can't count his 2008 numbers because, even though he had a huge drop-off, the incontrovertible Fangraphs still said he was a $15M player. You can believe what you choose to believe about Rollins' offensive abilities, but there isn't a shred of evidence to support what you're saying.

MG: If Madson is out, they are in serious, serious trouble in the bullpen. But I see no reason to believe he is. If he doesn't pitch again tonight in a close game, then I'll be skeptical.

Halladay as reliever on his throw day? That would be kind of genius.

Jack - Yeah. If he doesn't pitch tonight if the Phils are ahead in a close game, likely it is more than just general utilization. We'll see.

b-a-p, Rollins is just off to a slow start. Just because the sample of ABs exceeds 1000 since 2009, you really don't know if that is statistically significant at the .01 level. Maybe his body is sore or something?

Seriously, 2008 was Rollins' second-best offensive season. That it was not as good as 2007 is irrelevant.

R: If you're going by OPS+, yes. But that's solely because his walk totals anomalously spiked up for one year. The rest of his numbers were down across the board.

A rising walk total is a good thing but, if you're actually trying to discern a 3-year trend, a one-year spike in walk totals, which happened 3 years ago & has not been repeated, tells us a lot less than the other declining numbers which have continued to decline.

Rollins is not a good hitter anymore, end of story. He's still got a great glove, can still run the bases and steal, and he does seem to be walking a bit more.

But a good offensive player...not anymore.

Should have read, *But a good **hitter**...not anymore*

I don't ever go by OPS+, because OPS itself is fairly useless. I'm going by wRC+, which is based on wOBA.

Regardless, it can be shown that in the second half of 2009, Rollins was also a very productive hitter. So we're talking about one truly, epically, putrid half to begin 2009, an injury-plagued 2010, and the first less-than-a-month of 2011, and this is our evidence?

Now, all that said, though Rollins has been working counts fairly well, I haven't seen Rollins attacking the pitches to hit he gets, or driving the ball much at all. While I still look for him to improve on that front, I can't say I'm not concerned. What annoys me is these blanket references to "decline since 2007", especially when 2007 was far and away his best season, without context. It's not true (same with my complaint about Utley's alleged downward trend; also not true).

Maybe Polanco has hit into 6 DPs this season but he is also hitting .360 with 15 RBIs - tied for the team lead. I'll gladly take his contact hitting.

R: Your 1:28 post looks suspiciously similar to my 1:04 post, except that mine was satirical.

PhilliesDude - He's hitting .360 right now in large part because he is hitting a ton of balls hard (25.4% LD) rate. That high a rate won't last. He is just really locked-in at the plate right.

MG - of course the .360 average won't last but his hitting is one of the reasons we have won 2/3 of our games so far. His hitting the ball hard has resulted in more DPs but also more hits and RBIs which the Phillies have sorely needed.

Anyone who saw the several long team wide "slumps" last year shouldn't be surprised by more of the same this year. It's pretty much the same cast of characters a year older.

Anyone have any thoughts on Ryan Ludwick? Maybe a change of parks would do him some good. If you ask me he still has more upside then ben or jmj

2010 STL GP 77 AB 281 R 44 H 79 2B 20 3B 2 HR 11 RBI 43 BB 24 SO 64 SB 0 CS 3 AVG.281 OBP.343 SLG.484 OPS.827

2010 SD GP 59 AB 209 R 19 H 44 2B 7 3B 0 HR 6 RBI 26 BB 24 SO 57 SB 0 CS 1 AVG.211 OBP.301 SLG.330 OPS.631

2011 SD GP 16 AB 60 R 10 H 12 2B 3 3B 0 HR 2 RBI 8 BB 8 SO 16 SB 1 CS 0 AVG.200 OBP.314 SLG.350 OPS.644

R - Are you serious? Since 2009, he has had 1095 ABs and is hitting .248, as compared with his career BA of .272. If you really intend to argue that he is not on the decline, then have at it.

I never said he wasn't in decline, I said he has more upside than ben in jmj. to me jmj is a AAAA player and ben is nothing special. I think in our park ludwick could still pop at least 20 and knock in 80 or so. plus play a way better OF then ben. And he wouldn't cost you anything prospect wise really that's for sure

So Rollins follows his great 2007, with a solid 2008. Then has a terrible first half in 2009. He finishes very strong that year, then begins 2010 very strong as well, before missing a ton of time due to injuries. Taking that into account apparently means that I am ignoring the reality, established over 1000+ plate appearances, that Rollins is clearly washed up, even though I have also expressed concern that this year Rollins hasn't seemed able to drive the ball. Excellent.

I've already made the case, Hitman. Ignore it at your leisure.

bap: "rollins has the secon highest RBI opps on the team"

Where did you find this stat?

Breaking News: Jimmy Rollins has announced his retirement after reading several respected Philadelphia Phillies blogs, the former MVP shortstop has determined that he is in a long period of decline and would rather quit before he is completely washed up.

lorecore: Was in David Hale's Delaware Online column today. 59 runners have been on base in Rollins' AB this year. Only Howard has had more RBI opps.

Hitman, R made the case. You are welcome to disagree, but don't pretend he didn't make it.

My optimistic side finds it quite plausible, but my pessimistic side knows that my optimistic side is the bigger of the two.

runners on base = runners on base, not RBI Opps.

I'd rather have 3 ABs with runners on 3rd/0 out then 10 ABs with runners on 1st with 2 out.

lorecore: Whatever. The stat means what it means. I called it "RBI opportunity" for short (all ABs, technically, are RBI opportunities). Whatever label you want to affix to the stat, it shows that the No. 3 hitter in the Phillies' lineup has had a disproportionate number of chances to drive runs home.

Disproportionate, in comparison to other spots in the lineup, I mean.

I liked David Hales suggestion of putting Ibinez into the 3 hole.
Might shake him out of the doldrums without having to sit him down.
Put Jimmy in at the 7 hole .
Chooch up to 5.
Not necessarily a good permanent fix , but 3-4-5 in the lineup is a black hole right now.

So if there is a runner on first with 2 outs and the batter hits a triple...should he not be credited with an RBI, since it was not really an RBI opportunity???

Runners on base = RBI opp

Runner on third, no out = very good RBI opp

Runner on 1st with 2 out = not so great RBI opp, but opp notheless

I think Madson (if what he's saying is true) was annoyed that they used the same adjective to describe what he was feeling as they used to describe a player that hasn't played yet this year and is dealing with a possibly chronic knee condition. I'd be testy about that.

Breaking News: Ben Francisco is an ordinary hitter.

According to today's Wall Street Journal, which searched for "the most perfectly ordinary hitter" amongst those with 1000+ PA's (2007 to date), Francisco ties with three others.

Almost by definition, perfectly ordinary hitters won't spring to mind, so I'll not make y'all guess the others; they are Casey Blake, Chase Headley and Kevin Kouzmanoff.

I think it's fair to say Rollins is holding back the lineup, but let's focus on Raul Ibanez. I came across this article earlier and it basically suggests that maybe we should have never gotten rid of Burrell after all. What do you guys think?

Ibanez in the 3-hole and JRoll to the 6-hole? I guess. Neither guy has hit a lick the last 10 days or so.

I have never seen Martin Frank and David Hale in same place at same time...have you?

Ya heard.

With Richard on the mound tonight, there's absolutely no reason that Ibanez should be in the starting lineup. Mayberry should be and he would be a decent choice to hit 3rd.

BAP seems utterly unaware that trying to make broad statements based on 18 games is not only moronic, but egregiously moronic, especially when you go to the trouble feeding said stats into a device designed for full-season stats.

clout: I just fed the 2011 stats into the machine & reported the results. I expressed no view on whether those stats are reliable enough to be the basis for long-term lineup decisions. They clearly aren't. But they do tell you how guys are playing right now, which might be good information to know when filling out tonight's lineup card.

Usually I do the blog pimping thank you very much!

"Almost by definition, perfectly ordinary hitters won't spring to mind, so I'll not make y'all guess the others; they are Casey Blake, Chase Headley and Kevin Kouzmanoff."

3 average to slightly above 3Bs compared to a LF/stretched RF. Without researching, Francisco falls in that cusp of weak 3rd, good 4th OF. Ben "> 91st best OF in the majors" Francisco.

bap: understood, rollins isn't performing well. I just thought you had some sweet RBI Opps stat that I didn't know about, but was just you labelling it wrong.

Wes: of course you should be creditted for an RBI no matter what run you produce. A triple is a hit, so is a single. Do we sit here and say "i hope jimmy gets to third on a very good hit instead of only to first on a notso good hit"? No, we quantify the hits for the number of bases the batter reaches. Thats how RBI Opps should be handled as well.

still no one has answered the question... why would you want the worst or second worst hitter hitting 3rd when they see so many people on base???

Hammradio: Prepare to wait a lot longer for an answer to a question that clearly doesnt have one.

HammRadio: Because Ibañez has to play all game, every game! And Chooch has to be in the bottom third because he's a Catcher! And Mayberry needs to PH because of the f*cking wind! Dammit, man, don't you know common sense when you see it?!

Hamm: Because they don't. Do some research. The Baseball Musings analysis of thousands upon thousands of games found the 3rd, 7th and 8th spots in the lineup to be best locations for the 3 weakest hitters.

Problem: Cholly has the lineups run off at the beginning of the year.he has to use them because the payroll doesn't allow for more copies.

There have been other studies as well, notably by TheBook.

Your best 3 hitters go in the 1st, 2nd and 4th spots.

clout: Is that true that the 5 and 6-hole hitters have more RBI opps than then 3-hole hitter? Or are there other reasons why it would be optimum to put one of your weaker hitters in the 3-hole (spreading out your good hitters, for example)?

Actually, I found part of the explanation. It's not that the 3-hole has fewer RBI opps than the 6-hole. It's that the 4 & 5 spots should optimally be your 2 best power hitters, so it's seen as a waste to put another good RBI guy in the 3 hole. Plus, the 3-hole gets a lot of PAs with 2 outs and no one on base, which is a less-than-optimal spot for your best hitter to be up.

@bap -- thanks for answering your own question...

the odd thing about "the book"... when they say the 3rd spot comes up more often with 2 outs and nobody on... that it is not an important spot. But is that the case AFTER you use the book to put people in new positions... or based on historical evidence.

basically does the 3rd hole see the no one 2 outs situation more because of the nature of baseball... OR because it always has... OR because you have now reconfigured the lineups...

Just following up on bap's logic, a singles hitter may also make sense at number 3 to the extent the assumption is that your best on base guys are hitting first and second because chances are good that at least one of them will be up to second base, making an rbi available on a single as opposed to an extra base hit. Perhaps the best third hitter is the one with the lowest differential between OPS and batting average.

I've always had a certain affinity for not batting the pitcher 9, because I'm assuming that the player batting 1st is one of your best hitters and it would be better throughout the game to have runners on base for that hitter. It makes a lot of sense to me that the dead zone in the line-up should be 7...what you lose in plate appearances from the hitters dropped to 8 and 9, you will hopefully make up for when the top of the order drives them in.

Certainly not conventional wisdom, but it's not 2006 anymore and this Phillies team needs to squeeze out all the runs they can get.

Hexy: i understand where you are going with it, but ISO is one the highest correalated stats to RBI/RBI Opps percentages. Regardless the situation, the more bases per hit, the better in terms of run production.

lorecore, I hear what you're saying and I am no statistician by any means, just trying to think through the logic of why these statistical models spit out these results. One of the other major factors in this line-up maximization notion is that on most teams, there will be both above and below average hitters so the question is how do you maximize the plate appearances and rbi opportunities for the best guys you have(something I fear the Phillies currently have a serious shortage of). So I could see how even though it seems counter-intuitive, that the 3rd spot in the lineup can sacrifice something, particularly when surrounded by the 3 top hitters.

It's one of those, you're better off always going for it on 4th down things...interesting to muse over, but it would take a manager coach with huge nads and no concern over being fired to actually try it.

"But is that the case AFTER you use the book to put people in new positions... or based on historical evidence."

I wondered exactly the same thing. I think I read somewhere else that the findings presented in "The Book" were based on actual data from a particular baseball season. But one of The Book's central premises, obviously, is that managers are systematically blundering by putting their slap-hitting singles hitters in the 2-hole when they should be putting their best hitters there. So it raises the question: if managers did put their best hitter in the 2-hole, would it change the analysis for the type of hitter you'd want in the 3-hole?

"Jorge Cantu saw 14 of those Oswalt pitches, fouling off nine of them. So Oswalt invented a pitch in the middle of the at-bat and struck him out on an 80 m.p.h. pitch that registered as a curveball on Pitch F/X.

It was actually a slider, Oswalt said. He drove his middle finger into the ball to change the spin on the pitch.

"I spiked it," Oswalt said.

Read more:

Why I play Ibanez tonight vs. Richard tonight (1-6 with a double)? No especially since Richard has a good slider that is tough on lefties and sliders have been eating Ibanez up lately.

I would go with this lineup:


Staring Mayberry on the bench does give the Phils no real viable RH pinch-hit options but I would rather deal with that problem later especially since the Padres only have a single lefty in their pen who isn't overpowering.

Mayberry should start tonight, either in LF for Ibanez or at 1B for Howard.

Chances of that happening? Slim to none.

MG: The single lefty who also pitched 2.2 innings last night?

I think you're fine putting your righties in the lineup tonight. If Luebke makes an appearance tonight, it will be for one batter, Ryan Howard. He isn't making an extended appearance the night after throwing 2 2/3 innings.

Good chance Mayberry plays tonight, but NO way at 1b. Howard plays everyday--no matter how bad the slump/trend/embarrassment.

If the Phillies had another viable right-handed bat on the bench, I would consider giving Howard a night off. But when it comes to right-handed bench options, Cholly only has one arrow in his quiver. Better to bench Ibanez than Howard. Of course, Cholly will probably bench neither of them, even though Richard is much tougher on lefties than righties.

Player - Total ABs - Runners on base - RISP

Chooch - 52 - 34 - 13
Howard - 68 - 68 - 42
Valdez - 49 - 33 - 13
J-Roll - 73 - 59 - 23
PPolly - 75 - 54 - 27
Rauuul - 67 - 54 - 27
S. Vic - 71 - 45 - 26
BennyF - 64 - 50 - 24

So from the numbers... although JRoll has had the 2nd most runners on base in front of him so far this year, he's actually had runners in scoring position more than just Chooch and Valdez.

In light of the talk of the lineup optimizer, interesting that the three spots in the lineup to see the fewest RISP were 3, 7 and 8.

Is Luebke experiencing soreness?

J Roll hasn't had as many runners in scoring position because Polanco has batted them in hitting right before him. Unfortunately, the scoring often stops right after Polanco.

Jack - are you going to be at Beerleaguer tonight? I'm feeling a post coming on.

Cliff Lee trade update:

JC Ramirez:
2 starts, 2-0, 0.83 ERA, 13.1 IP, 8 H, 3 BB, 3 ER... however, just 1 K so far

Phillipe Aumont:
6 relief appearances, 1 sv, 0.00 ERA, 7.1 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 9 K

BAP: The studies I've seen, and I think TheBook does this as well, are based on thousands of actual games. They then run a program that duplicates the games but with the lineups changed in all possible ways. The end result is what they've found to be the optimum use of your hitters. I think Hexy is closer to the truth with this:

"There will be both above and below average hitters so the question is how do you maximize the plate appearances and rbi opportunities for the best guys you have...So I could see how even though it seems counter-intuitive, that the 3rd spot in the lineup can sacrifice something, particularly when surrounded by the 3 top hitters."

In other words, having your 3 worst hitters in the 3, 7 and 8 spots does the LEAST amount of damage. And the very worst hitter (the pitcher) should be in the 8 hole.

If you want to fine tune it, the ideal lineup would look like this:

1. Best OB guy with speed
2. Second best power hitter, ideally good OB
3. Third worst hitter, bad OB but with some pop.
4. Best power hitter, good OB, your star
5. Power hitter, weaker than the others
6. Some power, weaker OB
7. 8th worst hitter on team
8. Worst hitter
9. Second best OB who lacks power

Rizzotti should be batting 2nd.

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