by Scott Fennessy
Today I wanted to talk about the APBA lineup. I certainly don’t consider myself an expert by any means. When I first learned to play I had no mentor, just another person who had been playing for a couple of years; and I know I got pounded on a regular basis. I finally started getting tired of getting crushed so I scraped together enough money to quietly order a set on my own, and over the course of the summer learned how certain numbers took priority over others in game situations, and what types of players would do better before or after other hitters.
That said I have had to kind of “re-learn” the art as I have moved from the modern era to the dead ball era. While the numbers and play results are the same, the level of pitching, and lack of power make it almost like another game altogether. Notice I don’t call it a better or worse time for the game, just different.
So that said, there is one more all-important factor. The manager, or YOU. Do you sacrifice a lesser defender who is a better hitter? Do you go with more speed and sacrifice power? Depending on your roster, you may have to drastically alter your “normal” or “preferred” type of lineup to better utilize your rosters strengths. This last one is probably the most important, especially on a team like the 1901 Cincinnati Reds who had basically Sam Crawford and nobody else.
I have some traits that I think help me personally. I generally prefer my number 3 hitter to be the guy that gets the best opportunity for extra base hits. Not necessarily via the home run, but a solid 30-60 EBH per season. Even if this player only hits about 10-15 home runs he is going to be in a position to drive in 100 runs and score 100 runs if you have any decent hitter behind him. The leadoff spot is the toughest spot for me personally, as in the dead ball era there are teams that have plenty of speed but no real hitting ability. For example in my 1901 replay, the Phillies had two very fast guys, but were not much help as far as average, and especially for extra base hits. Roy Thomas who in the real 1901 season had well over 100 walks had a ton of 14’s on his card and if I remember right an 11-11-10-10, but had a 7-2 8-2 7-2 0-1, and Monte Cross, who had was even worse for power/average. I believe he had an 8-2 8-2 9-2 0-1 66 0-2, and had 11-11-10. Shad Barry was similar to both players but I think had 0-1 0-1, so there were three very easy outs not even counting the pitcher. Admittedly I am only guessing on these three players cards.
Fortunately for the Phils, they had 3 extremely good hitters and a couple of pitchers that were more than able to pick up the slack. That said below is what I look for in a typical “Fen Man lineup”
1 – Maximize speed. If the team has no speed, the guy that draws the most walks or if has only 1-2 zeros has the most 7’s. I have had some guys that were not slow had a 10 and a 42 that I had some good results on.
2 – Maximize 14/31’s. Combined with a lead off hitter with even one 11 on his card this really wreaks havoc on an opposing team and can instantly put multiple runners on base.
3 – Maximize EBH ability. Preferably a single column player, with even a 1-6-6, or 0-1 0-1 0-1 and 3 7’s can really do some damage. If they are a good hitter and get the third 31 you have the makings for some big innings.
4 – Raw power. I want a single column player here for sure. At the very least a 1-1 player or if this is a weak power team at least 3 zero’s and lots of 1’s in the second column. (your teams overall power may negate some of this)
5 – Same as number 4 spot, but I have on occasion used a player very much like my number 3 hitter. I also look for a little speed to reset the table so to speak. A fair amount of 14’s are something I look for too.
6 – Preferably like number 5, but on some teams I end up more or less settling for a similar to number 2 type hitter.
7 – If the number 6 hitter has any speed and the number 7-8 guy are similar I put the guy with the most 13/14 here to get the guy into scoring position.
8 – On NL teams this usually turns out being “leadoff hitter #2” as I can then use the pitchers 13’s to advantage. If this is a low contact/high power hitter this can sometimes maximize
9 – On NL team obviously pitcher, but on DH era teams I try to use a #1 or #2 hitter style
Also, how long do you stick with a struggling player or an underperforming card? The latter can be tough. For example in my current replay I have two cards. Honus Wagner of the Pirates, who ended the month of May hitting under .200. I briefly benched him and then he came through with a pinch hit a couple of days later. I reinserted him in the lineup and he has suddenly started to hit. He has steadily improved over June and early July and is now hitting .289. On the other hand for the Indians Napoleon Lajoie; he finished May hitting .199. Like Wagner I briefly benched him and he did come around a bit in June, but has struggled in July and is hitting only .269. Fortunately for him the Indians have almost no reserves to speak of and they have horrible cards. Something to think about I guess.
Just curious as to how other managers dictate their lineup. Please don’t consider this a “how to” type of article, you may have better ideas how to put a lineup together than I do.