What to do with Mike Trout?
My friend Dan Velderrain contacted me and asked a favor regarding his team in the Southern California Baseball League, the Saddleback Sharks:
I was wondering if you could help me…. Even though I am 20-10, I feel like I should be scoring more runs…. I am just curious what your lineup would be with this team….
I need Help Man!!! Thanks!!!
My first thought was, he’s 20-10 and needs help?? But I love looking at teams and putting a lineup together especially when it doesn’t hurt my team ;-)
So let’s look at the players involved and their pertinent numbers. In no particular order they are:
||1-5-5-6-8-8-9-9-10, 3 14s, 0 24s
||1-5-6-7-7-7-8-8-8-9-9, 3 14s, 2 24s
||3-5-5-7-8-8-8-9-9-10-11, 2 14, 1 24
||1-1-0-0-8-8-9-9, 4 14s, 0 24s, (5 SC 1s)
||0-0-0-0-8-8-8-9-9-11, 3 14s, 0 24s (7 SC 1s)
||0-0-0-0-8-8-9-9-10-11-11, 4 14s, 0 24s (7 SC 1s)
||1-5-5-7-8-8-8-9-9-10, 2 14s, 1 24
||1-5-6-7-7-8-8-9-9-10-10, 3 14s, 1 24s
At first glance, I’m thinking this is a pretty solid team. Good power and good speed. I’m impressed at Billy Butler is only player with more than one 24. That’s a constant source of stress on my league team.
To the task at hand, the first thing I do when I’m asked to make a lineup is to sort them by on-base chances. Mind you, it’s not the be-all, end-all solution but it’s a good way to start. To do that, I just add up all hit numbers from 1-7, 10s, 11s, 14s and 42s.
Note that those players with four 8s will take advantage of those C and D pitchers and conversely, A and B pitchers will not gain much advantage against those with just two 8s.
Here they are sorted by my on-base formula:
I can see now why Sgt. Dan is requesting help. While he has formidable starters on his roster, they don’t fit well into a lineup. While Trout could be forced into a leadoff role, I’d hate to waste that gap power and .326 average. The other two high OBP guys are slow (Molina is probably one the slowest baserunners in the MLB in my opinion).
While I certainly want high OBP hitters at the top of my lineup, I also want to factor in WHY they are high OBP. All other things equal, I’d rather put a batter who gets his offense from walks instead of a player who gets his offense from hits (and certainly power) in the leadoff spot. For now, Trout looks to be the #1 leadoff guy but let’s look further.
Dan’s Sharks lineup situation is complicated further because besides Trout, the two .300 hitters, Molina and Butler, are slow. I always hesitate to bat them too high in the lineup. If I can help it, I don’t bat them anywhere in the top four unless they are real producers. In Dan’s case, we might be making an exception, though.
Pedroia is an interesting case. To me, he is a borderline case for a #2 hitter. He hit .290, only has two 13s and doesn’t have any 24s on his card. If only he had just one extra 14, he’d be a perfect candidate. Castro is another possible candidate for the #2 spot but Dan better make sure that leadoff man get on with Starlin’s 3-5-5 power combo. I think I’m liking Pedroia better there since Castro has a couple more 13s and one more 24.
The biggest issue for Dan is the lack of a #3 hitter. Let me rephrase that. Mike Trout can’t leadoff AND bat third at the same time. Yes, I think Trout could make an excellent #3 hitter but if he does, we would be scrounging for a leadoff man. In a spot, Pedroia could fill that role. Eight on-base chances is about the limit for me unless I’m resting a whole lot of players.
Jay Bruce is the only player in the lineup with four solid power numbers. I’ve been overlooking him for the time being. Why? Other than his 1-5-5-6 and his 10, that all he has. He even has just two 8s as opposed to the regulation three 8-two 9 combination. The Sharks would be better off with someone who will put the bat on the ball in the 4th and 5th spot.
Among all the Sharks, Curtis Granderson led the MLB in real life with 43 homers. I’ll tell you right now that won’t get him an automatic bit for the cleanup spot. Grandy also hit .232 and has nine 13s on his card. Like Bruce, he’ll hit lower.
As much as it pains me, the two players I’m considering for the 4th and 5th spots are the two slow guys, Butler and Molina. Butler has a juicy 55-7 and Molina has a 44-7 with two 10s. They still have good on-base chances while decent power.
I’m proposing two lineups for Dan.
Now, the “Trout” lineup:
I admit I don’t like the idea of batting Pedroia third in the second lineup. I toyed with the idea of moving Castro to the eighth spot and moving everyone up. That depends on how comfortable Dan is with having slow guys up in the order.
Also, despite what I said about Granderson earlier, he wouldn’t be a bad guy to bat higher either (for two seconds, I even considered leading him off, 43 homeruns or no). He’s got four 14s. I do like batting him ahead of either Bruce or Trumbo to take advantage of their 5s.
I have to admit this was one of the toughest lineups I’ve had to put together. I’m curious what Dan is doing so far this year. If any of you have good suggestions, leave them in the comments. I’d love to hear what you guys would do.