Ever since the days of Ned Yost, much has been made of the lineup construction of the Brewers lineup. Mostly, that had to do with .248 career hitter Rickie Weeks in the leadoff slot. Now, with speedsters Carlos Gomez and Alcides Escobar in the lineup nearly every day, conversation was abound among Brewers fans over where they should hit in the order. Some say Gomez or Escobar should lead off, others say to keep Weeks at the front, bat one of them 2nd, and put the other towards the bottom of the lineup.
All of those are wrong. Yes, Gomez and Escobar have speed, but they offer little else offensively when compared to most of the club’s other options. The Book tells us how an optimal lineup should be constructed.
1. The three best hitters should go into the #1, #2, and #4 slots. The #1 batter should favor OBP, and the #4 should favor SLG.
2. The next two best hitters should go into the #3 and #5 slots.
3. The worst 4 should go in descending order from 6 to 9
Quick aside re: pitcher batting 8th – the difference is so miniscule that it may make a difference of one run or less over the course of the full season. I couldn’t care less if Macha decided to bat the pitcher 8th or 9th
Even though Braun probably should be batting 2nd or 4th with Fielder 2nd instead of 3rd, that, again, wouldn’t make a huge difference. What could make a big difference is to put one of your 3 worst hitters in the #2 slot – and Gomez and Escobar are almost certainly two of the three worst non-pitcher hitters on the team. Here is a table of projected Runs Above Average per 150 games from CHONE for those in today’s lineup:
Allowing Gomez or Escobar to get the amount of plate appearances that are seen in the 2nd slot would severely handicap the team. Corey Hart isn’t a great hitter – he’s barely above average – but the 11 run difference between him and Gomez/Escobar is significant, and the team is better off with him in the 2nd slot in the order.
As far as speed goes, you want speed in the 6-7-8 slot. With Gomez/Escobar in front of Braun and Fielder, there’s a good chance that their speed will be unnecessary – most players easily score from 2nd and even first on some doubles, and no speed is needed in front of a home run. By putting those two in front of singles hitters, where their speed could be useful in the form of a SB and then a score on a shallow outfield hit, their speed is being maximized.
Overall, this isn’t the perfect lineup, but it’s the best lineup yet.