The Brewers offense was #1 in the NL in 2012 yet they won fewer than 85 games. Obviously, the offense isn’t the problem. Nori Aoki became a proven leadoff hitter with a .355 OBP and 30 stolen bases, Braun hit a record 41 homers and Aramis Ramirez had a career year 5.4 Wins Above Replacement. But as every fan does after every season, let’s tinker with the lineup, shall we?
Here’s my generic ideal lineup:
#1 Gets on base. Highest OBP
#2 2nd best overall hitter, 2nd best wOBA/OPS
#3 Best overall hitter, highest wOBA/OPS
#4 Best power hitter, highest ISOP
#5 2nd best power hitter, 2nd highest ISOP
#6 3rd best overall hitter, 3rd best wOBA/OPS
#7 4th best overall hitter
For the Brewers (looking at 2012 data with 300 AB) that would translate to
#1 Braun (.319/.391/.595)
#2 Ramirez (.300/.360/.540)
#3 Braun (ISOP .276)
#4 Ramirez (ISOP .240)
OK, I think I see a problem here. It isn’t unique to the Brewers either; your best hitters are generally going to excel in multiple categories. Braun and Ramirez’s power is too important to “waste” at the top of the lineup so let’s remove duplicates and reconstruct as such.
#1 Nori Aoki (.288/.355/.433)
#2 Lucroy (.320/.368/.513)
#3 Braun (.319/.391/.595)
#4 Ramirez (ISOP .240)
#5 Hart (ISOP .237)
#6 Gomez (.260/.305/.463)
#7 Weeks (.230/.328/.400)
The astute reader may have noticed that I bumped Aoki to #1 despite Lucroy having a higher OBP. That’s because of a) speed and b) the relatively higher OBP that Aoki has compared to his own batting average. This means that Aoki walked a lot more than Lucroy. Aoki had the 3rd highest walks per PA last season (.073) and Braun had the second highest at .093. The person with the highest walk rate, a whopping 1.09 BB/PA, was also the Brewers leadoff hitter for the first third of the season. In fact, if Ricke Weeks were to improve his batting average next season, a case could be made for him to go back in the leadoff spot.
For those arguing that Lucroy should be even further down the list because of his “clutch hitting” or his (.361/.400/.535) line with runners on base, let me say three things: there’s no such thing as clutch hitting ability, small sample size, and there’s no such thing as clutch hitting ability.
How would you construct the Brewers Lineup?