2012 Padres Lineup Optimization


There’s a good number of people who think the daily lineup plays little role in a team’s success. If that were true, we wouldn’t care about batting average and on-base percentage splits by spot in the order. But we do, and we do so for good reason. The order in which your team’s hitters bat can play a vital role in each player’s success or failure.

Generally speaking, everyone wants a speedy contact hitter who can take a lot of walks leading off. From there, the collective agreement on what type of player to hit in each spot evaporates. With the help of the above-mentioned splits, I’ll give you my ideal batting order.

Beyond the Boxscore reminds us that,

"Lineups are pretty overrated. Believe it or not, the difference between an optimized lineup and a typical, mildly foolish one you’ll see MLB teams use is only about one win over 162 games."

This, of course, means that aside from the most asinine lineup, Major League managers do a pretty good job of setting their lineup. This also is a statement based on averages. A team with a terribly optimized lineup could cost itself far more than one game over the course of 162 games.  For the sake of simplicity, I’ll base the lineup on the following players: Cameron Maybin, Carlos Quentin, Chase Headley, Jason Bartlett, Orlando Hudson, Yonder Alonso, Jesus Guzman, and Nick Hundley.  You may be wondering how I can have Guzman in the same lineup as Alonso and Quentin.  I honestly don’t know, but this would be the best lineup offensively.  Bud Black could find a way to make it work defensively.

First, let’s take a look at the batting order splits for these players.  I only included stats with a minimum of 30 plate appearances.  I would have liked to limit it to even more plate appearances than that, but due to players like Alonso and Guzman, it was necessary to reduce the sample I was pulling from.

Each player has their OBP, OPS and K/PA% displayed by spot in the batting order.  My plan is to create a lineup where the top two hitters have higher OBP’s, the next four will have higher OPS’s, and the final two spots with have low K/PA%’s.  Here is what I came up with:

1. Jason Bartlett
2. Cameron Maybin
3. Carlos Quentin
4. Jesus Guzman
5. Yonder Alonso
6. Chase Headley
7. Nick Hundley
8. Orlando Hudson

I’d like to have Nick Hundley in the six spot and Chase Headley in the five spot, but it is important to have some protection for Alonso as he adjusts to hitting in San Diego.  Headley can provide that protection.  So can Hundley for that matter.   As I review this lineup, I’m pretty happy with it.  Compare this to some of the lineups we saw last season, and I have no doubt the Padres have improved during this offseason.

With a topic as contested or arbitrary or meaningful or subjective – you pick how you feel about it – there is sure to be disagreement. Let the debated begin.