Lonnie Wheeler’s article in the Post today, is a must read. Something jumped out at me in the article, and it piggy backs with a comment of his from Marc Lancaster’s Blog. Jerry Narron while obviously a “baseball guy” may somewhat get the whole sabermetrics thing.

Check this from Wheeler’s column:

“With the on-base percentage that he has, and the slugging percentage that he has, he has tremendous value all through baseball,” Narron said. “Everybody would really like to have him.

“It’s been discussed about his sacrifice-fly thing (he hits one whenever Jupiter aligns with Cleves). Well, his sacrifice fly a lot of times is out of the ballpark. Shoot, a guy that’s going to hit 40 home runs for you a year, you don’t worry about that ground ball to center field with a guy on base.”

Now I will mention that if those statements were made by a Redlegnation writer, we would get the inevitable comments about how Dunn is not really that good, and that us statheads are just clinging to a stat because it makes Dunn look good. BUT now that a self-professed “Baseball Guy” says it, is it now a fact? Is it now OK, to keep bringing it up?

Narron also said this to Post beat-writer Marc Lancaster:

“I talked with Bill James a couple years ago about batting orders and how to construct batting orders,” said Narron. “His basic thing was, over 162 games, it doesn’t really matter – if you’ve got the right guys out there, no matter where you put them, you’re going to score runs.”

I would argue that Aurilia and Casey aren’t the right guys necassarily, but he has a point. For all of the harping (and I am King Harper) about Dunn in the 3 spot over Casey. Dunn still has more PA’s than Casey (395-388). And about as many plate appearances with Men on (175 vs. 181). Dunn actually has one more opportunity with RISP (103 vs. 102).

So what Bill James said to Narron is basically true. I would STILL love to see Dunn bat 3rd, but in the long run, it probably doesn’t amount too much.

9 Responses

  1. Brian B.

    There is a difference. While James is right that the stats aren’t going to matter much, the right lineup should win you a handful more games than the wrong lineup.

  2. Matt

    Fair enough. But how WRONG does the lineup have to be? Since Dunn has more PAs. Is it that bad, that he bats 6th? Again I think my support of Dunn is well documented here, I am just wondering scientifically how much better they we do at scoring runs, if tweaked the batting order.

  3. Brian

    If you have nine hitters and nine batting order slots to put them in there are 362,880 ways to do it, and only one of them is right

    Bill James

  4. Eric

    The folks at BP have held for a while that lineup construction hasn’t been properly analyzed and that the old models and test that brought James to that conclusion are very old.

    Waiting so see someone address this again in the future. I’ve always found it hard to believe that lineup construction matters little.

  5. Mike

    I think you have to look at the PAs as a result of the amount of games the guys are playing in. If two guys play at the same rate, one bats 3rd and the other bats 6th or 7th, then over time the guy batting in the 3 hole is going to have roughly one more PA for every 3 games played.

    I think you’re going to see similar opportunities with guys on base, but it just all depends on how your team is structured. If you’ve got your best OB guys at the top of the lineup then a guy in the three hole is going to get more opportunities to produce runs.

  6. Mike

    That’s about as Mr. Obvious as I can get, but I just think it’s pretty simple.

  7. Matt

    I understand your point. And I don’t disagree, but I am just wondering out loud if Casey with 15 more PA’s a year would make THAT much difference? Would it mean 2 runs? 5 Runs? Spread out over 162 games, would it make that much difference?

  8. Chad

    I don’t know about lineup construction one way or the other…but it makes little sense to me that you wouldn’t want your best player (1) to get more ABs, and (2) to be hitting behind your high OBP players.

    Dunn needs to be hitting third.

    Either way, I’m very encouraged to read those statements from Narron. Very encouraged.