Are Russell’s lineups hurting the offense?

In last nightís game against the Yankees, John Russell went with the following lineup:
Morgan
Sanchez
McLouth
Doumit
Bay
LaRoche
Bautista
Wilson
Duke
Yes, the first two batters in the order had respective on-base percentages of .217 and .264. These are the hitters that will receive the most plate appearances. According to the Baseball Musings Lineup Analysis tool, this lineup would net the Pirates an average of 3.913 runs per game. That would give them 634 runs over a 162-game season. Major League Baseballís worst offensive output in 2007 was 673 runs.
Batting Freddy Sanchez at the top of the order all season has been one of the main issues I have had with Russell this year. He has been one of the worst hitters in baseball in 2008, and giving him so many at-bats is baffling to me. But how much has it really hurt the offense?
It isnít fair to criticize last nightís lineup too much, as Russell is missing one of his best hitters in Xavier Nady. So letís take a look at a typical Pirate batting order:
McLouth
Sanchez
Bay
Doumit
Nady
LaRoche
Bautista
Wilson
Pitcher
I plugged this lineup in, using an OBP of .183 and SLG of .181 for the pitcher (average for NL pitchers in 2008). I came up with 4.846 runs per game, or 785 runs for a season. Next, I tried the lineup I would use:
Bay
McLouth
Doumit
Nady
LaRoche
Bautista
Wilson
Sanchez
Pitcher
This gave me 4.894 runs per game, and 793 runs over 162 games. That is only eight runs more than Russellís lineup, or just under one extra win. I was surprised to find that giving Freddy numerous extra at-bats really is not that large of a factor in the long run. Hopefully, that will help me breathe a little easier next time I see him leading off a game.
The lineup tool informed me that the following lineup would be the most successful:
Bay
McLouth
Bautista
Doumit
Nady
Sanchez
LaRoche
Pitcher
Wilson
This order would be good for 5.145 runs per game, or 833 runs for an entire season. That equates to four extra wins when compared to my ideal lineup. Interesting.

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Posted in Freddy Sanchez, John Russell. Comments Off on Are Russell’s lineups hurting the offense?
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